Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot, and Never Brought to Mind?

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Now, more than ever, those friendships of mine seem much more precious.

I know that we can promise to write, send emails, pay visits, arrange meetups for when I come home, but deep down inside I wonder how many faces will really stay with me. How many people have the time to reply to an email straight away? Who wants to chat on Skype for an hour when they’d much rather catch up on episodes of The IT Crowd after a long day at work? Do I really expect them to rearrange their lives for me when I come back to their homeland for a meagre week or two?

Nowadays my job is to soak up as much as I can from every one of them so that the beauty in their hearts stays with me as I ramble on with my excursions to faraway lands.

Good things come in threes.

Yesterday N and I spoke for the first time in months. Realising that whatever trivial occurence that had contributed to the demise of our friendship earlier in the year no longer seemed important, we put our differences aside and apologised. He was the bigger man and came forward first. I, usually the stubborn one, forgave and also offered my atonement. Life’s too short to waste your energy on quarrels.

I feel closer to A again, too. The distance that was growing between us had somehow soured our friendship, threatening to turn the blossom into weeds. She’s the living poet in my world. The bohème I look up to as though she were a figure from sixty years ago that I could only dream of knowing. But I do know her. And I love her. And I realise that having her in my heart is what I need to feel inspired.

And then there’s him. The best friend. The former love of my life.

Yesterday was the day we’d meet up and spend time together, one-on-one, for the first time in nearly a year. All previous attempts had left bitter tastes in our mouth with conversations leading to questions of what happened between us? and the inevitable flow of tears and tantrums. We’d finally succumbed to our technology-based relationship, using computers and phones to stand in the way of any physical contact and upset that might occur.

But we wanted to end that. We needed to see each other.

My nerves got the better of me on the train ride over as I picked the lavender varnish from my nails, stared at an empty page in my book without blinking, sighed over the curls in my hair that I’d taken so long to fix and were now long blown away by the gales outside. I still had no idea how to feel about him.

Our first activities of the afternoon saw us join a group of his work friends, trekking half way across the city and up a million mountains to contribute towards their art project.

It was dark when we came down that hill again. And, finally, we were alone.

The Thursday night partygoers began to pour out into the city, clad in nothing more than underwear and fake tan, ready to drink away their sorrows and find a tongue to suck on in the dark corner of a nightclub.

I had a headache.

He offered to take me to his house where we could eat, rest and get out of the cold. I was unsure. It wasn’t the thought of his house that scared me. Nor was it the thought of facing his family after what I’d done to their son. It was the idea of being alone with him. I wasn’t comfortable because I still didn’t know how to feel.

Nevertheless I found myself joining him in the back of a taxi, staring out of the window to keep my tears hidden.

But he saw me tremble and rested his hand on mine and I knew then that all I had to do was say the word and we’d turn around.

But I remained silent and followed him to his house where we were greeted by his sleepy-eyed family with open arms, feasted on whatever leftovers we could find in the fridge and poured ourselves a glass of Disaronno each.

And then we talked.

We talked about our recent relationships. We talked about our jobs.

We talked about poets and musicians and films.

We talked about politics and elections and the economy.

We talked about history and faraway countries.

We talked about religion and controversy and revolutions happening around the world.

We talked about our families.

We talked about us.

And before we knew it, it was 4.40am and the sky was no longer black.

We crawled into bed, me clad in his oversized Rolling Stones shorts and Greenday top that hung on me like a sack, and spooned until we fell asleep.

In the afternoon, he walked me to my bus stop and gave me just one soft and tender kiss.

A kiss that sealed our friendship and put away any confusion lurking in the back of our minds. A kiss that waved goodbye to the lovers we were back then and opened the door for who we are now.

I’ll always love him and have him in my heart. I’ll always protect him and he’ll always be my pillar of strength.

He’s the one who urges me to go forth and find myself in those distant lands. He’s the one who stimulates me intellectually more than anyone else I’ve ever met.

He’s my best friend and always will be.

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7 thoughts on “Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot, and Never Brought to Mind?

  1. I made a very similar experience when I was nineteen. I think we need to have that failed relationship and the time apart to realise that the other person is the best friend we will ever have. And yes, it’s true, that friendship is the one that will prevail and turn into a love that is, strangely, so much stronger than anything else out there including the love once felt in the relationship.

    As for keeping friendships alive when you’re far away — I left all my friends behind when I moved to the UK five years ago, and yes, some friendships died, they ended quietly, the lives just grew too far apart because new people and new friends came in, new places and new experiences. Thanks to Facebook you can pretend that it never happened, that you still know the other person because sometimes you comment on their status updates or look at their photos, but that is a mere illusion. Maybe that is sad, but not all friendships die. Some stay as strong as ever, some become even stronger. My friends and I have all travelled thousands of miles and crossed oceans to meet up for a few days or a week — that’s not much, but if all you have is so little time, you live more intensively than you ever do in your normal life. I have had weekends that are filled with a lifetime of memories, and that is an extraordinary feeling which will get you through the hard times of being apart.

    It’ll be a hard lesson to learn and there’ll probably be many tears. But it’s a great lesson to learn and you’ll come out stronger and happier, because you’ll have done all those travels for yourself. And there is nothing quite like pursuing your dreams. Those friends that can see and respect that will be waiting for you. And they’ll be the only kind who deserve to have you in their life.

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    • Thank you for the comment, my lovely. It really did bring a tear or two to my eyes. I’m so glad you’re coming back to Cardiff and I get to see you before I go. 🙂

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  2. A really honest post about something not a lot of people talk about. It is hard to maintain friendships when there is distance. But it is always possible if we try. And we should always try. Not with every friend we’ve ever had but with the ones that seem to know us better than we know ourselves. Looks like you are doing just that.

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    • Thank you for that comment, hun. I’m definitely glad I’m thinking of these things before I leave. I wouldn’t want to think that I’m setting myself up for disappointment with the people i’m leaving.

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  3. I know its hard to make time for friends sometimes. With all the hustle and bustle of daily life, theres not enough hours in the day.
    ‘A kiss that waved goodbye to the lovers we were back then and opened the door for who we are now.'<-awwwwww….

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    • It’s hard to make friends when you only live on the other side of town. I’ve come to the reality that if I’m on the other side of the world, there’s going to be greater distance and it’s something I have to face.

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  4. Pingback: I Guess I Do Want to Wander After All « Not in the Pink

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