Thirty has been a surprisingly nostalgic year for me. I’ve chased the feeling with manic panic hair dye, 2003 throwback costume parties and concerts featuring my high school favorites. Alkaline Trio even catered to my sentimentality with their Past Live tour. Hell, the revitalization of this blog is probably a desperate attempt to hold onto the days of yore despite the fact that I now get my purple hair done in a salon, I can’t squeeze into my clothes from 2003 and Slug started dressing like my dad.
The only thing I have left to check off my list to complete my year down memory lane is a midnight trip to Walmart followed by 2 a.m. breakfast at Perkins, or, if I’m lucky enough to be in Mankato, Happy Chef.
I was struggling through a particularly strong bout of nostalgia the other day as I worked my way through the Avril Lavigne/P!nk/Fergie discography. (I’m 30. I don’t have to feel shame, anymore.) I started thinking about nights out dancing with my cadre of friends...wearing size 2 jeans (curse you, failed metabolism). This led to reminiscences of those mornings after when that same cadre would slowly emerge from a hard-night’s sleep. Clear headed and ready for the next adventure. Because at 23 the concept of a hangover is completely lost on us.
I realized that very few of the people I shared these nights and mornings with are in my life anymore. Mostly because I lost connection with the tie that bound us all together. Lost connection makes it sound a little too passive. We broke up. And if I’m honest. I miss her from time to time. This article really highlighted her absence in my life.
We haven’t spoken in nearly five years. Still not the full length of our relationship. I did send her a card when I heard her dad wasn’t doing well and she responded graciously. The gesture did nothing to renew the lost friendship, but that really wasn’t what I was seeking. I simply wanted her to know that I cared. From a distance. Because from a distance was how we would work best.
We both had our faults. I was a sassy know-it-all and she could be overbearing especially when drinks were involved. It started to become pretty toxic despite all the fun we’d had over the years. Still, in my current this-is-your-life state, the good stuff has started to resurface. She had my back as I muddled my way through life from my early college years to the failed engagement to life as a single girl after years as a serial monogamist.
A few years older and wonderfully independent, she inspired me to figure out who me was. She could be thoughtful and hilarious at just the right times. She was unflinchingly faithful to her family and she brought me into the fold without a second thought, introducing me to an adulthood that wasn’t all about marriage, babies, kids, careers. It was about booty-poppin your way through heartbreak, happy hours that last til bar close, rinky-dink hometown adventures and goofing off just enough to make work tolerable without losing the Employee of the Year title.
100 lifetimes have passed over the course of five years. I’ve transitioned through several jobs, escaped bad romances forever, joined her (silently) in aunthood and a million other little things I would have celebrated with her.
I thought of her when our mutual friend got surprise married this past year. I wondered if I would run into her at the 30th birthday blowout of an ancillary friend or at the restaurant where we used to fight off our hangovers with crappy Tex-Mex. Every time I walk into J.C. Penney memories of our shenanigans flood back. My first trip to Chicago is right around the corner and I think about the one that never happened with her.
Every once in awhile a mutual Facebook connection will tag her, but I’ve know very little of her milestones given that my tie to the her closest friends was largely linked to her. I imagine she’s doing well. Maybe she jumped into the pool of homeownership. Chances are she found a steady dude, or didn’t, she’d be happy either way.
It’s a strange thing these friendship breakups. The force keeping you apart is drastically different than the one that takes over after a romantic relationship ends. You aren’t trying to save your current friends from jealous feelings. You’re allowed to have more than one friend in your life at a time. And, yet, I don’t think there is any reason for us to reconcile. There’s too much water under that bridge.
And, though I’m no longer invested in her life I do have some wishes for her. I hope she found contentment with herself. That she realizes how hilarious she is. That she understands how her friendship shapes the women who are lucky enough to know her. I hope she found a direction she can run in, so that she has nothing to regret in 20 years. And I hope she knows that I still appreciate the seven years of friendship we had, even if it ended on not-so-great terms.
I’ll likely never know if these things will happen or have happened for her. And I have to be okay with that. We were never meant to be.