It’s amazing how much alike they feel.
We didn’t start out as friends. In fact, barely said two civil words to each other for months after we first met. I’m not sure when or why that changed, but change it did; a complete 180.
We were an unlikely pair; I was young and angry and outspoken. I was dealing with health issues meant for people who were twice my age and learning to cope with the reality of my situation. I was in a volatile state of mind. She, on the other hand, made a plan with her life and stuck to it. Yet, she was very much like a wildfire that refused to be contained. She went full force with everything, even if she was charging toward calamity.
I enjoyed her company and spent as much time in it as I possibly could. There were nights when we’d be out until 2 in the morning on a work night, talking about absolutely nothing and everything at the same time. We didn’t have to censor ourselves. Everything was open for discussion. She accepted me, and taught me to embrace what I had thought of as “flaws” in both my character and physical appearance. I, in turn, almost set her on fire by giving her the smallest birthday cake I could find and loading it up with as many candles as could fit upon it. We were sarcastic soulmates, but we turned it down when one of us needed a heart-to-heart. She was my best friend, and I loved her very much.
One day, rather abruptly, she stopped talking to me. We didn’t have a falling out. She just… stopped. I reached out to her several times over the years, only hearing back from her once or twice. I asked her not to be a stranger. She told me she was busy. I told her that a phone call every now and then wouldn’t take up that much time. She agreed. But she never did call me, or visit me, or send me a card on my birthday, or anything like that. A few months ago, I sent her a text message on her birthday but never received a reply. I decided to stop pouring my energy into a friendship that was clearly over.
If someone had told me four years ago that my best friend, the person I loved more than anyone else in the world, would be a stranger to me today, I would never have believed it. But alas, here we are. I am less hurt about this situation now than I once was. The long, silent years have given me time to reflect upon the relationship I once held closest.
I did love her.
She made me challenge my fears.
She helped me accept myself; every last blessed quirk.
I was always the one reaching out to her; she never initiated any plans.
I was always making excuses for her.
She never compromised or met me halfway.
She never remembered anything that I found important.
I’m very sure she tells a different story than this, not that it matters. Something changed and irreparably damaged what we had… or what I perceived we had. It does hurt to think that maybe she didn’t value our friendship as much as I did, but I can’t change that, nor would I take back the friendship we did have. After the flames of my heartbreak died down, there were still valuables left in the ashes; the end of our friendship didn’t mean that every wonderful memory or gift never existed, or that I wasn’t still benefiting from what I gained from having this person in my life for as long as she was.
Some months ago, I met someone who reminded me so much of my friend, and all the same feelings of affection and unadulterated platonic joy were stirred up. It had been years since I could take the piss of someone whom I simultaneously love to bits and want to throttle.
“In other words,” you, as my single reader must be thinking, “you haven’t learned a thing from your whirlwind best friendship of yore that came crashing down unexpectedly and broke your heart.”
No, apparently not.
I have learned to accept that there will come a point when this particular friendship will end, and that I won’t necessarily be expecting or ready for it. My friend will get married, move to California, start a new job, or get some fabulous plastic surgery to look like a model, and my friendship will take the back burner to the goings on of their life. (The way back burner. The one that doesn’t always work, so you have to turn it off and on a couple of times to get it going. You know what I’m talking about!)
I expect it to hurt. I expect to be bitter. I also expect to heal from the experience and tell myself that having a friend that I like that much is probably not a great idea. And I expect that I will ignore my own advice and make a friend like that every so many years, because fuck great ideas. Sometimes the bad ones are the ones you learn the most from.
Wow, what a crazy few weeks we’ve all had. I find it so fascinating that millions of people who don’t know each other have felt like they are just. so. done. with 2016, for any variety or combination of reasons. I am definitely part of that group of people (hello!), and I anticipate sharing some of the ways I have felt hurt on both a personal and grander scale, for cathartic purposes.
I have 4 days to finish the last 250 or so pages of this book before I have to return it to the library. One would think that three weeks would be plenty of time to finish reading a single book, but I certainly manage to drag shit out.
we don’t know anything.
All I ask of you is one thing that you’ll never do…
by Richard Brautigan
I was trying to describe you to someone a few days ago. You don’t look like any girl I’ve ever seen before.
I couldn’t say “Well she looks just like Jane Fonda, except that she’s got red hair, and her mouth is different and of course, she’s not a movie star…”
I couldn’t say that because you don’t look like Jane Fonda at all.
I finally ended up describing you as a movie I saw when I was a child in Tacoma Washington. I guess I saw it in 1941 or 42, somewhere in there. I think I was seven, or eight, or six.
It was a movie about rural electrification, a perfect 1930’s New Deal morality kind of movie to show kids. The movie was about farmers living in the country without electricity. They had to use lanterns to see by at night, for sewing and reading, and they didn’t have any appliances like toasters or washing machines, and they couldn’t listen to the radio. They built a dam with big electric generators and they put poles across the countryside and strung wire over fields and pastures.
There was an incredible heroic dimension that came from the simple putting up of poles for the wires to travel along. They looked ancient and modern at the same time.
Then the movie showed electricity like a young Greek god, coming to the farmer to take away forever the dark ways of his life. Suddenly, religiously, with the throwing of a switch, the farmer had electric lights to see by when he milked his cows in the early black winter mornings. The farmer’s family got to listen to the radio and have a toaster and lots of bright lights to sew dresses and read the newspaper by.
It was really a fantastic movie and excited me like listening to the Star Spangled Banner, or seeing photographs of President Roosevelt, or hearing him on the radio “… the President of the United States… “
I wanted electricity to go everywhere in the world. I wanted all the farmers in the world to be able to listen to President Roosevelt on the radio….
And that’s how you look to me.