Thank You For...

Dear Yuuta,

There are things I still have yet to tell you. They are important things that I have never been able to get off my chest, nor did I imagine I would ultimately tell you. But they are things that I want you to have a reminder of, should anything happen for you to doubt me.

That's why I have to write you this.

It is my only way of expressing my gratitude, for picking me up and cleaning up after my mess when I couldn't do it myself. I would always wake up on a couch in my apartment with a splitting hangover, with you hovering over me, your voice scolding, "How much did you drink last night?" and "What time did you come back in?" and "I was worried about you."

I couldn't keep letting you pick up after me. I had to start doing it myself. So when you told me to stop drinking, I did. (I struggled, but I managed. It was thanks to you that I experienced what it was like to be sober for more than a week.) When you told me to leave behind the person I used to be, I did. When you told me to go out and work to support myself, I hesitantly complied.

Honestly, the idea of someone like me having to do physical labor was morbidly amusing. But you had faith in me. You said it would be fine, and that all I had to do was keeping going forward.

You were right; it worked. I can say satisfactorily that I am proud to be the person that I am today. I am the person I have always wanted to be. But I couldn't have done it without you.

I wanted to...

thank you for...

many things.

One: thank you for always listening to me. Especially about trivial things.

You were always quick to notice my silence. By nature, I know I am not a very talkative person, and there are few exceptions to this circumstance. The most obvious one was as a result of my alcohol consumption: I would drink until I was stoned, and at that point, I would have no control over my body or mind. But there are few exceptions to this that I am proud of.

The lone exception I was proud of was when I was with you.

"?" You would ask. "You're really quiet today."

I would tilt my head. "I didn't even notice."

You would stare: go as far as turning off the television to listen to me completely. You would listen, even though I had nothing to say. "Is something bothering you? You know I said I'd listen to you whenever you needed it. Did you forget already?"

You would frown bemusedly. "You haven't been drinking again, have you? That's not why you're so quiet?"

I hadn't picked it up. I never touched alcohol since you told me not to. Do you believe me? "I haven't touched anything for months."

The look on your face would become a look of curiosity. But you would wait for me to go on. And I would, because you let me.

"I was just thinking. About what I would do with my life. You know..." I would draw my legs up. My knees would brush against yours, and you would never pull away. "I want to go somewhere and do something. I've been grateful for my work at the grocery store, but I can't work there forever."

"You don't have to." I could always register surprise in your voice, like you never expected me to be thinking so much about where I would go next. "But you know I'll help you for as long as I can, right? You don't have to feel guilty about it."

"But I do. You've helped me enough to teach me that I have a purpose here; I just have to find it. I can't keep taking advantage of your hospitality when there's still something I can do."

"Slow down." I was never able to understand how you could maintain such a flippant, I-don't-see-what-the-problem-is attitude. "You still have time to figure out what you want to do. Don't rush it, okay?"

I wasted so much time, yet you just kept granting me yours.

"Just because you learned to fly doesn't mean you have to take off at the first chance you get. These things take practice, and time." You would say, looking cheery again. "I'll help you figure it out. Don't worry."

I would smile. I was happy knowing that I could count on you to be there.

Two: thank you for always picking up the phone when I called. Especially at the ridiculous hours of the morning.

I know that back then, sleep was difficult to initiate. I never figured out if it was the result of a developing insomnia, or if it was just a habit from the nights that I went out and drank myself to unconsciousness, or if it was simply the fact that I had too much on my mind. I suppose it doesn't matter too much now, does it? I still stay up, but not as late. I just don't find it as hard to sleep, and the fact that I don't go out drinking anymore helps. My mind becomes bored easily when it doesn't have much to think about, so it gives in easily.

Even the regret doesn't bother me as much. It isn't a big enough obstacle to divide me and sleep anymore. But that's because you helped me. You always insisted that whenever something was on my mind, I should call you and we would talk. I was always terrified of interrupting something, so I would wait for you to call.

But that wasn't a real help either. You would just call me whenever you had the chance, such as while you were meant to be at home, enjoying your time with your family, or when you were at the gas station, filling up your car. Any moment when you had a free hand.

