Lunaya Pravda

28 July 2007

Out of the comfort zone--reconnecting with an old friend

Warning: naval-gazing found below...

I did an incredibly terrifying thing tonight. From time to time, I jump on IRC to keep in touch with friends I don't normally email. Tonight, to my surprise, my old friend B. happened to drive through the channel I was in.

With trepidation, I debated with myself the merits of saying anything to him. Three years ago, we didn't end our friendship on a particularly pleasant note, partly because we were truly fed up with each other, and partly because of pressures and stresses coming from outside our friendship. Neither of us was in a good place in our lives, and rather than talking about it or working through it, instead we took our frustrations out on each other in cold, subtle, nasty ways. Because our friendship had been so close, almost like siblings living on opposite sides of the continent, I was hesitant to put myself out there or set myself up for any kind of sting that might dredge up old wounds. There was so much at stake, I thought, why should I put myself at risk?

But, as if my fingers made the decision for me, I had typed out a message to him. It took me a good 10 or 15 minutes to actually screw up enough courage to send it, but the next thing I knew, we were chatting.

It was strained at first. One word answers. Then the inevitable distracting small talk about family and such, all to avoid the pink elephant in the room we knew we'd inevitably have to face. Then we eased into it. The bad history, the miserable last few months clinging to some scraps of friendship. Slowly we laid out all the cards we'd been holding for so long. In as much honesty as we could muster, we talked about it all. I can't speak for B., but it was a catharsis for me. I'd always felt blindsided by the deterioration of our friendship, like watching a fruit I thought I had been dutifully watering wither on the vine. Over the past three years, every so often, I'd give the matter some thought and still had little idea what exactly went wrong. From our final conversations long ago, I gleaned enough to realize it wasn't all about me, but how much of it was me? Tonight, I got honest answers to those questions that had been nagging me.

We both were to blame. We were both driving each other mad and behaving badly towards each other. We both saw the vestiges of friendship crumbling around us, and neither of us had anything left to spend on salvage. Back then, B. was cold and surly. Until tonight, I'd never acknowledged or given much thought to just how angry and confrontational I had been. I'd been watering our friendship with poison. He'd been killing it with an early frost.

After we carefully laid out all the ugliness between us, we talked like there were never three years separating conversations. I never realized precisely how much I missed my talks with B.--his quick wit, his biting sarcasm, and his keen memory. We talked as effortlessly as we ever had, perhaps because neither of us held anything back. The air between us was going to be pristine, dammit, even if it meant talking for five and a half hours.

And now, I'm sitting here with an overabundance of emotions swirling around my head like canaries. I can finally stop mourning the loss of a friendship very dear to me, which brings me peace. I look at those three lost years, and feel sadness at such wasted time. In truth, it is clear that three years separation brought positive changes in both of us, the most significant of which is the perspective and sanity we probably wouldn't have gained were our energies still hopelessly mired in unintentionally dumping on one another. Lately, we'd both been wondering about each other, and that leaves me with optimism that we aren't going to let another three years pass us by without so much as a hello.

But most importantly, I feel nothing but gratitude for whatever part of me mustered the strength to hit that one little key and reach out to him. I didn't let my fear of losing his friendship all over again conquer me. That little victory over my own cowardice, and the rewards it brought tonight, are priceless.