I got close to someone recently.
I'm tempted to give him a name, to carefully reconstruct every detail of our short but refreshingly gorgeous friendship, but I won't. It's unnecessary. The entire thing can be folded into a period of a few months, really, if the weeks actually mattered. And who's counting?
I, too quickly, considered him a gift. It was easy. Our rapid bonding - or what I thought was a bond, anyway - is something I crave when meeting new people, and I was…grateful. I think that's the right word. Even though I'm moving to Boston for a while near the end of the summer, and even though he lives a little far, and even though a lot of the time he confused me at best, I felt so happy. This sounds silly, but it feels difficult to meet new friends after college. Having this person sort of randomly appear in my life at a strange, transitional time when I could use all the uplifting I can get was…a gift. Yeah.
He's funny. He's got a lovely voice. He drove out to see me, took me places, asked me about my life. He invited me to events. He seemed to really listen. He was a good friend for a short period of time, fleeting and bright.
These sort of things fall apart all the time. Friends fight, grow apart. Things happen.
I'm still not sure what happened.
In the middle of a normal conversation, he chose to start ignoring me for about four days. Gave me a weak, one-sided explanation, and asked for "space" (I've never had a friend ask for space before). I gave him a week's worth. He acted as though I no longer existed, as though my upset phone calls and rising offense were completely inconsequential. I went from hearing from this kid every day to being forced to drop off the face of the earth, and apparently, for nothing that I actually did. I tried to calmly and kindly ask to talk about whatever the hell had happened.
I got angrier and angrier, more and more confused. I wrote him an e-mail/note/letter thing, explaining that I was sick of being abruptly treated like garbage, that I was tired of him not having even the heart to listen to how I was feeling, and that if he ever gave a damn about me at all, he should probably call me. He should probably stop ignoring me.
It's been four days since I wrote that. He hasn't.
I doubt he will.
I think he was leading me on. My other theory is that he had some grand sudden revelation that I'm going to be relocating soon, and getting any closer to me would be a wildly stupid choice, so he chose to cut me off the rough way. My friends think he's just a dick. I don't really know. I've tried to see it from every angle, try to play the situation out in my mind in every way possible. I've apologized for anything I can think of. I can't figure it out.
The only way to figure it out is for him to want to talk to me. To want to figure it out. And he very clearly prefers leaving me in the dark. And I can't control his decisions. I can yell and scream all I want, I can tell all the friends I want, I can make all the empty-ended phone calls I want. I can wait around for days. It won't help.
Maybe I'm reacting too quickly, too heavily, too harshly. Maybe I need to give him a month, or something along those lines. Maybe I need to calm down; maybe I just need time.
I got close to someone recently, and then he suddenly decided I wasn't worth the effort.
I'm sad. I won't lie about it.
But here's the thing: I don't have any time to give.
I don't remember when or where I met Sara. I think it was in one our choir classes. It says a lot about our friendship that it feels like I've always known her, that I can't actually pinpoint when she came into my life. She's mattered for so long, it doesn't matter when it actually started.
Something happened to us in 2011. When we talk about it now, it's, again, sort of hard to pinpoint just when it started or what it was even about. But for about a year, we went from being best friends to almost bitter strangers. Our lives changed. Our friend groups changed. We argued. We cried. We stopped talking altogether.
It felt like a breakup, slow and painful. It actually required effort to move on from.
I wrote her a few times during that period of us not speaking, in the same way that I wrote my recently gained and lost friend. The difference is, she wrote me back. It took a year, but we tried. We talked. We sat in my car for hours at a time and just tried to get back on the same page. We got there.
I had time for her.
Now, Sara sits patiently and listens while I explain to her why I'm confused about the situation I describe above. I feel like she gets it. She gets angry when I get angry, defends me when I need it, asks the same questions I do. And then she gives me the response that a lot of people have been sending my way lately.
"Move away. Start over. Move on. Learn from it."
This past spring, I was accepted to a graduate program at a small, selective Communication Arts college in Boston, Massachusetts. Completing my Master's, provided I can actually survive. will take me two years. They offered me a generous fellowship, and with a few weeks of reflection, I chose to enroll.
I'm moving to Brighton, MA, a neighborhood just outside the city, in the last week of August.
I've never lived in a big city. I've never lived outside of Michigan. I'm going to have to deal with being away from my family, all of my friends, everything I'm familiar with. I'm going to have to travel by subway on a daily basis; I won't have a car. I have to pay for almost the entire experience myself. I'm going to have to learn to navigate in a way I've never even considered.
If you know me at all, you know that doing this is probably the most horrifying thing I'll ever take on. I'm more afraid than I am excited.
So, you ask, why am I even bothering to think about a failed attempt at a friendship with a person who I barely know? It doesn't matter, right? I'm moving.
I think the reason is because I just wanted another person to call home to. To ask how I'm doing. To wonder about my new life.
The confusion brought me to this. My painful "breakup" and incredible reconiciliation with Sara has brought me to this. My impending move has brought me to this. All those words and all this reflection and all this blah, blah blah has brought me to this.
This isn't about this guy. This isn't about Sara. This is about every single friend I've ever had, every relationship I've ever pondered, and every move I've ever made.
The guy who came into my life like a rocket and left just as powerfully is in the process of teaching me a lesson. So was Sara. Every day this summer, I've been waking up and thinking about how many months, weeks, or days I have left living in Southeast Michigan, how many days I have left with the people that matter to me so deeply. For a while there, he was a part of that. I wanted to cultivate something that was barely even there, it seems like, and I spent time WAITING for someone while others were waiting for me.
The lesson is simple, really. It's something that I've had to learn year after year, something I have to repeat to myself each time it happens:
People will hurt you.
Lovers will leave you.
Friends will betray you.
Family will infuriate you.
When I move out to Boston, I want to feel that all the people I left back in my home state, a place I love more than I love myself, know how much I care about them. I want to feel strong, supported, and ready for a new chapter. I don't want to spend my time wondering about a friend who, for some reason, can't give me a phone call. I don't want to spend my time worrying about being lonely.
I want all the basic things. We all want them.
My time is running out. I'm getting closer and closer to leaving here - temporarily or not - with every single second. And with every second I don't reach out to my friends and family to tell them how much they matter to me, how much I want to see them, how much I appreciate their support, I get farther away from a meaningful relationship.
I'm leaving the door open. I'm valuing the other people in my life so, so much more. I had no idea I could have such a drastic shift in values in such a short period of time. I had no idea someone so new to me could teach me such a basic lesson, but I'm glad to be learning.
I got close to someone recently. I'm not sure what happened.
But I'm about to get close to so much more.