You Are Loved
By Colin Drohan
(Illustrated by Jenn Kucharczyk)




i was walking home from class listening to music and carrying a book. i was stopped on the corner of 10th st and broadway when a pair of 20something women with dyed hair and pierced faces tapped me on the shoulder. i took off my headphones.

“hi, how are you doing?”

“i don’t know, i’m okay, i guess,” i said.

“we’re doing a poll on what people are listening to for [some magazine]. do you mind if we ask you a few questions?”

“uh, yeah, sure, that’s fine.”

“okay.”

they asked a few questions i don’t remember, about things like what led me to purchase the pair of headphones i bought, how long i’ve had them, if i was happy with them, etc.

“okay cool. now, um, like, what are you listening to right now?”

“oh, on my ipod? i don’t have a lot of music on here. my hard drive crashed and i lost all my music and then i had to like rebuild my music collection…”

“oh, god. that sounds awful. but like, what are you listening to?”

“oh, i’ve been listening to the song ‘you are loved’ by defiance, ohio on repeat all day. i used to like the band a lot but when i lost all my music i forgot about them and then a friend of mine posted this song on facebook when one of her classmates committed suicide and i felt more attached to it than i ever had before.”

“oh wow, i used to listen to defiance, ohio a lot too,” said the girl with blue/blonde hair, who up until this point had been silent. (purple/brown hair had been more talkative and willing to ask questions.)

“yeah?”

“yeah. i remember that song, it’s kind of short, but good i think. not one i’d listen to on repeat but that’s okay i guess.”

“yeah.”

there was silence, and i would’ve crossed the street but the orange hand was once again present, telling me i shouldn’t cross.

“where are you off to now?” purple/brown asked, trying to make things less strange.

“oh, well, i’m going home to nap. i’m done with class for the day and didn’t get much sleep last night.”

“why didn’t you sleep that much? schoolwork?” asked blue/blonde. she was visibly embarrassed about being too intrusive after asking.

“no, i’ve got a friend back…i mean, like, i don’t know…it’s personal, i guess.”

“is everything okay? any defiance, ohio fan is a friend of mine. what’s going on man?”

i got really sad when blue/blonde asked me this and i felt like all i wanted to do was hug someone. a few tears started rolling down my cheeks as i stood on the corner of 10th st and broadway with two complete strangers. i wanted to be alone/listening to “you are loved”/in my bed/eating thai food. when the hand turned to a walking man, i started walking across the street.

“dude, it’s okay! sit down with us!” blue/blonde said in a voice loud enough to attract other people’s attention. i slowly walked back to them and the three of us sat down outside of the chase bank.

“what’s happening?” asked purple/brown.

“i don’t know…my friend…not well…” i mumbled.

“dude, you can tell us. we’ll never see you again. we’re from brooklyn. we’re only here to get accurate polling about this music shit. we’re not like therapists but we’re good at listening. right?” the “right?” was directed at purple/brown, who nodded.

“okay. um. well like my friend has been really depressed and he just started taking medicine and seeing a counselor and all that stuff…” it was hard to hold back the tears, but i continued. “and last night he texted me saying things were really bad again, so i called him, and when he didn’t answer i freaked out, calling all my other friends at his school. they were all busy or asleep or something, and none of them answered their phones. so i sat in my bed crying. i didn’t know what to do. at about 2:30 i finally got him to answer his phone. he was breathing very heavily and said he was staring out the window of his 9th story bedroom. he told me he was going to jump and hung up on me. i finally got a hold of his roommate, and told him to keep an eye on the depressed friend.”

i paused at about this point in the story to look up from the ground at the young women’s reactions. they didn’t look sad but they also didn’t look happy. i chose to continue, for some reason.

“so then he was like, ‘yeah, yeah, i will, this is fucking bull shit though’ and i was like, ‘ugh.’ my friend texted me a few minutes after i talked with his roommate saying, ‘i’m still here.’ i responded to that text with, ‘let’s skype, come on bud.’ he said, ‘okay’ and we skyped for a few hours. he told me he hadn’t told his counselor about the thoughts he’d been having and i encouraged him to do so, but it’s kind of like, i don’t want to be telling him what to do, y’know?”

the women nodded affirmatively.

i got distracted by a pug strutting by and stopped talking.

“so then what happened?” asked blue/blonde.

“oh, right, um, well, he went to sleep, and we have plans to skype again tonight and i don’t know, y’know? he’s in another part of the country, i don’t know what else i can do from here, y’know?”

when i was finished telling my story, blue/blonde stood up and said, “your friend is strong, but you’ve gotta give yourself credit too. you’re doing all you can from another city and that’s amazing. jeez, i wish i had a friend as good as you. this bitch…nah, just playin’. but really, whatever happens to your friend will happen. you’ve gotta focus on you. i dunno what else to say really…”

“did telling us help?” purple/brown asked.

“yeah, actually, haha, i mean, telling a stranger your story is really nice i guess. my friends would be like, ‘oh my god are you okay is there anything we can do for you oh my god what can we do to make you feel better,’ but like telling strangers is really nice because they’re not invested in you so all they can do is listen and unlike therapists, they don’t have to be nice to you because you’re not paying them.”

purple/brown smiled, then said they had better get going to interview more young ‘interesting looking’ people about what music they were listening to and whatnot.

blue/blonde asked me if i was okay, and i nodded, saying everything was fine. she then told me to get some sleep and we parted ways. i put my headphones back on and walked across the street faster than the women in an attempt to get away from them because i really hate that moment when people say goodbye and then they continue walking in the same direction. a block later, i turned around to see where they were. they were behind me, talking to a woman, probably about her music.

blue/blonde looked up and we made eye contact. i saw her mouth move. i took my headphones off, thinking she was trying to tell me something. “YOU ARE LOVED, YOU ARE LOVED, YOU ARE REAAAAAAALLY LOVED!” she shouted again.

for the first time since living in new york, i truly believed that i had found some nice people, even if only for a few minutes. it made me happy to be here and excited for all the good things in my life.

you are loved, you are loved, you are reaaaaaaaally loved.


*

colin drohan lives in new york city

*

@colindrohan
colindrohan.tumblr.com