The first couple of times I lost a friendship, the pain was sharp and shocking and dramatic. But now I’m used to it. I understand that it’s part of the flow of life. It’s like clothes. If you don’t clear out the stuff you never wear, you won’t have room for anything new.
Last night I saw a recently lost friend across the street. I could have ignored her. If it were 20 years ago, I’d have looked the other way and walked on quickly. But I’m older now. I said hi and stopped. She said hi and stopped. Neither of us crossed the street to the other’s corner, but we chatted briefly, in the bantering tones we used when we hung out all the time and knew each other’s every life goal, hair goal, and dentist appointment. I thought about crossing the street, but I’ve learned that talking in a friendly tone doesn’t necessarily mean you want anything to do with a person.
So we exchanged a few pleasantries across the quiet street and then passed on, each in our own direction. I felt a pang of regret for all the wonderful times and talks and experiences we’d had, but that regret has itself become sort of an old friend. It still confuses my heart, but in a familiar way. I kept walking.
At home I changed and went over to a new friend’s house to watch Gasland. I ate popcorn and learned about the horrible things natural gas mining can do to ground water and air quality, and why it hasn’t been sufficiently regulated, and how it seems to have resulted in unsafe drinking water and lethal rivers. I saw dead fish and dead rabbits and dead birds, and people wearing respirators and mourning the loss of their farmland and lighting water from their kitchen faucets on fire. I was thoroughly depressed but grateful that I’d made a friend who cares enough about this stuff to host a screening when the Sierra Club asks her to.
When we left, we filled out a sign-in sheet with our name and email, and whether you want more information about the issues discussed in the film, and whether you want to host your own Gasland screening. They ask you to put either YES or NO in the blanks. In the more information blank I wrote YES. In the screening one I wrote MAYBE.
Are you talking about me? Because I was never that up on your hair goals, to tell you the truth…
But you were always there for my teeth cleanings.
That’s a strange situation to be in. The few times this has happened to me I’ve expended a great deal of energy avoiding any contact. I’m not mean enough to be overtly rude to someone I used to be friends with. But in the few cases where a friendship has ended, I’m also loathe to have a pleasant conversation with the estranged party. I blame this, actually, for my developing an aversion to answering our home phone when it rings. I wasn’t sure what to say to them if they called, so I just stopped answering the phone. Thank god for cell phones and caller ID.
Love love love love love love love … Love your writing. Love you, friend. Hopefully, an always-friend! xoxoxo
Instead of exchanging pleasantries do you ever have the urge to blurt out “You, You’re Dead to Me”
Wow, I wonder if that’s why I also hate answering the phone.
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