Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Best Friends

Tonight I finished reading The Myth of You and Me by Leah Stewart. It is the story of two best friends who end up not speaking for eight years. The book was really good, and it reminded me of my best friend from college. I know that I have mentioned her before, but I don't think I have really written about her.

She was the person I was closest to for four years. We went through everything together. She knew almost everything that happened to me during those four years, down to the most boring detail. I knew about all her classes and professors, her crushes, her random acquaintances. We weren't inseparable, but we were together a lot. We had so many inside jokes and stories that no one else shares or really understands.

I saw the way she treated her best friend from high school. I could tell that my friend still really loved her high school best friend, but she was not good about returning phone calls or e-mail. There were a lot of things that she kept hidden from her high school best friend because she told me she felt like the high school best friend had a certain image of her that she had to keep intact.

When I was moving out of our apartment on the last day of July after our senior year of college, my friend reminded me that she wasn't good at keeping in touch with people. "You're going to have to be the one who always calls and keeps in touch," she said. I was ok with that.

I went to law school, and she did a one-year volunteer gig on the East Coast. I called every once in a while, and she wrote me a couple of letters, and it was fine. During my second year of law school, she got harder and harder to reach. During the fall semester, I called her every week for ten weeks and left a message, and she didn't return my call until New Years Day. She called on a cell phone, and we talked for maybe five minutes before she had to go. I didn't try very hard to keep in touch after that. I called her about a week after I got engaged and left a message with the news, mostly because I felt like I should call her, not because I wanted to call her. She called to congratulate me, but I didn't answer the phone. A few months before the wedding, I tried to give her a call, but the phone number I had for her had been disconnected. I sent her a wedding invitation anyway (mostly because I had already sent her a save the date card announcing our engagement and the wedding date). She didn't send in her RSVP, although she did send me an e-mail a week or two before the wedding. The e-mail said that she wanted to come to the wedding, but she was going to the beach with some guy instead. I sent her a very bland thank you note for the gift she sent, as though I were writing to an aunt of H that I had never met instead of someone who had once meant so much to me. I am guessing that thank you note will be my last contact with her.

I think one of the reasons my friend and I fell out of touch was that my friend felt like she needed to "keep up her image" with me. The thing is that if she thinks I would judge her for changing or for making choices that aren't necessarily the same ones I would have made, then I am sorry that she thinks so little of me and my ability to be a good friend.

At this point, I don't want to get in touch with my friend again. If you change your phone number without telling me and don't come to my wedding because you feel like going to the beach, are we really even friends? But every once in a while, something will happen that will remind me of one of our stupid inside jokes, and it makes me sad that no one else understands what is funny about some guy nodding at me when we pass on the sidewalk.

20 comments:

Carol said...

Interesting title for the book, "Myth of You and Me".
You gave a sad commentary of the people that can be so close when it is convenient, then...nothing. It is perplexing but not everyone has the depth to be real, long-lasting friends. It is hard.

Maliavale said...

That books sounds interesting -- I'm adding it to my list now.

One of the wisest things my dad has said to me was, "Friendships ebb and flow." Simple, but so true.

sognatrice said...

It's obvious that none of your friend's behavior was/is actually about you or your specific friendship as she seemed to have had a pattern. I have a friend something like this, although she goes in spurts with being in touch; finally she sought professional help and was diagnosed as bipolar. Not saying that's an issue with your friend, but just to say that there are often circumstances way beyond the scope of a given friendship that affect it. Thanks for the book recommendation :)

3carnations said...

Hubby and I have both experienced this with friends. His close friend from high school, we traveled across the country to come to his wedding, but had hardly any touch after that. He called and left a message for hubby once a year during two consecutive years, but both times when hubby called back, the friend did not return the call. What was the point of calling? It has been two years since we've heard anything from him.

My matron of honor from our wedding fell out of touch last year. She lives locally, but we often would go a month or so without talking. The last correspondence I had with her was email. She didn't happen to respond to the email, but it wasn't really a question email, so I didn't think much of that. When I sent her a Christmas card, like always, I was shocked to realize we didn't receive one back. I didn't think we had fallen that far apart. I don't know why.

Lawyerish said...

Oh, this is sad. I mean, it seems like the friendship just wasn't meant to continue, but I know that feeling of being reminded of a once-hilarious inside joke, and wanting to call someone to tell them about it but then remembering that you're not in touch anymore.

Friendships are hard sometimes.

I also read that book and loved it.

-R- said...

I know that rationally it is about her and not about me, but I can't help but take it personally. Oh well. I understand that not all friendships last forever, and I am sad about this one, but it is ok.

