"And I guess that we don't need to be falling apart, but you will always have a special place in my heart." - Smith & Thell, Forgive Me Friend
It’s probably fair to assume that a great majority of us are afraid of losing the people we’re close to. As university students, I’d say it’s also fair to assume that many of us have thought long and hard about the possibility of losing our found families from high school, specifically.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the spiel, from well-meaning upperclassmen and adults, about how those who are meant to remain by your side will stay with you, and those who aren’t will inevitably leave. But that may not be entirely true.
Friendships are relationships nonetheless, that require time and effort to make work. The only difference now is that, that allocated time has to come from us, making time and planning hang-outs, instead of it being forcibly thrust upon us by the inevitability of school-based proximity.
There’s a lot to be said about how best to maintain long-running friendships and keep them as light and chaotic as they always were, but our conversation today isn’t really about that. Instead, it’s about what happens when you’ve gone ahead and done everything in your power to stay close with certain friends, to laugh and joke and trade stories the way you always used to, long ago, only for the closeness and connection to die back down as soon as you’ve ended the call.
It’s like that, sometimes. The realization that you’ve grown up, individually for the better, but just in opposite directions. And at the end of the night, you’ll both think to yourselves, privately, that the peak of that connection is behind you, and should you force it any further, it’ll sooner shatter than fix.
So, what then? Admit to the end of an era?
Well, yes. But at the same time, no, not at all.
Here’s the thing.
There’s a bright, red rose standing propped up against the wall, on my desk, with petals made of carved soap and the case untouched, unopened. It’s been sitting there for almost five years now. Ever since one of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life gave it to me as a gift, on the 26th of September, 2016.
She and I don’t talk anymore.
And that statement makes it sound much worse than the whole situation really is, because when it comes down to it, I can still confidently say that I love her with all my heart. Not every parting is sorrowful, and not every goodbye means forgetting.
What I failed to realize when I was going through my little friendship crisis in high school was that no, we wouldn’t automatically lose touch with all our closest friends the minute we graduated, and that of the ones we do drift apart from, most of their goodbyes would eventually feel like happy departures.
I don’t talk to that friend who gifted me the rose anymore, but her old presence in my life is still starkly apparent. The way we think, the way we speak, the way we see the world, have all been influenced ever so slightly by all of the people we’ve met and fallen in love with, even as they come and go.
As a child in the mid-2000s, I grew up on the Percy Jackson series, hanging on to the words on every page in awe as I slowly found myself becoming more and more obsessed with ancient Greek mythology. But this was only because the first book had been all but forcibly shoved in my face by my dearest friend at the time, another girl I don’t keep in touch with anymore.
The anecdotes I tell to new friends I meet are all colored with the flavors and influences of the people from my past, as are the characters I write and the opinions I hold. Each and every one of those old faces has left their mark on me one way or another, so I find that I never really did wish them a true goodbye.
So the next time you find yourself pondering losses or potential goodbyes-to-be, take a look at your music library. Count the titles and ask yourself how many of those songs you love were recommendations from people you no longer talk to. Play one that particularly reminds you of someone you cared about. Sit back with a cup of tea and notice how it still never fails to make you smile.