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The next time I saw Jill, I couldn’t help but think of her differently–not in a bad way. She wasn’t suddenly a victim. Well, not in the way most people think of being a victim. We’re all victims of our own lives, aren’t we? Some things we choose in life and other things choose us. I suppose if Jill had been a “good girl” and not gone up on the roof, nothing would have happened to her. But then, if she had stayed in her room all those times she had gone up to the roof or creeped around the basement or if we hadn’t gotten curious about Julio’s business and snuck in, she would have been miserable with her life. We had nothing else to do but get into trouble. When Julio came along in our lives, it was the best thing that could have happened to us. We had a place to stay out of trouble. A place that was pretty safe, the vast majority of the time. It was also away from the constant strife of our parents. It was so much good for us. Who knows how much worse it would have been for both of us without Julio in our lives.
So, when I say I saw Jill differently after that, it was out of understanding. That she is the way she is because of many different things happening to her. But that night, that hunt for the lady in yellow and the violence it led her into the hands of… that shaped her as much as anything in her life, I think. Suddenly, all of the things I was “putting up with” as far as her behavior went, seemed like much less of a big deal to me. I saw her less as my annoying, aloof, disconnected sister and more like a layered adult human being–a sovereign being, as Dr. Green described all people. In turn, that helped me view all people more like that. Sure, my instinct to judge people as this or that still kick in every once in a while when I’m tired, or drunk, or under pressure, but most of the time, I can take that step back and remember that it’s very possible that every person I see on the street might have a night like that one Jill had in their own past.
That next time I saw her I wanted to talk to her about everything. I wanted to be warm with her. I wanted to be open with her. I wanted to be close with her. Like we had been when we were kids–hiding from our parents, hiding from our troubles, and just relying on each other for our own strength.
I did give her a hug. A big one. It was pretty awkward because we were having a meeting in the kitchen over some food Jim had 3-D printed (don’t ask, it was pretty gross) and we were talking about the plan. I knew I couldn’t expect her to be warm to me back but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from being warm to her.
The nice thing about that hug–the really nice thing about that hug–was that she hugged me back just as hard as I was hugging her and when I let go, she held on for a few seconds more.
Sure, as I pulled away there wasn’t so much as a smile on her face or a twinkle in her eye, but that hug…
“Alright, Jacob. Have a seat,”. she said, all business.