Anyway, the reason I am leaving a comment is to ask you to please ignore my weird typos in this post! For example, how much she "sent" to me is supposed to be how much she "meant" to me. I am a dork.

claire said...

oh, i know this story well. I have an estranged friend, too; mine just happens to be related. my cousin and i were so, so close for such a long time and now i barely talk to her anymore.
when i met my boyfriend, i think she felt like she was being replaced and stopped talking to me. at the time i thought she was being stupid, but now i miss our relationship deeply.

i think i'll check out the book...

lizgwiz said...

I have a few of those friendships that have just faded away, too. Hard to say who/what is really to blame, but it does make me sad.

Jenny said...

I have one of those too. I wonder where she is now.

I miss her. But I don't think she misses me.

stefanie said...

I have that book on my "To get at the library someday" list. I'm not sure where I heard about it originally, but glad to know it's worth the read.

As for the lost friendship, I think most of us have our share of those. It's sad, but I think it's also unavoidable at times, and best to figure that the person was in your life for a time or a reason, but that it maybe wasn't meant to last long term. You know, kind of like boyfriends. Relationships are relationships, and some simply run their course.

Stinky said...

Sounds like an interesting book...

Time seems to affect a lot of friendships that way... I think we all have a friend like that with whom we lost touch for no reason really, other than maybe neglect...

L Sass said...

I read The Myth of You and Me, and I liked it, didn't love it. However, these changing friendships really do seem to be common in female experience. My best friend from high school suddenly stopped speaking to me, and all of our other high school friends, in the middle of college. No explanation. Since then, she and I have made a few half hearted attempts to get back in contact, but she always drops the ball. I get so jealous when AS reminisces with his still-best friend about their junior high exploits. I just have no reason for why my good friendship didn't last.

Beth said...

I've always found the break-up of girl friends interesting in a sad way. There's no definitive way to do it like you would a significant other, and so it just kind of fades....unless one or both of you is confrontational and there's a blowout.

I have a friend like that (don't we all?), and the thing is that I don't really like her now. I like her then. And the sharing of the inside jokes only makes for about three good phone calls every decade. I miss who she was, but sometimes think it would be better if I only knew her that way.

jen said...

It's so weird -- I feel like some people are more comfortable with their own change than other people. Or maybe some people just change more? I don't know, but I've had friends before where when they changed, they felt like they had to change friends, which meant leaving me behind. Very sad, and very bewildering at the time.

theotherbear said...

I read that book and also thought it was pretty good.

For a positive spin on the losing of a b est friend - I lost touch with my best friend from school a couple of years after finishing school. Totally both of our faults - lazy communication, mainly.

We recently rediscovered each other after 15 years. I am happy to report we are both so much more mature and not so selfish (like 15 to 20 year olds can be!) that we are better friends than ever now.

metalia said...

I loved that book.

Some friendships definitely have an expiration date, sad as that may be. I had a very similar situation, and you described the end of that type of relationship perfectly, right down to the phantom "inside joke" thing.

Great post, R.

Kim said...

I think we all have a certain friend like that. It seems that some friendships are made to last while others are made to get you through certain times in your life.

My best friend (for 15 years) and I have had some ups and downs and almost stopped being friends a couple times when our lives were in such different places. Fortunately, we meant enough to each other that we worked things out.

I've had other good friends who I've lost contact with but I think that's life...staying close friends is a lot of work. I guess it's up to us to choose who's worth it and who's not.

Laura B. said...

I am going to have to look up this book. How sad about your friend. The end of friendships is so tough.

Jenni said...

I have a few friends like that.

My best friend from elementary school...we were best friends up until I went to college. She didn't, and I think she may have just been envious that I was moving on with my life and she was stuck in our hometown. She wrote me an email telling me that she didn't want to be my friend anymore because I had changed too much.

I've talked to her a few times over the past few years, but she never really seems to be interested in being friends again...even though everytime she sees my sister (they live in the same city) she tells her how she still considers me her best friend and misses me.

My freshman year in college I had a friend who lived in the dorm room above me. She and I were completely insperable...I mean we were practically attached at the hip. Then sophomore year she moved out of the dorm (I stayed) and she basically forgot about me...I guess I wasn't cool enough to be friends with her since I still lived in a dorm.

I have no idea what has happened to her...or if she even graduated.

Both of these lost friendships make me sad from time to time, but I have other friends who help to fill the void...although not completely.

Ooh, sorry to write a novel! I guess I can just really relate to this! :)

don't call me MA'AM said...

I know that I turned into that kind of friend for a while in my early 20s. It was not a good part of my life, even though a lot of good came from that same time.

Now I want to make up for it, but I can't find the few people I want to contact. I'm still looking, though.