Monday, May 11, 2009

You Gotta Friend...

One of my close friends went abroad for college. She was always very smart, got into an Ivy League college, so it was no surprise that she was expanding her horizons in Europe.

We kept in touch with the occasional email, but it was nothing compared to how we were before...when we would talk several times a day and would never go more than a few days without seeing each other.

I thought that her years in Europe would alter her, and our friendship...that she would be different when she returned, and we would never be able to pick-up where we left-off.

That wasn't true.

I remember picking her up in my car and we went to a diner. (In very typical New Jersey fashion.)

I said to her, "Is it okay if I stop for gas?"

She said, "No! It's not okay with me! I would rather us run out of gas and push the car the rest of the way to the diner!"

We both laughed, and, from then on, things were exactly the way they had always been. Our friendship was completely intact, and I knew I was sitting next to one of my closest friends for life.

Some friendships are meant to last forever...others aren't...and maybe that's okay. Maybe that's just a part of life.

I have never been a good one for change. I don't like it. I'm not sure if it's one of those things that come with losing a parent as a kid...yes, I definitely have some issues. I like for things to stay exactly as they are. I hate saying goodbye, I hate losing people in anyway.

I have joked that I am still in touch with the friends I made in the hospital when I was born. (That's not exactly true.) I like to stay in touch with people! When my family moved in the third grade. I desperately tried to write letters to all of my former classmates, and was so disappointed when they didn't all write back to me. Over Christmas, I met-up with my best friend from my first school...we hadn't seen each other in nearly seventeen years.

Maybe I try too hard. Maybe I force my friendship on people when I should just let them go.

This past year, I had to do just that...let go of friendships that I thought would be around forever...people I spoke to every day, that had seen me at my best and worst, and that knew everything about me...a part of my life one day, and then not there the next.

Losing a close friend is really hard. I stopped asking myself why things happened the way they did, and just accepted it.

Things had just changed.

I picked-up a book recently...Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I learned from Judy Blume.

(That title could not be more true.)

One of the essays, by Megan Crane, inspired by Judy's Just As Long As We're Together (my personal favorite!) is all about a woman realizing that she and her "very best friend in the whole world" are no longer not just best friends anymore...but no longer friends at all.

I read the last page a couple of times over, relating to it so much...this was the story of my friendship, this was how I felt, this is what I had lost.

I'll just quote the passage right here, since I can't say it any better myself...

There are things I know about myself that I would never have learned without T. in my life. Some of those things are incredibly unpleasant, it's true, but that might be what friends are for. There were times when she seemed to be the only thing between me and a great darkness I feared I might get lost in. We were silly together in a way that I have never recreated with another friend and don't imagine I ever will. I miss the stories that only she knows, the jokes only she gets. As I wrote somewhere else, losing a friend is like losing a language, and I miss the one we spoke together. I loved her with the whole of my heart, and I won't regret that. There is no reason to imagine that some day one of us will reach out, the other will be receptive, and we will reaccess that intricate, secret world that we shared.

It is also possible that T. and I will never reconnect, never so much as speak again, and that's fine, too. I don't wish her ill. Quite the opposite.

Reading Judy Blume taught me this lesson long before I would have to learn it for myself. You can't hold onto people. Sometimes you have to let them go.

I believe that people come into your life for a reason, and it's up to you to learn the lessons they can teach you. I believe best friends teach us how to be better people, and to do that they sometimes have to leave you to do it yourself. T. taught me a great deal--much of which, I imagine, will take me years to fully understand. That's the gift of friendship. It changes, even after the friendship ends. I don't need to speak to T. again to keep the memory fo her--both good and bad--in a special place in my heart.

I like to think she's out there, happy, remembering me in the same bittersweet way.


MEGAN CRANE

For a long time, any memory involving these friends felt tainted...that I should banish them from my mind and forget that they had ever happened...but now, I don't believe memories can ever be "tainted".

As long as you were smiling when they were happening, there's no reason you shouldn't smile when you remember them...

And, just like Megan Crane, I know that it is possible that one day, as suddenly as the friendship had ended, we could reconnect and be friends again...but I know there's a better chance that we won't...and that's okay, too.

Diana Rissetto