PENALTY! I don’t have a good excuse for missing yesterday. I wasn’t in the mood and thought “hey, 1000 words isn’t actually a big deal. I go over 250 all the time, so naturally that’s the same.” As fate would have it, I’m not really in the mood today either and 1000 words seems endless to me.
PROMPT: Some relationships aren’t simple enough to be classified as painful or joyous. Writing about a complex relationship is… well, complex. Give it a shot.
I remember when it was simple. Every time I see you I think about it. When we were kids it was like the easiest thing in the world. We would spend every day off together. We would play games in your backyard or watch movies that we weren’t old enough to comprehend. I would be embarrassed to ask what things meant, but you usually told me anyway.
When we got older you had more guy friends. There were things you didn’t tell me about what they said. You were probably embarrassed. I was too curious to worry about how I would feel if I actually knew what the boys were saying about me. You never said, but all these years later I can guess. It was a little more complicated, but I could always count on you. Even in middle school, when we didn’t talk much because I was younger.
We were closest, ironically, when I was away. We scheduled times to talk to accommodate the time difference. I don’t think I’d ever spoken to you on the phone for more than five minutes, but while I was away we spoke for hours at a time. I knew all about what was going on in your life. You would let me rant about inconsiderate roommates and say something fair and level headed.
I never wanted to be ‘that girl,’ but things really did change when you started dating someone. I’m told over and over how lucky I am that I’m friends with her too. I know it. But there were times back then when I wished she would have been jealous of our bond and our history. I tried not too be too dramatic about it, but I would imagine all of these long-winded speeches that would end up sounding weird and possessive, a little like this. You’re lucky you’re the level headed one.
Still, we had our moments. TV nights at one of our apartments, dinners out because one of our parents had bought us a gift card, sporadic moments when it happened to be just us. It wasn’t that I couldn’t share you. It was that I couldn’t lose you. And no matter how many reassurances you gave me, that was what was happening. When you confided in me, I felt like I had stolen a secret.
I almost told you my secret once. I think about that conversation a lot. We were on a couch at your girlfriend’s apartment. She was taking a nap. I don’t know if we played cards, but it seems likely. I wonder if you remember it sometimes. Maybe when you see me and think about that part of my life. You gave me the perfect opening, but I didn’t think it was fair to tell you. I didn’t think it was my secret to tell. But I was wrong. It is. And now I’m not sure that opportunity will ever come up again.
I hate making it seem depressing. Because it’s not that way most of the time. We can still talk for hours, I’m sure, given the chance. We still have the same taste in almost everything. One of our friends once pointed out that I laugh harder when I’m with you. I think that’s still true.
I have a love/hate relationship with seeing you these days. Most of the time you’re with a big group of friends and I feel left out in that circle. I’ve thrown around a hundred reasons why I don’t feel comfortable with that group of your friends, but I don’t think I’ve ever really been able to put my finger on it. It’s not that everyone is engaged or married, which is what my mom thinks. It isn’t that they’re weird. I won’t say who says that, but I bet you could guess. I think about it a lot and talk to almost everyone about it. They all have their own thoughts. I worry that it’s just that I don’t fit anymore.
We still see each other a fair amount. Once every month or so. Not nearly as much as we used to, but we live in different places now. We’ve talked about reinstating a phone schedule. We’ve talked about meeting for dinner. The truth is that when I spend time with you lately I feel like we’re just catching up on small talk and major bullet points. We can spend hours reminiscing about the past, but I wonder if we’ll still be talking about high school in five years. Or are we forming new memories and I’m missing it?
I don’t remember how many breakdowns I’ve had in front of you. I can’t say for sure how many times I’ve made you promise that we’d stay friends forever. What kills me is that I’m blaming the stage of life you’re in, but I’m the one who is putting in a distance. Neither of us was ever very good at making plans. I used to never say no to you when you asked if I wanted to do something. Lately all I want to do is say no. No to the ‘whole gang.’ No to taking a day trip into your new life. I’d prefer if you could take the train back into mine for an afternoon.
Is that selfish? Maybe. But I’ve been towing along behind you for several years now. Saying no was just cutting the rope so that I could have both feet on the path I was already on. I like my path. It feels right. Focusing on working. Not worrying about whether my soul mate is waiting right around the corner. Not listening to people say that they want me to find the same happiness they found. It’s too much for me to handle.
You’ve never been guilty of that. Level headed. Low pressure. Judgment free. And the more ‘together’ your life has gotten the more of a nut basket I feel like. That’s part of it too I think. I don’t think of myself as overdramatic until I try to analyze our relationship and I hate that side of myself. It feels stupid and one-sided. Friendships come and go. I feel like I’ve learned that by now. But we said we’d never do that.