I’m standing in front of my apartment door. Waiting. Nervous at who’s about to come through it.
„Star Wars brings people together.“
That’s what people always say. That’s what they believe, and let me tell you, it’s true. All of it.
I never believed it myself. Just a cliché, I thought. Sure, there’s a community of fans, a dedicated one to say the least. Sure, it’s nice to talk to someone with a common interest. But a deep and lasting friendship? No way.
It was April 2015. Star Wars Celebration, a huge convention, was in full effect. The hype for the next big movie, The Force Awakens, was real. I had always loved the franchise but even I was surprised at how great the anticipation was. It’s all I could talk about. I probably drove my friends and family nuts with it. So, as you can imagine, I was pretty excited about the new trailer released at the convention. I couldn’t be there in person, but hey, the Internet was the next best thing. If the World Wide Web is good for anything, it’s sharing your thoughts on a new trailer on Twitter. Or in my case, screaming incoherent phrases in all caps, that God has descended to earth to bless us with a Star Wars movie that actually looked good.
What an over-enthusiastic man-child, huh? You are absolutely right, and there’s no shame in it. Anyways, I had befriended a fellow cinephile who I previously hadn’t interacted with. He liked all my nonsensical tweets of ecstasy, so in my Star Wars intoxication I dm’d him. We hit it off immediately, to say the least. Of course, it was all Star Wars for a couple of days, but soon enough I realized he was just as crazy about movies in general as I was. “Crazy” might be the wrong word actually, because he was anything but a “crazed fan”. He was incredibly analytical in talking about film. Somebody I could actually discuss motion pictures with on an intellectual level, without being pretentious.
Many of my friends only liked certain kinds of film, which is natural. Everybody has their own taste. I, however, had always been different in that regard because I liked movies across the board. Rom–com, action, animation, classics, art house. You name it. If it was good, I’d watch it. What is good, though, you might ask? Well, that’s the thing. My approach on judging the quality of a film differed vastly from other people’s.
I never tried to judge it on taste alone, not on whether I liked what’s happening in the story or not. Rather, I looked at how the story was told. Did character motivations actually support their actions? Was it structured in a way to keep a good pace? I judged the acting, camera movement and shots, musical score, and so much more. I took a movie apart to its very bone. And so did my friend.
I’m not saying one way is better than the other. I just mean I finally had found somebody to share my love of film with. Movies were more to me than entertainment, and not just a passion. They were a pillar of support in my life with a disability. I depend on a wheelchair. I depend on people for help. I always dealt with a lack of understanding and also hate by others. But this isn’t a sob story. On the contrary, it’s a testament to the good in the world. There are people, who listen and want to understand. It goes a long way. So, having someone to connect and feel utterly comfortable with, just felt good.
However, my disability had created insecurities, and over the years they had grown. As my illness had progressed, it had created new insecurities for me to deal with. It wasn’t just ablelism, or how people treated or looked at me. Just imagine a life with muscular dystrophy, barely being able to move your finger. People want to shake your hand, but you can’t, so awkwardness ensues. Just imagine having trouble breathing and talking. Either people can’t hear you or they just don’t understand what you’re saying.
I had kept retreating more and more, until any interaction with strangers had become absolute torture. I avoided people at all costs. Once you’re in there, it’s incredibly hard to get out again. It happens slowly and gradually, that you can’t even tell until you’re neck deep in it.
The anonymity of the Internet helped immensely. It helped me hide. Naturally, it was easy messaging my friend. The thought of meeting him in person popped into my head almost immediately. “Someday I will.” Only, there were a few obstacles in the way. For weeks I didn’t even tell him about my disability. My insecurities made me think he has to warm up to me first. Yes, I imagined it would scare him away. Obviously, the moment came, when I had to spill the beans. He was completely understanding. In my head I had known that but I had been afraid, nonetheless.
After that we kept growing closer, and all of a sudden years had passed. Your eyes do not deceive you. Indeed, years went by, and with them I became increasingly anxious. “You have to ask him! You have to!”, I screamed at myself. With every passing day it just got worse. Until one day I mustered up my courage to finally ask him. Guess what? He was happy I did. It turned out he hadn’t been sure how to broach the subject either. As you see, insecurities go both ways.
At first, I was relieved and glad, but then things slowly crept into my mind again. Since he lived hundreds of miles away, he would have to come and visit me, because traveling required a lot of me. That meant he would need to stay for a couple of days at least. Then again, he would see everything. Everything I’m dealing with in my everyday life. Nowhere to hide. I kept thinking: “It doesn’t matter. Your friends understand. Nothing to be ashamed of.” Telling myself that, didn’t change my feelings, though. Instead, I asked myself a serious question. Was I going to hide and never meet a dear friend? That was the only other option. And suddenly the choice became surprisingly easy.
Now I’m just waiting here for him to ring my doorbell. Choices made. Nowhere to go and nothing to hide. I think we might just watch a movie together.