They say don’t make homes out of people. Too bad I didn’t pay heed to it.
I know I said that I love you and miss you, but I didn’t tell you how much I sometimes wish that I didn’t. I really tried to hate you for a while, you know. Because I hate that you ruined everything for me: my home, my sense of belonging, a full city. I hate that you took away not only my memories but also my ability to make new ones.
I hate that I can’t tell you about any new book, movie, or person, and that without sharing it with you, any experience feels incomplete. I hate that you took away the delight of supermarkets, malls, clothes, shoes, food from me, that having green tea now feels more of an emotional chore than a physiological pleasure. I hate that you can feel nostalgic about our blue designed mug but I can’t even recall it without feeling the bitterness of having destroyed it. I hate that I can’t bear to watch TV anymore because missing our chats in front of it feels more agonizing than nostalgic now. I hate that I can’t feel any old attachments or form new ones, not only with people but even with inanimate objects, like fridges or microwaves.
I hate that instead of only missing you before, now it’s painful when I have to suppress the reflex to yell for you whenever I see a cockroach or a lizard or when I’ve misplaced something. I hate that I can’t enjoy the day-to-day activities or small things in life when I can no longer imagine your part-delight, part-exasperation (with me), part-shared-excitement-and-pleasure (of them).
You told me that you quote me almost as much as you quote your family to the new people in your life. You were the only person I used to quote, period. I hate that you’ve made that traumatic for me, that the idea of setting up a new house feels traumatic, that the idea of living feels so, too, because it’ll make your absence feel more prominent. Part of me likes feeling dead, not fully present in reality, because it helps to diminish the pain of your absence—your natural absence from the world around me and a forced absence from the world inside my head.
I hate that you had to be the one to witness my first steps into the outside world, that I learned to become more accepting of it by seeing it through your lens, that I found new definitions for home through you, ones that comprised laughter, acceptance, and emotional security.
I hate that you were someone who could actually understand me, that you made me feel known and loved. I hate that you had the power to take away the only stable aspect of my life—our friendship and my home. I hate that you gave me not only a past to grieve over, but also lost futures—you were my tether to the world, and so losing you had to mean losing the world.
I hate discovering there could be something more painful than my parents and my ‘person’ betraying my trust—you betraying my memory. I hate that I can no longer trust any instinct, emotion, or thought, let alone a decision, that for a while I kept questioning myself if I could have been a better friend to you, if listening to you better would have made me realize sooner that you needed an intervention. But I also hate knowing that all my insecurities were justified. I hate how unconsciously easy it was for you to abandon me. I hate feeling that you forgetting me was inevitable, if not now, then later. I hate knowing that even as I write this, I’m hesitant to send it, because I have had to learn that silence can be a more preferable response from you.
I hate that the invalidation of our friendship made me question the authenticity of it in its entirety, that I had to wonder if my basic instinct is self-destructive, since it always tells me to be your friend. I hate that preserving myself has to mean staying content with learning to live in a world in which you exist, even if it’s not in my own. I hate knowing that it’s not so much as you giving me a direct wound that made me collateral damage, but rather, it was me caring about you as much that did.
I hate that I had to choose you over myself so many times to finally realize that they were not the same thing.
I hate that it took you this long to finally write to me, and for me to be able to say this. As grateful as I still am for the closure your letter may bring, I hate knowing that even if you had been feeling it, without the lockdown, you probably may not have written or sent it for years, maybe never.
Above all, I hate that I can’t truly hate you, that I can feel love for you even when I can’t feel any for myself, that I miss you longer than I can stay mad at you. I hate that even though it was me who did all one could to save us, it is you who gets to do the missing. Because I can only miss you, but I can no longer miss us, since I had to stop believing in an entity that no longer existed.
So yeah. I love you and miss you more than you could possibly imagine. And that doesn’t change ever.