Inside Jokes With Your Former Best Friend
You remember laughing more than you remember concrete events. You remember giggling at dumb things, like how your English teacher said the word “notebook” or the excuses you made when you got caught skipping Algebra. There’s a lot you don’t remember, including, but not limited to, why exactly you stopped being friends.
The last time you saw each other was when you were home last Thanksgiving visiting your parents. You ran into each other in the CVS parking lot and agreed to stop into Starbucks to catch up. You know, see what the other one has been up to the past six years.
There were a lot of awkward moments of nonconversation. The conversation that did occur was so formal, it could have attended the Academy Awards. After all this time, you are little more than strangers to each other, despite sharing some of your favorite and most amusing memories.
There was something about her that made you sad in a way you can’t really articulate. You remember her as being full of life, silly and giggly, but that part of her seems to have died. She has a spray-on tan and you can picture her getting too drunk and making out in a corner at frat houses. She talks about sleeping with strangers and your stomach turns when you remember how, back when you were best friends, you were the more sexually experienced one and that was only because you once let a boy take off your shirt (but not your bra). When the very traits you loved in someone no longer exist, it’s so silently heartbreaking. You parted ways, pretending you would “do this again.”
When you think of her now, you choose to only think of her as the silly, loud, kind of crazy girl who was fearful of talking to boys and held a Disney Channel Original Movie marathon with you one Saturday night. But you also try not to think of her now.
The Fastest Route to Your High School
It’s not surprising you remember how to get to your high school. I mean, you went there nearly every day for four years and you don’t have Alzheimer’s or dementia, so of course you remember how to get from point A to point B. What’s less expected is you still remember (in nearly crystal-clear detail) all the little things you picked up in your four year commute.
You remember which lights take seemingly forever to turn green. You recall which streets always had cops and which ones you could speed through. Mostly, you remember what it felt like to be 17 and think you’re a total badass because you have a car (albeit a shitty one you’re only allowed to drive until 10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends) and you’re going to college next year. You remember feeling you had a deep understanding of “who you were” and that nothing would shake that, which, of course, it did.
You were confident in a way that is far easier to be at 17 than at 22. You thought you were going to change the world, or at least change the world for some select individuals, but you wound up getting a job at the Gap, which isn’t even a creative failure. It’s just what Janeane Garofalo did in Reality Bites and that movie came out, like, 20 years ago.
When you were younger, you had all these grand ideas and then you… got busy? Realized they couldn’t provide a livable income? Lazy? Maybe there’s not a reason. Maybe it doesn’t work like that. If your 17-year-old self met you today, they’d probably be pretty disappointed, but that’s okay. After all, they also thought they were going to marry your high school boyfriend and that chasing vodka with champagne at Tracy DeSanto’s New Year’s Eve Party was a good idea. They only thought they had it together because there’s really no such thing as “having it together.”
The Date of Your Parents’ Anniversary
You thought your parents were the perfect couple right up until the moment your mother sat you down to tell you your father was currently living in a hotel and would never live in your home again. You thought only couples who fought until their voices got sore, who threw things, who swore at each other, got divorced. The idea that falling out of love could just happen without reason was beyond your ken.
Your parents got married when they were only 19. When you’re five, 19 seems ancient and you don’t think anything of it, but now, you look back and think, “My god. They were babies. They were younger than I am now.” They were children who fell deeply in love and then, flash, all of the sudden they had two kids and a home and a shared bank account and didn’t recognize the person they were sleeping next to. After 25 years, things get understandably stale. These are all things you’ve come to comprehend in the wake of The Big D, and, yet, you still miss things like family vacations or eating dinner together. A meal with the three of you wouldn’t make any sense now.
On the day the divorce finalized, your mother handed you their wedding album. Why she thought you would want this, you’re still unsure of, but you kept it. On the cover is the date of their marriage and, inside, are pictures of them, making eye contact and looking warm and in love. The last time they were in the same room together, they said “Hi” and averted eye contact.
The Middle Names, Birthdays, and Favorite Movies of Your Exes
When it all began, they were just a polite voice on the telephone. You didn’t know yet that they had two sisters and a half brother or about their allergy to kiwis. Over time, you began to know them nearly as intimately as you knew yourself. When you were falling in love, every fact acquired about them was considered special. You were able to read the transcript of their body, understanding the scar above their knee was from when their cousin pushed them off a skateboard and the dot under their eye was from when they got chicken pox at age six.
Now, you see each other at parties and have to pretend you don’t know any of this. You can’t ask how their sick father is doing because that feels grossly personal. You can’t make a comment about how they must be miserable, since they find theme parties twee because that feels like you’re coconspirators, which you’re no longer. Instead, you talk about the weather, or things that might as well be the weather.
You spent years studying for a test, only to find out the exam was canceled. It feels draining to have to go through that again, and, yet, you do. The moments of shared secrets and intimate stories trump the awkward small talk that one day might (and probably will) be.