"I have this sixth sense that tells me something's on your mind, but you never call me." You would always explain when I answered. Then you would continue whatever conversation we were having the previous night. "Oh, remember what we were talking about last night? I thought of a solution. Why don't you..."

You were always insisting that I call you absolutely whenever I had something on my mind. You treated me like a very precious, fragile vase teetering precariously on the edge of a desk. But I obliged, because I felt like I owed it to you. And I felt that this was a way of paying you back for it. Somehow. It became a daily ritual—calling you. Eventually, it became an around-the-clock routine, and I never noticed what time it was when I hit the speed dial for your number.

And yet, whatever hour it was, you would always use your best wide-awake voice to greet me. I never heard you say what ridiculous hour of the morning it was.

"Hey, . What's up?"

"The sky?"

"Have... you been drinking?"

"No. We got rid of all my alcohol."

A thoughtful pause. "Are you close to falling asleep?"

"Not very."

"Why don't I come over? We can watch a movie together."

"Is that okay?"

"Sure, I'll be over soon."

I would smile. I was happy knowing that someone cared enough not to hang up on me.

Three: thank you for never using your family as an excuse to get out of being with me.

There were quite a number of scenarios in which I thought you would want to, too. Do you remember when we cleared out my old family home? That was a task that I told you would take days, maybe even weeks. I told you that you didn't have to help, but you said it would be faster if the both of us did it.

I was doubtful. I saw your agenda once, and it was quite a monstrous list. You weren't spending your time with me because you didn't have anyting else to do. It was something else. I never figured that something else out until now, while I am writing this to you.

We wasted a lot of time when we discovered a Monopoly board. I remember we would spend hours battling it out—just one match—and eating takeaway. (How long did it take until we got back to cleaning again?)

All the time we wasted made me feel guilty.

"Are you sure it's okay for you to be here?"

"You're just saying that because you're losing." You would say. And you looked so content, I didn't want to say anything that would change that. So I would have to stare while my marker was stuck in jail, and yours was frolicking across the board.

And then a call would come. We would look at each other. Then you would excuse yourself and leave the room. I tried not to eavesdrop, but it was considerably difficult.

"Ah... today? I'm busy at the moment."

But you knew that the house could be cleaned any time. It wasn't imperitive.

"Yeah. I'll see you. Bye."

When you walked back into the room, I remembered searching your face for a sign of something: whether you would leave or stay. And I made it so blatantly obvious, but you never pointed it out. You just let me stare and search.

When you did look up, I thought you were going to rebuke me.

But instead: "I'm going to trust that you didn't cheat or move any of the pieces."

And the unspoken words in that smile: Because I trust you.

"Looks like everything's in order. For my turn..."

I would smile. It made me happy to feel like I was worth your time.

Four: Thank you for always complimenting me.

I think, had it not been for your mundane, everyday compliments, I would not have been motivated to up the ante. I would not have gone and revisited my middle school days, when I knew what it was to like something, and to be good at it. I would have not gone this far to please anyone.

I still remember your face when I showed you the first painting I had done in many years, and you asked me, "You did this? Wow, this is..."

You took a step back to observe the painting from all directions and distances that my small apartment would allow.

"This is amazing." You said finally. Then, sheepishly: "But I didn't know you were an artist."

"Your sister gave me her art set." I said. Yumiko said that she never had much time to use it anymore, so she gave it to me to take care of. "She helped me paint some. It was fun."

"Did you did this one by yourself?"

"Yeah. I used to take private art lessons in middle school. I quit when high school came." I said. "It was too time consuming."

Our eyes met each other's. Then we looked at the canvas.

"Don't give up this time?"

"Yeah... I want to keep going." I said. "I'll paint some nice things for you."

And you ruffled my hair. "Yeah. I'd like that."

I smiled. I was happy. I felt worthy.

Five: Thank you for helping me, even when it wasn't necessary.

Especially when it wasn't necessary. I remember getting the shock of my life whilst carrying the groceries up the stairs to my apartment. As I was walking, someone came up behind me and stole most of the groceries. Then I discovered that it was just you.

"Hey. Need a hand?"

