“You know, it’s been a year since we’ve spent any time together…” I say.
“Do you miss me?” I think. “How are you possibly getting on without me?” I wonder.
“Really?!” you say. “It doesn’t even seem like it!” You laugh.
You say much more than you probably mean to. You don’t seem to miss me. You don’t find the world more difficult to navigate without me beside you. You don’t feel the massive me-sized void like I feel a you-sized void.
“I’ve just been so busy!” you explain.
“Have you?” I think.
You don’t realize that while you’ve continuously been telling me how busy you’ve been, I heard you at that party in June. I heard you saying how bored you were in your day to day and have nothing but free time lately. You don’t realize that my brother told me you asked him if his work was hiring because your “super busy” schedule has you home with nothing to do more often than not.
“We should try and schedule lunch or something,” I offer.
“Don’t you want to see me?” I wonder. “Please want to see me,” I plead.
I think back to the twice monthly askings of lunch/dinner/coffee/just a chat over the last year and how you’ve turned down every single one. You’re going to your cousins. It’s your goddaughter’s first day of school. You’re working. It’s the second day of your period. Your sister wants you to stay home. These are all valid excuses. It’s just life, isn’t it? We prioritize the things we deem important and necessary. We make time.
“Yeah, definitely!” you assure me.
We both know nothing about it will be definite. Another month will pass, I’ll ask you to go for lunch/dinner/coffee/just a fucking chat. You’ll have a birthday party/baby shower/second cousin’s daughter’s first communion and will politely decline. I’ll say, “Ahh okay, no worries, next time!” Knowing there probably won’t be a next time.
It’s funny how you don’t really know when the last time you see someone or the last time you do something will be until it is, in fact, the last time. Although, I know it won’t be the last time I see you because of shared friend groups and holiday functions. We’ll both attend and we’ll act like no time has passed. We’ll act like the model best friends of 10+ years that everyone has known us to be. Attached at the hip, moving in sync, finishing sentences and smiling in tandem. Except that the only thing we know about each other now is what’s posted on our Instagram Stories and that you haven’t chosen to hang out with me in a year.
And that’s just it, isn’t it? You stopped choosing me and I…
I’d choose you any day of the week.
At a very young age, I gave myself over to unrequited love. My parents and siblings who seemed annoyed with me, and inconvenienced by me, six days a week. Friends I admired so much who only tolerated me, boys who only wanted to be pals, celebrities who couldn’t actually break my heart and now you. My very best friend. Best Friends not quite Forever.
What happens when you’re not your best friend’s best friend? Do you wake up every morning feeling a little less than, a little scattered, a little not quite right? Are you clouded in angry confusion when you run into mutual friends and they’ve told you they just went out with them the other night? Do you cry when they’re brought up in conversation? Do you cry when you’re reading a novel or watching a show to get out of your head a bit and there’s a friendship portrayed that once mirrored your own? Do you cry when you come across an inside joke, a shared memory, a song once screamed along to in the car? Do you just cry, cry, cry?
And what does this mean, my dear best friend in limbo/former best friend/best friend on sabbatical? Did you not uphold our friendship in the same regard? Was it not something that you considered precious? Something that deserved to be fought for? Something you didn’t think to nurture? Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it never was. There were glimpses over the years that I chose to ignore. Like the discussion of plans and outings we’d have at length only to have you do them with someone else. Or how there was radio silence every year between June and August when we were on summer break from our teaching jobs and seeing me five days a week wasn’t mandatory so you just… didn’t see me at all. Is this just an extended summer break? Was our best friendship just one of convenience? And what does that mean for me if that’s what it was for you? Do I feel foolish? Hurt? Betrayed? Yes, yes, and a little.
But… but what if you’re really going through something? What if you’re really hurting and I haven’t been able to see it and pinpoint it properly because I’m drowning in my hurt feelings and you’re suffering alone? I’ve always spoken openly with you about my mental health struggles. I’m a safe space, I promise. Oh, but… but what if you don’t even know exactly what you’re going through and therefore can’t articulate it? What if you do know and you don’t want to tell me? I understand that. I’m sorry if I haven’t made myself available properly. I’m sorry if I’ve played a part in any of it. I’m sorry if you don’t feel comfortable speaking to me about it. I’m sorry.
Of course there’s always the chance you’ve simply grown out of our friendship. That you’ve outgrown me. Not every relationship, romantic or otherwise, is meant for forever, I know this. You’ve grown and changed in our time apart and I no longer fit into your life the way I used to. Like an ill-fitting dress. One that’s prone to static cling and I just cling and cling and cling… How do I stop clinging? There’s endless books and articles about moving on from a breakup. But how does one move on from a breakup with their best friend, a relationship I hold much more dear than a boyfriend or girlfriend? And how do you move on with unanswered questions? There’s so many questions…
“Hey, it’s been awhile! Will I see you at the Christmas dinner?’ I ask, hoping to sound casual.
I hope you come.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t miss it!” you say.
I hope you mean it.
I hope we laugh and chat like no time has passed. I hope you’ll fill me in on what your life’s been like lately. I hope you ask about mine. I hope your heart feels full like I know mine will, at least for the night. I hope I can walk away from it, thankful for what it was, even just for the night. I hope I can walk away from you, thankful for what we were, even for just short of forever.