Today is the birthday of an old friend. I am drinking a glass of wine to her health.
Before you get too excited, I need to qualify: by "old" I mean: historical, in the past, not currently.
We broke up up. It was bitter, it was worse than any boyfriend break up I have ever experienced. It took a long time for me to not hate her. It took a long time for me to get where I was a few months ago: not really thinking of her much at all, considering that we spent our teens and most of our twenties in almost constant contact, spending several days a week together when we lived in the same place. Things remind me of her. Cars. Food. She crosses my mind but I have gotten to the place where I can greet my memories of her as old friends.
Our friendship was contentious since its start. I am emotional. As she would say: "One of us is a Gemini [her] and one of us is a Cancer [me.]" As though this explains everything. And maybe it does. I would always allow us to return to our happy place as though nothing had happened. No explanations, no apologies, just pick it up and move on. It's what friends do.
And then something happened. Something minor for which I was made to apologize profusely in order to get us back to our happy place. It was the beginning of the end.
Then another thing happened and this time it was her turn to apologize. None came and yet she expected that the presence of our mutual friends (of which there are plenty) would be enough to re-forge our broken friendship.
I suspect that the existence of those other friends was enough for me to realize that I did not have a desire to be in a friendship that was (as I now saw) completely one sided. And the longer we spent apart, the more time I spent analyzing and trying to decide if it was HER I missed or the IDEA of her...the more I realized that what I missed was her at 15, at 19, at 22. I do not miss the 27 year old she was when we split irrevocably.
I actually, honestly believe that if we lived in a pre-internet age, we would have drifted apart at college. She went out of state and I worked my way through school at home. We made new friends and developed new interests. We grew apart but we made huge effort to stay in touch.
And then it ended so badly. I am sorry for how badly it ended. I am sorry that what I needed to be able to mend our friendship was not something she was able to give me. I'm sorry that I felt the need to launch grenades at our bridge as I pushed her to acknowledge her mistake, and to suck up her pride and tell me that she missed *me.* I was ungraceful and - in retrospect - almost desperate. It wasn't a need to be right. It was a need for her to finally, finally step up and tell me that I was wrong - our relationship wasn't one sided. That she needed me as much as I needed her. But it never happened.
A mutual friend told me that she refers to me as "The Infamous One." I rather like that. Infamous, like train robbers and revolutionaries. Infamous like the people who are unafraid. It's a sign of respect, that she calls me that. She feels I am brave.
At any rate - this long, rambly, wine-induced blog is to say this: A long time ago, we used to be friends....if ever again, a greeting I send to you, short and sweet to your soul I intend.
Our friendship was a moment, but it was an important one. It passed, like all things, but it left its mark. I am who I am because of you. I am someone I like, because you spent the better part of two decades in my life.
We may be strangers now. We may have no interest in having a friendship, but that does not mean what we had is nothing. She was an important person. I crossed state lines for her.
Today she is one year older. I drink to her health, to the health of her family, and tonight before bed I will meditate loving kindness to her. (It is, after all, what healed the wound that was her-shaped to begin with.)
Happy Birthday to you.