A verbal warning a few seconds too late.

I smiled a smile of relief. The gesture was kind, but please don't kill me from a heart attack before we're old.

Six: Thank you for never pushing me away when I was in dire need of hugs.

And that was often.

Remember over the summer, while we were watching the fireworks from the balcony? You said I was being unusually quiet that night, even though I didn't think I was being obvious about it. It wasn't something bad I was thinking about. The fireworks just reminded me of when I was small, and my dad let me ride on his shoulders to see fragments of light over the tops of rooves. When I grew up, my dad and I would climb onto the roof, ignoring mom's shouting, just to watch the colors explode for a few minutes.

We always thought it was sacrilege to talk during the fireworks, so we hushed mom and sat watching the fireworks in silence. He would always put his arm around me. That's why I did it to you, too.

And you didn't complain. You let me lean in, and you wrapped an arm back around me.

I smiled. I was happy to feel affection again.

Seven: Thank you for helping me whenever I got hurt.

Or post-hurt. I think I've become so acquainted with walls that bruises don't bother me anymore. But whatever the size of the bruise, from half an inch to three inches in diameter, you were there with an ice pack, a towel, and several other things that seemed quite unnecessary for a mere bruise. You would order me to lie down and elevate my leg above heart level, and I would just laugh.

"Be careful next time, okay?"

"But it's just a bruise."

"Ssh. Don't make me worry."

I smiled. I was happy, because these small gestures meant so much.

Eight: Thank you for always lending me money.

I don't think I would have managed many month's rent without you. I always dreaded the day I would never be able to fund one more month's stay, and I would have nowhere to go. What would I do then, find a better job?

"Thank you so much, Yuuta. I really owe you one."

"It's okay. What are friends for?"

Your flippancy made me so guilty. "I'll figure something out. Then I can pay you back, and..."

But you would shake your head. "Take all the time you want, okay? It doesn't bother me."

"If I take too long, I'll forget about it."

"If you forget about it, then you forget about it. It doesn't bother me."

I always liked how you said 'me.' But it sounded like a hint. "It might not matter to you, but it does to me."

So you thought. "I have an idea."

"What is it?"

"You can move in with me." You said. I was very surprised by your suggestion. "If you think about it, then you won't have to pay your full rent price every month. We can split the rent. And you can make a deposit every now and then to the Pay Yuuta back fund."

It made a lot of sense, and I won't lie: it was beneficial.

"Are you sure that's okay?"

"Yeah, absolutely. Otherwise I probably wouldn't have suggested it." He said. "But there are still chores. We should split them up so that..."

I smiled. I was happy that now, I had a place to live, too.

Nine: Thank you for always buying me food.

Even though you know you didn't have to. You knew that the only reason I went to that restaurant was because I could afford to buy a meal without putting my budget in danger. I wanted to share the restaurant with you because food always tastes nicer with company. I didn't want you to pay for me.

You did it anyway.

"Yuuta, I already owe you enough money."

"That's okay. This one's on me."

"But you said that last time."

"That's okay. This one's on me, too."

I would stare at you. But your smile would always break it.

And so I smilled back. I was happy that you were willing to spend your money on me, but you did make me feel extremely guilty for all the meals I lost track of.

Ten: Thank you for always offering good advice.

It always paid off for me. I took your advice when you said I should become a children's picture book author, and that I should go back to university to take creative writing classes. I took your advice when you said to pay a visit to the graveyard and finally make peace with my parents, so that they could rest in peace.

I took your advice when you said:

"I have an idea."


"We should go out."

I smiled. Yeah, your advice never failed me.

I'm writing this here because I know I won't be able to say it tomorrow. And in saying this, I am not getting cold feet. These are merely things that I want to thank you for, and that I want you to know before we make the biggest decision of our lives.

You have done more for me than I could have ever asked for—more than I could put to words in this letter—but I know that as long as I can remind you of some of your virtues, well, that's what counts. So I want to thank you for picking me up off my feet. I want to thank you for giving me a purpose. I want to thank you for giving me a home, a haven, a family. Who I am now is thanks to you.

Who I am now belongs to you.

Love always, .

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