It’s probably a bit strange to write a letter to you now.
A few years have passed, and I could probably still call you and chat for hours. I can’t though.
You remember how we met—a crowded classroom at the university. We bonded over our previous professions, our love of rom-coms, making jokes at the expense of other people who were just too pretentious for us. We spent hours at your house, studying or having cups of tea and discussing how we would change the world (or at least a small chunk of it) when we finish our degrees.
Things changed pretty quickly, but we still hung in there.
You changed majors, then I changed to a different campus, and then I moved further away from you. Physically, yes, but we were still together all of the time, having tea and chatting about everything and everything. I started a relationship based on your recommendation. I saw red flags, you told me to ignore them.
“Don’t lose a good thing,” you said. “Give him another chance.”
It was bad advice, and the relationship ended bitterly, resulting in financial loss and heartbreak. I never blamed you then, although now I feel that I should not have listened to you at all. Why couldn’t I trust my own judgement? Why did your opinion matter more than my own?
One of the reasons why I can’t just pick up the phone and call you is because I know you will be unkind, even if it is unintentional. You’ll say, “No offense. I knew that this wouldn’t work out for you,” whether it is about my career choices or my relationships. You’ll give me advice based on your own spiritual practices, to which I have never subscribed.
At the core of everything, one of the reasons our friendship worked was because we both lean into the melancholy.
We are feminists; we denounced the patriarchy before we even knew what it was. Even so, we judged other people—for being too religious, or pious, or not pious enough, or too enthusiastic, or too lazy. You are a few years older than me and I have always looked up to you. I used to think if you didn’t appreciate someone or something they had done, it was fine for me to do the same. Your influence made me meaner, harder, sometimes unwilling to see the good in someone.
After we finished university and moved into our careers, we followed each other into the field, different locations but the same type of job. We would b*tch and moan at times, you would constantly be warning me that people were out to get me. You believed I’d been blacklisted for jobs and would spend ages offering me advice I never asked for. None of this was proven to be true, and I moved within the profession through different jobs. I encountered less problems than you, possibly because I didn’t look for problems in the first place.
When things got bad for you, I spent at least an hour a day listening to your stories, hoping that maybe my presence over the phone would help in some way.
“I just need to debrief,” you would say, and I’d go about my day, doing jobs while listening to you on loud speaker. You were always angry at someone for reasons that I could not make sense of most of the time. “She knows what she did, and I shouldn’t have to tell her!” You said this numerous times about people, and I didn’t always know what to say.
For a long time you had considered yourself as my mentor, but now the roles seemed to reverse.
I wanted to see you happy, but it seemed to be at my own expense. I told you that I was doing my Masters in Literature, and you’d counter it with “Well, I would write a book if I had the time,” as if I had too much free time on my hands, and you were working constantly. As my postgraduate study continued, you would still make snide comments about it even though you knew I was really enjoying the program.
Things got tough in my life, but eventually I found a way back to the city where we had met. You didn’t live there at the time, but you would still stay at my house for sleepovers, just like our days at the university.
When I was pregnant, you said that you were happy not to have a room at my place after the baby was born. “I’ll just sleep on the couch,” you offered, though I had not made any offer of the sort. I knew that once I became a mother, I wouldn’t be ready for sleepovers and long nights watching rom-coms.
After the baby arrived, you were still up for long phone conversations. “I’m just so tired, and I need someone to talk to while I’m driving,” you would say.
Perhaps, I was selfish too. I was younger than you and seemed to have a few less responsibilities than you did. I was married and had a husband to lean on when times were difficult. Newborns are hard work, but they do sleep a lot. Instead of not returning your calls, I probably could have called you back while my daughter slept during the day. Instead of not offering you a sofa for the evening, I could have suggested mutual friends who would love to have you stay with them. But I was in baby-bubble mode. I could only think about motherhood and my new child.
Then one day, I hung up on you, or I thought I did. You were cutting in and out on the phone because you didn’t have phone reception on the highway. It was dinner time, and the baby was crying. And although you always asked, no, it wasn’t a good time to talk. I was so mad and said some things I shouldn’t have, and then I looked at my phone. You hadn’t hung up and neither had I.
Time went on—a week, two weeks, three weeks. Months. Years. I really had meant to call you back.
Everyone in my life knows you and asks about you. I was always the link between you and the university group of friends, and now the link is gone. For that, I truly am sorry.
I haven’t really had any answers about why we don’t talk anymore, except to say that too much time has passed. I don’t think you would have changed your number, but also, I have not changed mine. I’m searchable on Google. If you want to find me, you can. I think you just don’t want to, and that’s okay.
I really miss you. And I miss your hugs, your taste in music, our road trips, and our conversations over tea.
I wish you all the happiness, and I truly think you deserve it.
But I don’t think that we are good for one another, even if you have kept all of my secrets for all of this time.
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