I had been aware, for a few years, of Kirito as an upperclassmen. I'd seen him repeatedly in the halls and had the vague knowledge that he was smart and played computer games. He was on academic team as well, and would quite often give people mint gum for no real reason. I found it fascinating, the different kinds he would produce, all mint: spearmint, winter mint, etc. Naturally, I wanted to befriend him. There was only one problem: I am incredibly shy.
My freshmen year, my sister and I became fans of the writer Ted Dekker, and it is only natural that we would share the names of any other fans we came across. Kirito was one my sister mentioned. Almost the entire school year later, Kirito and I were both on a bus letting other people off before us. I had been reading Dekker's Thre3, and I still wanted to befriend Kirito. However, I was terrified to start the conversation, so I readjusted my hold on the book to a position that, while it was slightly uncomfortable, looked natural and allowed him to see the cover. Somehow, it worked.
"That's a good book."
"Really?" I looked up at him (he's actually quite tall).
"Yeah." He smiled gently.
And there lay two problems in my plan.
- I hadn't read enough of the book yet to make it into a conversation.
- Even if I had, I was too shy to do so.
In the Mrs. T's classroom, we could have very easily spoken rarely, staying to our own tasks. That is not what happened. Starting the first day, Kirito would talk to me. I had never heard him talk so much before. He told me about anime, music, and multiple other topics. Many days, he would work with one earbud in, and I would look up from helping a student to see him air drumming to the music. A few times, it looked like he was pretending to beat the children over their heads. He wasn't though; he was just lost in the music. I came to know his quirks of behavior: how he can't tell a story he likes without standing up and how he practically glows when he's talking about something he loves.
We would talk in the hall after that period too. He could make me really laugh, something that didn't happen often that year. We discussed choice weapons in a fantasy setting. His was the scythe, and he correctly guessed mine: bow and arrow. We also discussed Ted Dekker. He didn't remember how he knew that I was aware of his love of Dekker's books, but when I brought them up, he beamed. "You remembered!"
My junior year was hard. I had days when all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner and cry until I passed out from exhaustion. I felt alone, utterly alone. My closest friends were disappearing, some had graduated the year before and others were gone for different reasons. I don't know if I could have survived the school year without him.
So, long story short, happy birthday Kirito. I am so glad you talked to me and became my big brother.