The Friend Break-Up
It’s the break-up that nobody talks about.
The one that tears you apart in ways your high school boyfriends and hazy nights with strangers at the bar never really prepared you for.
The hardest goodbye.
Your college boyfriend might have promised you forever and always, but deep down, you knew that he never really meant it — and even if he did, it was only because he was just as naive as you were. There was always a hint of doubt in the back of your mind.
But you’ve never, ever looked into your best friend’s eyes and thought “Maybe one day, we’ll never speak again.”
You’re eight years old and bruised from falling off your bike, face-first onto solid concrete, bloody knees and scraped elbows, but she’s next to you, holding your hand.
You’re fifteen and you’ve locked yourself in the school bathroom, tears streaming down your face from your very first heartbreak, but she’s handing you tissues under the door, insisting that you skip sixth period together for a much needed ice cream break.
You’re eighteen and it’s your third night on campus, and you’re huddled together on the bottom bunk watching a rerun of Friends, and you tell her about how scared and lost and excited you are for the next four years, and she whispers back — me too.
You’re twenty-one and thirteen shots in, wondering if this is really how you should’ve celebrated your birthday, but she’s right behind you, holding back your hair as you regurgitate a night of regrets into the graffiti-ed stalls of the local dive.
You’re twenty-three and waving goodbye from the train platform, as she stares out the window and your eyes meet — and you’re both off to cities on opposite coasts, knowing that the miles and the times zones that separate you will inevitably tear you apart.
Then before you know it, you’re twenty-five and so caught up, lost in your busy schedule of nine-to-five meetings, soul cycling, and a disastrous string of first dates. You’re checking your phone between errands when you see a text from a number you haven’t dialed in years, saying — “Hey, I’m in town, let’s catch up over coffee?”
So you’re sitting across the table and staring at the girl who first met your gaze across the brightly-decorated first grade classroom, who walked over to your desk and declared, “Let’s be best friends.”
She looks up from the murky brown swirl of half and half dissolving in the bitter cup of watered-down espresso. It’s the same blue eyes and freckled smile you’ve always known—and she laughs quietly as she tells you about this guy she’s seeing, and this project she’s working on, and this juice cleanse that she’s planning to try before her trip to Cabo — but it’s all a flutter of small talk and meaningless words.
You smile politely and look away.
The drifting dust sparkles in the dim cafe light, and the skies outside are a musty shade of grey.
All you can think about is skinned knees, mint chocolate chip ice cream, Ross and Rachel, birthday shots, graduation smiles, and that feeling of losing each other forever.
Everything is almost exactly the same as it once was.
But the coffee tastes burnt, and the afternoon fades, and you’re nothing more than strangers once again.