A note: I may regret writing this. That possibility is imminent, and completely dependent on how this is taken from here, but often what I write here ends up being taken out of context and, really, that’s just the kind of way it is with words. I can mend and mold until my fingers fall off, but in the end, the reader is the one making the context. So, if you are reading this, the context is meant to be one of contrition. I want that to be made obvious.
I am lucky enough to have maintained a close set of friendships that lasted from youth to this stage of pre-adulthood I’m currently in. Sometimes these relationships were rocky, and I fucked up the transition of child to teen to adult more times than I want to admit, but I have been forgiven by them and we remain close today.
Toward the end of high school, we all got swept up into the drama and gossip of teenage relationships, and would tell each other that we were bound together by nothing more than proximity: small town, crowded halls and allies that had been there since grade school. Still, we held on.
With one of those girls, I would sing along to Ingrid Michaelson songs as she played the piano, cry next to her in my basement cuddled in blankets while P.S. I Love You played in the background, write notes to her of Wicked and Rent song quotes, full of doodled flowers and hearts and a bolded “FIYEROooo” for emphasis, passed whispering in a corner of Biology class. Morris would try and separate us frequently, and never succeeded in gaining more than a few minutes of reprieve.
We don’t talk anymore, not at all, and I hate it. I don’t know the exact moment that we started to resent each other, but it was thick and hard and resistant to the fake and obvious attempts we through at each other to circumvent it. It was ignored for a Very Long Time, culminating in even more hate and, this time, no contact whatsoever. It is a bad and rough absence. We are utterly at odds.
I have missed her for a long time. Even though we have our differences, and they very well may prove to be irreconcilable, I spent my childhood with her learning and loving her, and I know that she knows that part of me better than, perhaps, anyone else. While I had other friends I considered to be a part of my heart, I never felt with anyone the way I allowed myself to feel around her. Her heart is so large, worn on her sleeve with no apologies and she taught me how to open myself up to that kind of vulnerability and emotion, too. She was formative in that way, meeting me in a park in Zeeland in the seventh grade and leading me away from the rough and dark I had been drifting towards (an emo phase) to something much sweeter.
I listen to the songs we would sing together and think about what I would say if I could send a collection of them to her, something that means I’m sorry and I miss you and I wish it wasn’t this way. Matt Nathanson, Ingrid, Sara Bareilles, The Pogues, Joni Mitchell, A Fine Frenzy: the melodies of our friendship, our awakening.
And now, years later, this is mine. A small one, but one that, nonetheless, has become increasingly obvious as I fight the urge to call her whenever I am reminded of our friendship. I am reaching back to what she taught me of vulnerability and emotion and opening up here, and, if I gain the courage, someday soon to her. The old friend I know would tell me to go for it, reminding me that, “there’s only us, there’s only this, forget regret, or life is yours to miss.” I think I’m going to listen to it.