Artichokes. (September 2009)

It was an insightful discussion about humanity when we first determined that humans were like artichokes. It takes a lot of work getting at the center of someone. It takes time, effort, a hearty appetite for more, and patience to get to the heart of an artichoke, much like it does getting at the heart of another human being.

Neither of us necessarily thought that this conversation was particularly poignant; we both just thought we were discussing humanity. This observation had come from him, after he had found out that I had a younger brother. (This was very early on in our friendship; we had known each other for a few years, we didn't really know each other well.) His exact words are long gone, but basically, his point was summed up properly with "We're like artichokes."

I agreed with him because I realized that while he learned more about me, I had yet to even scratch the surface with what knowledge I knew of him. We were not like onions, because I didn't expect that as I peeled away the layers to get at the core, I'd cry so much as learn how to interact with Artichoke Boy here.

That interaction, the initial joke about artichokes, was a little over a year ago. In that time, there has been a great deal of peeling away at the individual leaves that have slowly, but surely, exposed the heart of the artichoke. Here's what I know for sure though.

He's probably the smartest person I've met in a while. He's determined to do everything, and he will do all that he can humanly fit into his life. He wants to go to Stanford and go into the medical field. He is paranoid about microwaves and cell phones, refusing to hold a microwave to his ear or cook his food in a cell phone… or does it go the other way around? Some of the fear is rational; most of it is just odd. And some of it is actually faked, just to make him seem quirkier when he's around his friends.

He is a skinny little twig, and, at one point, believed that he had a tan even though he makes ghosts look tan. His hair is always irritating me, since he's got this spot at the front of his forehead that always has shorter hair than the rest of the hair. I think the spot is from a scar up along his hairline that caused the hair to not grow there, or it's a bizarre cowlick. Sometimes, people, mostly girls, try to fix the spot. He bats away their hand and tries to hide or undo their handiwork just to make a stubborn point that he wasn't about to let a girl mess with his hair.

He plugs his ears when he hears any sort of bad words. It could be as benign as "phooey" or as biting as an F-bomb, but he puts his hands over his ears and sort of tries to hum his way out of the awkward situation. He blushes at the slightest mention of anything relating to sex and the opposite gender, any implication that he may eventually fall victim to hormones.

He has recently lost his mind with the stresses of junior year of high school, because he's taken to humming and bobbing around in place when he's idle. We've also learned that it is possible to fall over by bobbing up and down in place, even if there is nothing else around that would invoke a fall. He's quite talented.

He's got these eyes, somewhere between green and brown. Maybe hazel, maybe brown, I can't tell. Has terrible eyesight, but then again, some people do. He's a Boy Scout, Eagle Scout, actually, and does a ton of volunteer work in his free time. He also studies for all of his tests, taking every single thing very seriously because that's what he does.

He lives, I think, to see all the different things he could possibly see in his life. Sometimes I worry that he does so much, therefore, losing the point behind doing any of it. He seems to enjoy it, so I don't question it too much. Just as long as he's happy with what he's doing, that's all that matters.

There is so much that he is that there is too much to add. Simply put, he is Riley and he is the little twig who I get into loads of awkward situations with.