He doesn’t know what makes him say what he does next: Is it empathy, as he hopes, or is it a boast, an alluding aloud to the improbable and wondrous turns his life has taken over the past month? “You know, Felix,” he begins, “I never had friends, either, not for a very long time, not until I was much older than you.” He can sense, rather than see, Felix become alert, can feel him listening. “I wanted them, too,” he continues, going slowly now, because he wants to make sure his words come out right. “And I always wondered if I would ever find any, and how, and when.” He traces his index finger across the dark walnut table-top, up the spine of Felix’s math textbook, down his cold glass of water. “And then I went to college, and I met people who, for whatever reason, decided to be my friends, and they taught me – everything, really. They made me, and make me, into someone better than I really am.
“You won’t understand what I mean now, but someday you will: the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you – not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving – and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad – or good – it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well.”
They’re both quiet for a long time, listening to the click of the metronome, which is faulty and sometimes starts ticking spontaneously, even after he’s stopped it. “You’re going to make friends, Felix,” he says, finally. “You will. You won’t have to work as hard at finding them as you will at keeping them, but I promise, it’ll be work worth doing.”
– Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life