Making friends as you reach the old and decrepit age of 30 becomes increasingly difficult. Partly because life is busy and other things take priority. Partly because you aren’t thrown together with new people as much as you once were. And partly because, as you get older, you get wise enough to know that everyone is terrible.
When you do meet that magical unicorn of a person you can call a friend past the age of 25, it can be pretty exciting. You get butterflies. Spend every spare moment together. Experience waves of twitterpation every time you discover a new shared interest.
This essentially sums up the first six months of a friendship I shared with Cookie.
We met while we were both in dysfunctional relationships with a pair of guys who had grown up thick as thieves. Hers was a nebulous long-distance thing with a guy named Ty. Mine was just, broken. But this isn’t about those relationships. It’s about the one I built (on apparently shaky ground) with Cookie.
There was an immediate connection. She was the exact opposite of the cavalcade women Ty had rotated through on previous double date occasions. She was smart, eschewing a traditional career path to start her own business right out of college. She was funny, sweet, and charming. An odd inspiration in a strange world full of people I couldn’t respect, let alone admire.
It was serendipitous. We were destined to be kindred spirits. We had grown up in the same corner of the world, her roots wrapped around the town where I spent four years of college and three years of my career. Though her family of origin was slightly different from mine, we had the same faith-based upbringing and shared very similar, albeit, borderline unhealthy connections to the people who raised us.
I felt immediately comfortable around her family when she brought me home to meet them over the course of the Fourth of July festivities one summer. My family knew everything about her and were excited that I had found such a strong connection with someone. We were in love, dammit.
The true test of our friendship came when my dysfunctional relationship went down in hellfire. I had worried we’d drift apart without the convenient weekly double dates. But, it didn’t seem to be the case. Cookie was incredibly supportive as I struggled through what was unquestionably the most difficult breakup of my life. As her relationship with Ty fizzled into the abyss it became apparent that our connection had nothing to do with the men in our lives, and I was excited to find that she just might be a permanent fixture in my life.
As the weeks wore on, I did my best to reciprocate the kindness she had brought to my temporarily tumultuous life. In honor of her birthday I got ridiculously dressed up for a night out in Minneapolis. (The ridiculousness was compounded as I trekked through sideways downpour to show up at her apartment looking like a drown rat.) I happily shared marketing advice as she worked to grow her business. Brought dinner and flowers over when she was feeling less than vivacious. I got to know her new beau and offered a sympathetic ear as she navigated uncertain territory with him.
I even sat through the Victoria’s Secret fashion show with her. An event I find to be more ridiculous than wearing a Vegas-level dress in a Minneapolis downpour.
All this to say I was a damn good girlfriend. And yet that Victoria’s Secret fashion show night was the last we’d spend together. A few weeks later, she stopped by my apartment briefly to borrow a dress. After that, we texted once in awhile, but I could never pin her down for a date night. Then her responses to my texts waned until I found myself questioning what I had done to drive her away.
When I got engaged, I reached out to her again in hopes that my happy news and her expertise around the industrial wedding complex would rekindle something. She sent a series of ecstatic congratulations and then nothing. For months. Nothing. In one last feeble attempt, I invited her to the wedding, but never heard a peep.
Now, all that’s left of our whirlwind friendship is a handful of snapshots and her presence in my Facebook newsfeed. I’ve lost friends before, but it always made sense to me in one way or another. This loss seemed entirely nonsensical. She just faded away. And, if I’m honest, This particular disappearing act hurt. More so than any similar act performed by various men who have passed through my life. I’d even say I’m angry.
I understand that life can make it as difficult to maintain friendships as it is to form them, but one of the things I loved about Cookie was how she worked to nurture friendships she had established in high school and college. Perhaps she decided this relatively unripened friendship wasn’t worth the energy when she had so many others to foster.
Still, despite our early days of weekly hangouts, I’m a fairly low maintenance friend. Coffee or dinner once every few months and you’re fit to be the godmother of my unborn child. I’ll never know her reasons for pulling away. I’m sure, to her, it feels like a perfectly natural, run-of-the-mill faded friendship, so I just have to get the hell over it.
Not everyone needs to love me as much as I loved them. I have plenty of other ladies in my life to tell me I’m special and take my side in a bar fight (or, these days, in an antique bartering-type situation). And I don’t always devote the time I should to those friendships, so culling down by roster by one is really a blessing. *sniff sniff* I swear. Maybe, one day, I’ll run into her. I’ll look amazing, naturally. Laughing effortlessly with my amazing new best friend. We’ll exchange awkward glances. And, when her new companion steals away to the ladies’ room I can finally ask why she pulled the fadeaway.