In 1987 I met a girl who would be, for many years, my best friend. Like all teen relationships, it could be emotional and rocky. Eventually we grew apart, as people do. Back then, though, even after graduation, I still subscribed to the idea that friends are always friends – not in the sense that you remain active in each other’s lives. No, I felt that the love and care that one felt for one’s friends in youth was particularly important – the intensity of the way we feel about everything when we are young almost demands that the love is residual. Again, it need not be active. This friend and I fell out of touch, even though I did try to stay in contact foolishly. All I wanted all along was to let her know that I loved her unconditionally. I learned after silence set in, after I’d heard some unpleasant tales about things happening in her life, after she had changed her address and my letters were returned to me unopened that she had some fear or perception that I judged her, that I thought she was a “fuck up”.
I have written about all of this before – extensively. For ten years after the silence started, I tried to let go but never really had closure, so she haunted my dreams for years. I occasionally attempted to find out only that she was okay (by writing to her parents, who never replied).
In the last ten years or so, she and it faded away. Life marches on, and I did finally let go. She has no digital or online presence, which does not much matter to me except that virtually all the people with whom we went to school have come online, found me and want to know how she is doing. They assume because we were so close in youth that I might be the only person to know how she is. Little do they know, they have a better chance of running into her and finding out something about her than I do.
All of this is immaterial because it has nothing to do with my current life. Except for whatever reason, I happened to look at her mother’s Facebook page recently – which did not exist many years ago when I last thought of her. I had a look at her page and the pictures there (one of which is a two-year-old picture of my friend; seeing the picture nearly took my breath away somehow – to see this person who had been so central to my existence 20+ years ago but who simply does not exist to me for all intents and purposes. It affected me in ways that no other “absence” of that kind has).
I never assumed that there was any negativity or bad blood between her family and me. I took a chance and sent her mother a Facebook friend request. She apparently rejected it in less than 24 hours. Even though it has been nearly 20 years since I saw or talked to her family or her, I suppose the passive rejection still hurt the 13-year-old me but also definitively shut the door on the idea of resolution or closure… or most importantly, just knowing that my former friend is okay (I suppose the picture her mother posted is the closest I will get). It could be selfish that I am so concerned about knowing. I am sure my friend has her own personal and perfectly legitimate reasons for leaving the past completely behind, and I respect that – now more than ever. At the same time, I wish I could tell her – or that she just knew – how dear she was to me, how much I loved her, how much potential and intelligence and “vision” I saw in her. Hopefully the life she leads is guided by love, potential, intelligence and vision that are inherently hers.