We didn’t start as best friends. Heck, we barely acknowledged each other’s presence, however your quirky dad jokes kept me intrigued. We met during our early college years and had little in common except for our sense of humor and love for a good wood-fired pizza. You were introverted, but loved that I encouraged you to step out of your shell. You never said much, but when you did, those words left an impact, and I liked that about you. You were the strong, silent kind.
Despite all the odds, we became best friends. You became my sole confidant, and I yours. We sat in the car for hours talking about our highs and lows, our goals and ambitions, our deepest secrets and darkest fears. We made it work despite the miles between us as I traveled the world, found time for each other despite the different time zones, and created memories without seeing each other in person for months at a time.
We made it work because we were us and there was no one like us. Or so I thought.
Most people dive into relationships with rose-tinted glasses. But not us. We never started with the intention of it ever turning into a romantic relationship, it just did. We nurtured a slow romantic relationship from the ground up, building on years of friendship and understanding. You always stocked up on my favorite car snacks on long drives and I returned the favor by playing your favorite tunes. I loved summers and you preferred winters; I loved going out and you preferred staying in; I devoured books and you barely made it past the first chapter. Despite our differences, we always found common ground because we cared enough about each other to find a way to be in each other’s lives.
As the years went by, I thought we would stay the same, because despite all the changes that took place in our lives, despite all the people that walked in and out of my story, you were always the main character. I guess I failed to understand that I was merely a chapter in yours.
Over time, I continued to make an effort to stay in your life the way I always did. I continued to check in on you, to make sure you knew you were a priority in my life. I’d make time for you even if it was for a couple of minutes every other day. No matter how hectic my life got, I prioritized you, because in my mind, you were one of the few people who I always thought would return the favor. It wasn’t an expectation, it was an understanding based on years of friendship and milestones that we’d achieved together.
Somewhere along the line, your priorities shifted and you failed to send a courtesy email. Somewhere along the line, you forgot to make time for me and instead created excuses for your absence. I guess I missed out on the memo, because I still placed you on that pedestal and chose to treat you with the love and respect that you deserved. I had so much faith in you that I failed to see I was no longer a priority in your life the way you were in mine and it hurt like hell.
The pain I felt was like nothing I’d ever felt before. There were nights where I’d cry myself to sleep, only to wake up the next morning with a heaviness in my heart. For weeks I questioned if I could’ve done something differently to prevent my best friend from turning into an acquaintance.
As the heaviness slowly subsided, I did some self-introspection and came to a very comforting understanding. The fact that you decided not to make me a priority was not a reflection on me as a person, but simply an inevitable outcome of the passing of time. I’d wake up every morning and choose to make you a priority, but you’d decided that yours had shifted.
One morning, I collapsed onto the ground after a long run amidst a nature trail in a foreign city. I took a deep breath and finally decided to write an ending to our chapter. I decided to give myself the closure that I would never get from you. I finally decided to take you off that pedestal, because the truth was you’d moved on without me, and I couldn’t hold onto the old version of us if I wanted to grow into a new version of me.