If We Can’t Be Friends First, Then We’ll Never Be Lovers

Twenty20 / sashaberlin
Twenty20 / sashaberlin

At every age, I had a good friend, someone to share dreams and laughters with and fight against the inevitable sadness we encounter in life. I still have them, but they are spread around the world, they dream, they laugh and come across that inevitable sadness on some paths that I do not walk on anymore. I miss them sometimes, when I let my thoughts travel. Those are deep relationships that require time to build. I miss their uniqueness because the good moments we had are unrepeatable in time and space. I miss them and it saddens me because if there is one thing we cannot have in life, that is permanence.

From every relationship, we end up with a bit of sadness. It’s inevitable. There are friends who stay, friends who depart and friends who betray. And from the last two types, maybe the only constant is the sensation that our hearts are inconsolable. But that is just the illusion of permanence. Nothing stays for ever, not even a heartbreak. I talk about friends, but I refer to lovers as well because for me, a lover is first of all a friend. If we cannot be friends at first, we cannot be really lovers.

In high school, I had a very close friend, we used to go to the library together and leave the shelves deserted after filling our backpacks with food for the soul for the summer holiday. We used to go to the theater together and marvel at all the possibilities of imaginary worlds. And I remember one of the greatest delights was the short moment I spent with her in a café, drinking a hot chocolate, between the end of the theater play and the time she had to take the last bus. I remember all the times she slept at my place and all the talking and giggling before falling asleep. About books, boys, about what life is and what life will be. I remember when we decided to take flying classes and a great summer we spent on the airfield outside my home town, taking turns at the gliding routine and picking flowers on that field while waiting to fly. There is a time for purity in the life of each of us, when we look at the future with hope and we wait with our hearts open for the unknown and excitement of future experiences. There are relationship so deep in which dreams and expectations mingle that we cannot tell precisely which belong to us and which one to the other person.

From all the people I know, she is the only one who made me a character in a novel.

There are friendships so deep that sometimes they resemble a love affair, you see your friend acting a bit like a jealous lover, they ask you whom have you been with and what you were doing, you see your friend a bit afraid someone else will get so deep inside your heart. And sometimes that bit of jealousy is sweet, you say don’t worry, this thing we have is just between the two of us. And it will stay like this all the time, because I do know something that is permanent: it’s called the permanence of memory.

I remember all the letters I sent to my friend back then and how happy I was later in life when I found someone to write to. When two introverts meet and they discover they can share their universe, it is an amazing feeling, which cancels all the loneliness and the inevitable doubts of too much time spent by ourselves. Friendship is about trust. And so is love.

The strongest memory about my friend is her departure. I did not realise fully what was happening until I hugged her for the last time and I saw her getting inside the bus and I knew that after that bus, there was a train, a plane and a lifetime of unshared journeys anymore. She was leaving and taking away with her my adolescence, that time of purity and hope and trust. The tears I shed that day are probably the beginning of my obsession about departures because from that day on, I wanted to keep everything and make it last. It was precisely that day when I started becoming a sort of a Don Quijote obsessed with catching time and make it stand still. If you were to paint a particular second, how would you do it?

There are friends who stay, friends who depart and friends who betray.

At the end of adolescence, there are some cynical years that start, a sort of readjustment to the new perception of reality we have. I left my home town and in the first day at university, I met someone. A girl who approached me and seemed to be very determined to befriend me. I remember I noticed there was something strange about her way of laughing. It felt very fake and hypocritical. My intuition was triggering some alarm signals, but I reduced that inner voice to silence. I needed a friend. But now I know that when intuition tries to tell me something, I should allow it to make its way into my thoughts and enter the thinking process. There are these two tools that humans seem not to use very often nowadays: intuition and imagination.

We started spending a lot of time together and I shared with her my fantasy and all my poetical impulses. Although things did not turn out well in the end, there were still some pleasant times we spent together. I was in love with a man back then, but it was not precisely love for the real man that he was, but more love for an imaginary lover that I started building on the base of the real person. Artists, building characters all the time. She was my friend and I trusted her as my confident and companion in imagination. Until one day, when reality called. And reality had her voice and said: he is my boyfriend now. And I collapsed, with all the drama passionate people are capable of, I said: this is the end. Of our friendship, of the imaginary man I created and the end of my trust in people.


I regained my trust in people meanwhile, but I don’t know precisely how that happened, maybe it was just that I was lucky enough to meet people who were so dear and lovely and deserved my trust. Or maybe I regained my trust in people because my heart was not completely broken back then, the heart is a delicate mechanism, as long as it ticking, it cannot be completely broken. I guide myself through life with an incurable optimism, although optimism is not a disease, but some universal cure that makes the world move further. No matter how many times life betrayed me, after the normal times of sadness, I rise up again. I fall and I rise. Again and again. And that white rose I cultivate for my former friend says: I hope your reality lived up to my fantasy.

We don’t know when we meet those friends that stay the longest, how it happens and what great impact they have on our lives. I was at a party and I noticed this girl, there was some magnetic force pulling me towards her. I must have seen something in her eyes, that we might be alike. We started having wine and laughing until we got terribly drunk.

There is a time for purity in the life of each of us, when we look at the future with hope and we wait with our hearts open for the unknown and excitement of future experiences.

That night when I befriended her, I couldn’t tell we were to share all these years, that we will lose contact with all those people that were at that party and with many others, but still have each other. At every age I had a dearest friend to share my passions and my dreams with. Or aches, if any. But she stayed the longest. I remember all the people that we met, with whom we sometimes shared a table or a life with and I see them gone now. But it’s still me and her and the poetry we share and a life lived to tell and to believe in something. I remember all the talks we had and the light ways of changing the topic of our conversations from the difference between coke and pepsi to the meaning of life: if it’s expanding the consciousness or love.

From all the people I know, she is the one that matches best my romanticism because of all the poetry we wrote, for lovers, ex-lovers or imaginary lovers. From all the people I know, she is the only one who made me a character in a novel. I remember all the books I gave her for all her birthdays because for me, a book with something handwritten on it is a sign of affection. I remember how we both escaped into the visual arts, when words sunk into the ocean. And I remember calling her from far away just to let you know that now I know, love exists.

Life is all about sharing and if you have a friend to discover it with or to run away from emotional vampires together, you are not alone. I remember the many drinks we had until the morning, her batman costume on the beach in Den Haag and the New Year’s eve we spent together, how I left at some point and I came back and everything we passed through was a bit out of phase. But this friendship and its out of phase similar emotions is the only case I know of balance in similarity. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Want more writing like this? Explore Laura’s book The Heart is the Center of the Universe available here.

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