The Fading and Blooming of Friendship

When I turned 16, I threw a house party in our tiny two-bedroom apartment. I invited my friends, who invited their friends, who invited their friends and my small party, turned into a party with approximately 80 people. I didn’t know half of the people who came. Teenagers were everywhere. My home was overcrowded and ruckus brewed outside. There was probably a fight of some sort. My parents went to their friend’s house, a few hallways down from us, staying close but still respecting my “independence.” About halfway through the party, two police officers stopped by (a noise complaint) and tried to break it up, but since we weren’t doing anything illegal, they left us alone. Also, I gave them cake (you may call it ‘bribery’; I call it generosity).

I have always had a lot of friends and acquaintances. I like people, and they tend to like me (despite my sarcasm and my sometimes condescending (or, so I’m told) behavior.) To this day, my uncle teasingly asks me if this year I’ll invite “40 of [my] closest friends to [my] birthday party.” I get the joke, but it’s actually not very true. I have a handful of truly close friends, and even fewer people whom I consider irreplaceable and close to my heart. Over the years, I’ve had various friends, but my closest friends remained constant. Always the same group. However, recently, all of that changed, and I was thrown off.

In the last few years, I have reflected quite often about friendship and the meaning of ‘friend’. I’ve let go of some friendships that weren’t working for me, and acquired a few that became kind of perfect. I realized that although people don’t really change (at their core), situations change and we adapt to whatever situation we are currently in. And, you can fight the good fight all you want, but eventually, you realize you can keep fighting an uphill battle, or you can just let go. I chose to let go, but not before a long internal struggle. It’s not easy for me to let go. It’s not a lighthearted, whimsical decision.

Every so often someone will ask me: “Hey, are you no longer friends with so and so?” And, every time I am asked, I stumble for a moment. I quickly consider how I should answer the question, because I realize people are expecting a more profound and juicy answer than “nope.” So, I usually say something like, “Not really. We grew apart. Shit happens.” Most people are respectful and leave it at that. Still, every time someone asks, I hesitate, I remember, and I reflect.

Breaking up is hard to do, especially with a seasoned friendship. Every year you and your friend share is a year comprised of memories. So many memories. And, you and your friend hold on to these memories, slowly interlacing the old memories with the new experiences. You create inside jokes; you share secrets; you cry and laugh with each other. You mold a friendship. A sacred friendship. A truly unique friendship. And, then, one day you fall out of friendship love. The jokes stop; the secrets are withheld; the laughing and crying become obsolete. It happens. And, it happens quickly and — often — painfully.

I recently came across an article about how letting go of friends is a natural process in life. You grow apart, you move, you find different interests. It happens. But, just because something is considered natural doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult. Some friendships, life-long friendships fade. Others reach a breaking point due to some unidentified, unresolved, underlying conflict. The point is, letting go of friendships happens, but it’s hardly ever easy.

Just the four of us, building castles in the sky

What is it about letting go of a friend that squeezes your soul and leaves heaviness in your gut? We have the right to mourn a loss of a friendship. We do. If you really think about it, losing a life-long friendship is losing something that has been constant in your life for many years. It was something you could always rely on, something you’ve always cherished, and something you were very proud of. I embrace my friendships. I put them up on flagpoles and sing a song of victory. I scream out to the world: “Look at me and my friend, we’ve made it! We will be friends forever.” And, in a moment, a single moment, it all vanishes. And, I am left holding my breath.

It takes a while to get over a loss. I learn to accept the void. I lower the flagpole, and I hum a slow melody of defeat. I whisper to the world: “Stop looking at me. It’s over.” It’s natural to let go of a friendship and it’s natural to lament over the loss. Weeks, months, and years pass quickly by and I randomly find myself wistful for the good old times, because friendships are relationships, right? And, as with many romantic relationships, we always tend to easily focus on the “good times” and have to force ourselves to remember why the relationship ended in the first place. But, I am lucky because once again I can throw my arms up into the air and shout: “Look at me and my new friend! We will be best friends forever.” And, it all begins again: the jokes, the secrets, the tears, and the laughter. ‘Till next time, ~ D~

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Originally published at aglimpseofthepast.wordpress.com on June 24, 2015.

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