Brace yourselves, darlings.
This post is a wee bit personal. Probably not for everybody. Feel free to skip. But it's true that I greatly cherish what so many of you share - the personal details, the struggles - the confession that life is not so rosy as most online sources would have us believe. There is solace in this, I think.
This post is about someone I love very much.
Let's call that person B.
B and I met eons ago. We were twelve, I believe. We were inseparable. When we were fifteen, B used to drive all the way across town with only a learner's permit, in the middle of the night, and stop at the 24 hour gas station to pick up two hot chocolates. I'd sneak out of the house and we'd meet at the bottom of my driveway. And we would sit there, quietly, in the dark that only rural places have, drinking hot chocolate and just talk.
I'll save you the long version of this story. Years went by, as they do. I left that small rural place, and moved to New York City, cliché to a T. Then from New York to Boston. Boston to Providence, and finally on to San Francisco. B's life took a different path, and we've not lived in the same state for many, many years now. We've been hundreds, and eventually thousands, of miles apart since we were eighteen. But never out of touch.
B was an anchor for me in my life through most everything. The person I could tell anything to, and have. The person I could call in hysterics at all hours of the night, and have. The person who would illegally drive across 8 miles of dark country roads risking both our parents' wrath to sit with me, on asphalt, and drink shitty gas station cocoa. And talk.
My friendship with B is, without a doubt, one of the closest, most powerful relationships I have ever had. I have been trying to write a sentence that doesn't sound impossibly trite and meaningless about this but I cannot. So I will just leave it at that. If you have a friend like this, you know what I am trying and failing to say. You probably also know, as we all sadly learn eventually, that friends like this are incredibly rare. The level of comfort and compassion that equates a feeling of home in another human being is something we are blessed to experience even once in our lives.
Obviously - whether reality or fiction - I believe that B felt the same way. I have fielded my share of middle-of-the-night meltdowns via phone from far far away. But B isn't writing this, so I will try not speak for anyone but myself. I believed we were equals in our friendship. I still do.
Soon, it will be two years since I have last seen B. In the time since, B has cut off all communication with me. It was sudden, it came without warning or explanation - and it devastated me. Prior to this blacklisting, we had no fight, no fallout, no disagreement. We were in near daily communication and had mutually expressed a great excitement at seeing each other again. I've questioned my memory of this, certainly, but gchat saves these kinds of things. You know - in case you ever want to drive yourself absolutely crazy re-reading dozens and dozens of seemingly happy conversations, looking for signs of trouble, looking for what you missed. Or where you went wrong.
I won't bore you with details; I doubt that they matter. I didn't get a "Dear John" letter. I was simply met with radio silence. When I grew excessively worried, I asked mutual friends to check in. Only then did I receive a message, simply stating there was no longer a place for me in B's life. And that's been it.
Breakups are hard, ugly things. Jagged. I don't weather them well; I'd venture to say none of us really do. To say that I loved B is an understatement. I loved with my whole heart. Still do.
So I admit to you a pathetic little thing: I never really gave up. I thought, I can understand this. Navigate it. Of course in the beginning I was angry, and hurt - and self righteous, I'm sure. But I surrendered that. I thought, if B ever needs support, or help, or even just an ear - I'll be here. I won't turn my back, even though anger and dismissal would certainly be easier. I can wait this out.
So I wrote emails. Occasionally, sporadically. Sometimes pathetic, yes, certainly. But mostly just stream of consciousness. Things happen in life, and some of them made me think of my friend, and then I would write. I wrote how I was. I wrote that I missed B, and that I hoped life on the other side of this country was happy and healthy. I wrote about dreams I had, or people I met in the Whole Foods line who looked like B. I wrote about concerts I saw that I thought B would love. And sometimes I wrote about how painful radio silence is. But not always. Not even mostly. Ten emails in all, in two years time.
This weekend, my inbox finally had a response. From B's partner.
It says just about what you'd expect an email from someone's partner to say, if you were writing an unsolicited email every couple of months to that someone, who says they don't want you in their life, and who has never broken that vow of silence in two years since. I'm sure you can imagine.
It's humbling to be hated by someone far away from you. Embarrassing. I sat down immediately to write a response: I said I was sorry (I am), and that I will not write again (I won't), and that I am sorry that we never met, as I know B loves this person very much. I tried to do this with complete humility. And, always sure to rub salt in my own wounds, I inadvertently included in my response an egregious, embarrassing typo. A typo which pried itself out of my subconscious to float up into my awareness several hours later. On my way to the bathroom in the dark, no less. The kind of typo that really makes you feel like an idiot. Which doesn't matter much, I suppose, since I'm sure "idiot" might be a kinder word than what B and Partner think of me right now.
That's it, my friends. That's my long, pathetic little story. So our weekend was good - great, even - but there was this dark mark, and it stays with me like a bruise. I'm sad, but not as sad as I suppose I was when the break first began. Though I must admit this feels like finality I haven't wrapped my head around yet. Oh, Impermanence, what a difficult lesson you are.
So, my darling, my sweet friend, wherever you are. I am sorry for my lack of grace in accepting your wish. I'm sorry that I hurt you in whatever way I did, that caused this fissure. This grand canyon. I still love you very much across all this space. I always will. But I will stop bothering you about it. I'll just send it out into the world now, in quiet waves of goodwill, and hope they reach you in the subtlest of ways. I hope every happiness in life visits you, and stays a good long while.
(Kai is an angel, in so many things, but especially in this. Has been from the beginning of it all. I don't know how I could bear it without his incredible support. Sweet Universe, I don't know what I did to deserve such a partner, but I will be forever, eternally grateful. Thank you.)
All photos from our trip through Death Valley, California, 2010.