I was sitting in a cafe today and was about to order a coffee, and I saw these two girls a few tables over, laughing and smiling and touching each other’s shoulders when they said something particularly witty. I thought of you, and I ordered a tea instead.
Isn’t that the definition of our friendship, that I like coffee and you like tea? I’m just a little too social, a little too energetic for my own good – you’re there to smooth things out, to cut through my bullshit with a deadpan one-liner. And that’s why we go so well together…well, went.
As painful as it is to commit to writing, the simple truth of the matter is that we’re growing apart. It’s no one’s fault, really, and there was never any angry separation. Even that one time when we disagreed so vigorously that we cried, it wasn’t in anger. Our voices were raised, and we teetered on the edge of mean, but we never needed to get cutting. We are just different people, headed in very different directions. Geographically and emotionally, we are just nowhere near each other.
And sometimes we talk, we have conversations that feel like slipping on an old, perfectly worn pair of jeans, but they are markedly less frequent. We just don’t have as much to say. Spilling our respective histories since the last time we spoke is getting harder, it’s taking up more time, and every moment between us where I hear of a new, exciting, important change in your life that happened over a month ago – it stings a bit. I’m so happy for you, but you didn’t write me that night to tell me.
But, hey, that’s okay. I didn’t write you either. I didn’t write you when I got a new boyfriend, when I got published, when I got that email that made me tear up in front of my computer screen in the middle of a Starbucks. Two years ago, I would have breathlessly recounted every minute detail, and you would have made it all better. You were always there with a band-aid, and you’ll never know how much I appreciate it.
My secrets, the ones you have, even that very important one that only you will ever know – keep them. Please keep them, and I will keep yours. Know that you are a little safety deposit box in my life, that you have kept things for me that were too much to bear on my own, and that no conversation between us at three in the morning on a beach will ever be forgotten. Know that the time you got way too drunk and said into my camera, “Hey, stop taping me,” through your sodden laughter will always be one of my fondest memories. I watch that video and hear myself smiling as I speak, laughing with you, giving you direction and telling you your motivation, and I am back in that moment. It makes my chest feel warm and tight, it makes me swell up with happiness–but I will never put it on Facebook, don’t worry.
I know I will never lose you, that you will always remain in my life in some way, even if only in fond memory and the occasional “Oh my god, it’s been forever, how are you?” I want you to understand just how important you were to me, how important you will always be, even if our time spent together doesn’t reflect that. Nothing about our friendship will ever feel sour, and even though it’s petering out as I write this (perhaps the most painful way for any love to fade), I have only the fondest feelings for you.
I love you, and I don’t think we say that enough to our friends. But as much as I have ever loved a man or my own family, in a very different and perfectly unique way, I love you. Please remember that no matter what may happen down the road, no matter what man may break your heart or terrible event may befall you, that I will always keep the part of you you gave to me. Though that love may lie dormant, though we may slip quietly into years-long stretches of not having the time to talk, I will never forget that it is there.
I want the world for you, and perhaps that is what I must thank you the most for. You have taught me what it is to be truly altruistic, to watch your life slowly starting to pass by without me in it and not feeling wronged or excluded. I want what is best for you, no matter what that means. I want to see you grow, even if from afar.
Please send me pictures when you can, and know that there will always be one of us on my wall. Even when, years from now, someone may see it and have no frame of reference for who that beautiful girl is next to me, I want to look at it every day.
I promise that when we’re back in the same time zone, when you’ve come back from your side of the world and I from mine, we’ll have a day together that will slip into a night and we’ll lose oxygen from all of the things we just need to say to each other. I promise that I will make the time. But I know in my heart that even if we punctuate our very opposite lives with a few precious moments of togetherness, that we are not what we were. And that’s okay. We were best friends, we looked forward to introducing our boyfriends to each other, we cried in each other’s arms. We’ll always have that, and we don’t need to prove it to anyone, including ourselves.
I miss you, but I’m comfortable in that. I smile when I think of the life you’re living, and don’t begrudge you living it so fully that our friendship no longer fits into our schedules. Please know, above all else, that even though it’s not nearly as obsessed over in our society as romantic love, that your love has changed me more than any man I have ever met. I am a better person for having been your friend, and you are in everything I do.
And by the way, that tea was nice, but I still needed a coffee afterwards. Be well.