When It's Time to Let a Friend Go
I recently saw a series of photos on Facebook of friends from college who had gathered together in San Diego for a few days of fun. They were the usual types of images – laughing at a bar, standing in front of the ocean – you know the drill. It was fun to see the photos until I realized something was missing.
I wasn’t there.
Now, some of these women weren’t my close friends back in the day, but most of them were – in fact, some of them were among my closest friends. And we’ve seen each other over the years, every so often, and it’s always been fun. So I was, I think, justified for feeling a little bit left out by not being invited to the festivities. After all, I live only about an hour and a half from San Diego which, as a matter of fact, is where we all went to college.
But then I started thinking about it, and I realized that as much as some of those women had meant to me all those years ago, the shared dorm rooms, the disgusting apartment I lived in with one of them for a year with two kind-of-nutso roommates, the countless hours we all spent together drinking beer and eating chips and salsa – despite all of that, and despite the fact that my roommate was in both of my weddings, and despite the fact that I loved these friends fiercely for helping me through difficult days when my first marriage ended – despite all of that, the truth is, they aren’t really my friends anymore.
And though that was hard to say, and harder still to write down, I feel better now.
I will always keep those girls, those young, fresh, beautiful girls that we were, in a pocket of my memories. College was made a million times better because those girls – so different from me, so utterly Southern Californian and yet so welcoming of my New York-ish different-ness. They showed me how to “be” in San Diego, a place where I felt like an alien sometimes – though I realize now that nearly everyone feels like that at some time or another during college. And though I was never exactly one of them, really, it was enough.
I would never have made it through the four years of college without the girls in the pictures on Facebook.
The ones I’m not in.
How do you know when a friendship ends? Especially with the eternally open window that is Facebook? Seeing those images made me realize that those women, once my nearest and dearest, are no longer part of my life.
The truth is, you can’t keep everyone in your world forever. Making room for new relationships means that older relationships inevitably diminish. When did we stop talking, my former roommate and I, when did it go from daily to weekly to yearly? When she moved 5 hours north? When I had my first baby? I can’t remember.
But what I do remember and will always remember is the lightness she brought to my life – how she took me and pulled me into her world of blonde and beautiful and fun. I’ll remember riding the elevators up and down in the dorm, peeking in other people’s rooms, stoned out of our minds, laughing hysterically. I’ll remember the lovesick boy who was at her mercy banging on our apartment door at 2 a.m., begging her to see him. I’ll remember riding a train for 24 hours to Mazatlan, Mexico for spring break and being covered in dust surely comprised of cow shit and desert sand, but still laughing. I’ll remember both of us, bewildered by the men we were to marry – I unable to admit my mistake until after my first wedding, she wise enough to learn from my errors.
If we’re no longer friends, it’s not because of any anger or disagreement. It’s just what time does to us all – it passes through us in a rush, taking with it things we love and never thought we’d let go. But we do, we let go, because to hold on is to not grab what’s next. So we let go.
Sharon Greenthal emptyhousefullmind.com