Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Loony

Marisa posted about breaking up with her best friend. That's a subject near to me, I tell you what. My real life friends glaze over if I get on the topic of the platonic breakup. Yes, I say the same things over and over. I must sound like a whining, broken record. I don't understand, it came out of nowhere, why'd she have to make it ugly, we could have just grown apart. It's a stupid story, in the end. We met in college--she was part of the small circle of friends I managed to cling to, socially awkward and shy as I am. She was a year older and knew a lot about music and drugs and that stuff while I was a babe in arms, seriously underinformed. I thought we were such good friends. I thought I would have done anything for her. She was ill with some undiagnosed mystery illness, and I worried constantly. If it had been a matter of bone marrow or something like that I would have been first in line to donate. Then she stopped calling, stopped taking my calls, turned down all invitations, sometimes rudely. I figured she was just busy or she found me boring. Then, out of the clear blue, an email accusing me of being a bad friend. Never visiting. Never calling. Never caring about her health. I was so wounded. It hurt for a long time. I went back and forth between feeling like a horrible friend and feeling like she was the world's biggest asshole. It was SHE who had been ignoring ME, right?

Now, years later, I realize that from her perspective, I was a bad friend, and from mine, she was too. There's really no way to fix that that I could see. As time passed, I remembered more and more times where she had demanded attention, loyalty, agreement in a not-friendly way. She was just kind of like that. It was great when I was a young stupid college student, looking for guidance from older, wiser heads. It kind of sucked when I got smarter and older myself and she would shake her head wearily at my ideas. From her point of view: I would call to invite her to a party, or out to dinner, never just to talk. I never showed up at her house unexpectedly.

Sometimes I see her in the subway and I hide or walk the other way. I think she must be doing the same thing. If I find an artifact of our friendship somewhere in the house--a photo, something she gave me, a damn mix tape--I swing between wanting to burn it, destroy it, and wanting to keep it safe forever. In that way, it's probably a lot like a romantic breakup. But with a romantic breakup, maybe you can at least feel like it happened because you wanted different things. But with a just-friend? That kind of friendship is supposed to be free of demands like that. There aren't expectations or destinations. You're supposed to just BE friends. Maybe if you have a big fight or disagreement about something, it makes sense to part ways.

I do think I got something from all those years when we were good friends. So there is that.

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