So here I am.
It’s still hard to believe that it’s been twelve years since I’ve seen you, my beloved friend. Though so many things in this world have changed, in some ways, I remain the same girl you knew.
I’ve traded black nail polish and scene hair for careless buns and understated clothing, but I still prefer the rain to sunshine. My musical tastes are even more diverse than before, if you can actually believe that. I never had a chance to put together that band I always wanted, but I know you would say not to give up on the idea. You were right to tell me not to quit the guitar too; I finally learned how to play (sorta). London is more amazing than I imagined it would be, and I still love writing melancholy poems. I think you’d be happy to hear that I’m getting ready to go to grad school just like we always talked about.
My parents aren’t the monsters I thought they were way back when. And as it turns out, I’m not the monster they thought I was either (smile). I left California a few years ago and have been roaming the country looking for a place to call home ever since. Friends have come and gone. My family disintegrated like yours as well. All the same, things aren’t as gloomy for me as they once were. Would you believe that I’m one of those weirdos who walk around smiling for no reason now? And hey, get this—I’m a Christian now, like, a real one. Don’t even laugh either!
To be honest, life is just a blur to me when I look back at it. Memories of places and faces emerge from the fog of my mind only to duck back into obscurity. If I ever ran into you on the street or bumped into you in some coffee shop in a city far away from here, I wouldn’t tell you about any of it.
I’d ask you how you were, where you’d been, and what’d you’d seen. I would ask if your music career ever took off and if you ever resolved things with your father. I’d tell you how much I’ve missed you, how much I love you still. Years of regret and emptiness would vanish in an instant. We could go back to being the best of friends, and everything would be beautiful again. But who am I kidding? That is never going to happen for us, now is it?
I spent so long looking for you. Eventually, the pressing obligations of life caught up with me and I gave up. I moved. You moved. Numbers changed. Years passed. The details of your life that could have helped me to find you again have gotten all muddled up and lost in the chaos of my mind. I wish with everything within me that I could find you and tell you these things in person, but I’m not quite as naive as I was back when you knew me. It’s highly unlikely that you could find me either… I mean, if you wanted to.
Do I ever cross your mind?
I’d be lying if I said that I’ve spent all these years thinking about you. I haven’t. I couldn’t. Then, for some odd reason, you popped into my mind this summer. It was as though I had completely repressed the memory of you. All at once, for reasons I fail to comprehend, everything came rushing back to me with perfect clarity. Now it is excruciatingly understandable why I had erased you from my memory: I couldn’t forgive myself for allowing you to sacrifice yourself the way you did.
You used to say that I was smart and beautiful, that the things that were going on in my life wouldn’t stop me from doing wonderful things one day. You told me to keep being myself, no matter what other people thought, did, or said. I would always shrug and roll my eyes. Though I can’t tell you that I’ve had a change of heart regarding some these things, I can tell you that I tried my very best to. Josh, you were right about so many of the things you used to say. But as much as I adored you, you know I didn’t always agree with you.
I still don’t.
One of the last conversations I remember having with you was the closest thing to an argument we ever had. You told me that you didn’t think we should keep being friends because you were going to ruin me and eventually break my heart. You didn’t think it was fair for me to continue having feelings for you when you were so unhappy with yourself and confused. I swore up and down that my feelings for you would never change. I just wanted you to be with whoever made you happiest, so if there ever came a day when I was no longer that person, I was okay with that.
I told you that you weren’t doing me any favors in leaving because I could control myself. I said that I would never grow to want anything from you that you didn’t have the capacity to give me. In response, you said that I would find someone better than you one day, someone who wasn’t “weird” and “confused”. According to you, I’d eventually regret staying with you and that neither of us could ever cope with just being friends. You said I would come to find a man who knew what he truly wanted… that I would eventually forget all about you.
You were dead wrong.
Though it pains me more than I have the ability to articulate, I now realize that I never loved anyone after you. I used the right words and I walked the walk, but I’ve essentially lied to every man I’ve met over the last twelve years. I also see that I lied to myself as well.
Most people in this world are lucky if they experience even the most convincing imitations of love. Perhaps you’d be happy to hear that I found some pretty good counterfeits over the years, but I know the difference. I never allowed myself to fully acknowledge it, but deep down, I was always comparing them to you. It never sparkled the same and it wasn’t real, but if you didn’t look too close no one could tell. They didn’t understand me like you did, but what were the odds of finding another you?
For as much as you put yourself down and as worried as you were about “ruining” me, you are still the best part of me. For the rest of my life you will be the model of what true love is. We were always such hopeless cynics, so for the life of me, I try to believe that I may be lucky enough to find someone who will love me half as well as you did. I genuinely pray I one day do because I would hate for you to have sacrificed our friendship for nothing.
I never stopped wishing the best for you. I genuinely couldn’t live with myself if I knew you’ve gone through life despising who you are and how you feel. I hope you came to love and accept the man you grew to be because I never stopped. No matter what happens to you in this life, I want you to know that you are truly the most amazing person I ever had the pleasure of knowing. Your grace and humility was otherworldly. It would be one the greatest crimes for you to have never found the peace you were looking for.
And don’t you dare blame yourself. Doing what you did was what you knew to do. I know you didn’t want to walk away; you felt it was what you had to do. Things were very different back then; you were simply trying to protect me and my feelings. And although you were the last person I would have wanted to let go of, I never, ever blamed you for it.
I wish with all of my heart that we’d grown up now instead of then. Things could have been so different for the two of us. If nothing else, I’d still have my best friend. And that’s exactly what you were. You were my dearest friend in the entire world—the best I’ve ever had. I still love you with every fiber of my being…
And even in your absence, it’s been an absolute honor.
© C. M. 2018 All Rights Reserved
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