Saturday, 12 January 2013

Magical Essence Of Friendship

I think when we leave someone behind in our lives, be it because of circumstances or milestones achieved, we expect them to carry on with their lives as we do with ours. We go about our daily routine not thinking of what the others are doing, and we hope, deep down, that everyone has it going for themselves. Very rarely do we pause to think about what's happening on in the lives of others. These others who were once our friends.

In fact, they still are our friends. But time, and perhaps distance may have eroded that friendship into nothing more than mere acquaintanceship. Saying that we remain friends sounds much more cordial than labelling ourselves as acquaintances, because the very word itself sounds tremendously complicated, as though we have to put in an effort to say it. Because friendship shouldn't have to be that hard.

We hope to catch up and to talk over coffee, but with schedules not permitting, we're left with that odd message left on our mobile phones. Instead of responding immediately, we ponder as to what we should talk about, until finally, we put it at the back of our heads, and then completely forget about that one message in our inbox.

Now, when we bump into each other, it's difficult to have an honest conversation right on the spot. We want to give off the illusion that we are doing extremely well. That we are young adults and that we are making our mark in the world. We often fluff up our own lives, so as to not be judged by the other party. We say we're extremely busy with school, or work, when in fact we're just too damn lazy to get out of the house.

When we do finally meet up again, it takes a second to get into the routine of things. It used to be so much easier back when we were in school, at our desks, and wearing starched-up school uniforms. We were equal. No one was ahead of the other. Not by a long shot. We talked about the same things, and our conversations, seemingly endless, ran the gamut from what to eat for lunch, to what to do after school, to who's having a crush on whom. There doesn't seem to be enough time to talk about everything, to the point that we still continue our conversations on the bus home even though we just parted ways ten minutes ago.

Stilted conversations fill up the room when we meet up for coffee. After the hellos and the hugs and the polite catch-ups, we're left with questions we're dying to ask but never dared, like 'Are you still with your boyfriend?' or 'Whatever happened to whomever?' We don't know the comfort zones of one another anymore, and we have to realise that that person sitting directly opposite to us is our friend, but that the person is not that friend whom we had lunch with in school all those years ago. That person is no longer the guy who has always been your lab partner during science lessons, or that the person is no longer that girl who cried on your shoulders when she broke up with her first real boyfriend. 

We fill each other with vague details of our lives, enough to give a semblance that we're fully functioning young adults, but not enough for the personal life to be pried open. No longer are secrets whispered in each others ears. No longer do we share that same journal. Everything in our lives now are personal, and it will remain that way.

We mostly talk about what happened back then; about the food fight that happened in the school cafeteria, or about that one time when that one girl was found crying in the toilet after being bullied. We talk about running in the rain because we didn't have umbrellas on us when we went out of school for lunch. We talk about the good old days, because they really were the good old days. We reminisce about our shared past because that's the only thread that's holding this friendship together now. Because without it, we might as well have been strangers.

When the conversations end, and we feel like it's an appropriate time to leave, we say our goodbyes, and as we head our separate ways, we heave a sigh of relief knowing that our meeting went well. We feel good because we caught up with one another, and because we managed to stay in contact. But on the train ride home, we begin to ponder as to whether we really learnt something new about this person. Our hearts sink because we realised then that the only real reason we stayed in contact was because we can never fully let go of our past. Because the past is filled with memories of who we once were, all full of hopes and dreams and innocence.

We look at our reflections in the glass and we sigh because we could no longer recapture the youth, and that magical essence of friendship.

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