How do you survive the death of a friendship? I’m not being rhetorical, it’s a real question. It’s a tricky one too because this is a living, breathing thing—this friendship. The person has not had a sudden heart attack or been hit by an oncoming bus. No, this person still exists. Not only in my mind, but in flesh and blood; is a real walking-talking-breathing person who grocery shops and curses (in Spanish) when she stubs her big toe. This person is no figment of my imagination.
And that’s too bad really. In a way, you know it would be easier (not that I wish her ill-will because that’s just non-sense reserved for the ID channel, for which I have been watching far too much of lately). If it were just some hallucination though, I could probably mold her into who I want her to be (though truth be told, she was damn close already), make her say what I long to hear and the demise of our friendship would not be of issue at all.
Ah, for life to be that simple. Maybe it is true what they say: ignorance is bliss. If this is so, I should simply let go, stop fighting with all my might and let myself wake up in a place called Bellevue where tranquilizers are given like candy, in an attempt to restore balance to a population who are known as ‘guests’. Of course, I will not allow it to be that easy, this thing called life. This thing called pain. Anguish. There are a number of names for it, but they all call for the same thing: Endurance. I must endure.
My friendship, the friendship, OUR friendship, because it was a two-way street, and even she can’t deny that—began fifteen years ago, when we were both other people. That’s a lifetime ago, fifteen years, as it should be if you are on the path to evolving and living the productive life we are all taught to covet. It was at work—where many a relationship begin—that we met briefly one day and her sunny disposition struck my pessimistic demeanor with a thunderbolt. It penetrated my tough exterior (the one that we all knew I was wearing because I had been hurt in a previous life; that coat that we all pick up and put on in an attempt to avoid such hurt) and made me laugh and think and examine life’s ways. It was fast and furious, this friendship, most likely due to in-your-face circumstances that we encountered. Among hers: a miscarriage and a separation from a domineering husband whose attempt to control her like a puppet on a string only filled her with strength in the end. But I was there before any of that. Before she had the self-knowledge to know your worth is not dictated by how short your skirt is or how-low-can-you-go knit tops. She, of course, was the mainstay for my entrance into true adulthood. An example of how to be responsible and accountable. To this day, I am still following in her footsteps, trying to buy an apartment, trying to save for retirement, trying to be the adult I never feel that I can be.
She was the practical to my whimsical, the steady to my wobbly legs that had never felt the ground beneath them for any significant amount of time. My large family (though small in my acceptance of them) became hers and her big dysfunctional family mine.
We shared many things, most of which individual to each our person. I like roller coasters, black olives, and Persian cats (those I will admit, I am probably obsessed with—at least two in particular) while she can get nauseous in a car (and forget about a plane—outright distraught), counts olives (black or green) as one of five hated foods, and though she enjoys the look of a Persian, it needs to be at a distance, as their fur can send a blow to her already compromised lungs, leading her into asthma mode (something for which she never had before meeting me or my furry twosome).
But all these differences, these contrasting views did not come between our relationship. To the contrary, they seem to define it. And strengthen it. In fact, we always were coming to the same conclusion about ourselves: that we were complete opposites. In EVERY way it seemed. She has dark, curly hair; me, wavy blonde hair. She has a larger-than-most bosom with no hips or butt to speak of, while I have a smaller-than-most bosom with large hips and a butt. She has four siblings, I have none. She is a thinker, a ponderer with a slow, deliberate way about her. I can decide to move to Tahiti in an afternoon and be packed up by next day’s end (okay, maybe that’s a little hyperbolic, but you get the idea).
The traits that matter, the ones who make us who we are (and as much as I like black olives—consuming them doesn’t make me a better or worse human being) is where our likeness’ lie. We are both intelligent, albeit on different aisles of the spectrum (her smarts are more traditional and analytical while mine are creative and can fall a little outside the box); we both are moral individuals who care about other people and believe in a higher power (she again is more traditional—a struggling Catholic—I see all Catholics as struggling because I see that dogma—any religious dogma really—as unobtainable; me, someone who prays, who believes, but follows my own code of right and wrong); we both have a sense of humor and love to laugh—and isn’t laughter really the best medicine of all; and finally we are both human. We fuck up. We make mistakes—BIG, gigantic mistakes and we forgive and we forget and we move on. At least I hope we do.
Because truly, I’d hate to move on without my best friend.
Be sure to check out Reading Other People later this week for another guest blog from this awesome author.