|We didn’t start out as friends. In fact, we 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.
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 surprised myself by making a friend that I suspect might be my best. 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, my only 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 may 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 which one 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.
Obviously, I wasn’t referring to the 1980’s classic breakout hit that wasn’t. I originally wrote the preceding post in November 2016 when I was feeling particularly insecure about my friendships. As I have mentioned elsewhere, having a good quality friend in your thirties is a small miracle, and I have always been the type of person to take my friendships very seriously… because they have always been so hard for me to come by, even as a child, when all one had to do to make a friend is walk up to someone and say, “Raphael is your favorite Ninja Turtle, too? Let’s be friends!” and there you had it.
Except nobody liked Raphael! They were all into Michaelangelo. No exaggeration; every single kid in my class liked Mikey best. Childhood is brutal.
After my best friend at the time suddenly stopped speaking to me in early 2013 for reasons I will never know or understand, I decided that having a best friend was a terrible idea altogether. It was childish. Why label one friend “best” and the others not? As reality would have it, though, you may end up (sometimes inexplicably) liking some people better than others, and before you know it, you’ve got enough candies to evolve your Friendo into a Best Friendo. You go for it. You need the experience.
I mentioned earlier that I wrote “Bad Ideas” in 2016. It’s mid-2018 right now. What’s changed, if anything?
These days, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad idea to dive headfirst into friendships, even if they don’t end up lasting a long time. People are like pieces of trash in the ocean; they come together, they drift apart, some of them get eaten by whales and end up on television as proof that humanity is awful. The important thing is making connections with people who will add value to your life and not take away from it.
I’ve also vastly changed my approach to friendships. What I probably didn’t realize at the time was that I was, in some ways, using my friendship with Ex-Friendo as an escape from a cold reality I didn’t want to face. That wasn’t fair to her. It’s not fair to give your friends any kind of additional work other than the stuff that comes with the territory of being a friend. Let’s not kid ourselves; sometimes, being friends with us is a tough job. We’re moody and complicated. We forget important dates from time to time. We allow ourselves to get so absorbed in our own lives that we neglect to nurture our friendships. Sometimes, we let our verbal diarrhea become toxic over Christmas dinner. The fact that anybody has the resilience to remain friends with each of us is quite an accomplishment, and the same can be said of our friends about us. The only job a friend has is to be a friend. Period.
Maybe warning them when they’re about to be unpleasantly surprised by a stripper on their birthday would be helpful, too. Not that that’s oddly specific or anything.
I guess the last difference from my original post is that I don’t really worry about not being friends with Adam down the road. If life takes these two pieces of trash in different directions in the future, that would be unfortunate, but if I am to focus on the right now instead of the what if, we’re pretty fucking awesome bros, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Besides, I know too much. He’d have to have me assassinated, and he can’t afford the quality ninjas. If that’s not job security, I don’t know what is!