Along the crazy, unexpected and shambolic road that is our lives we meet people, we make friends and sometimes we lose friends. People that you were once so close to grow apart and you find the friendship is gone, or at the least it is not the bond you once had. Sometimes, unfortunately, you may lose a friend because of some sort of abrupt and bizarre drama. I’m sure it happens to us all, it certainly happened to me.
It’s actually something I don’t think about a lot, for three main reasons. Firstly, that it was a few years back now and I have moved on. But when it is brought up it still find it sad and disappointing because, secondly, the friend and I were once so close and thirdly the circumstances under which our friendship ended still baffle me and were painful to go through.
The short story of it is that we moved in together, possibly got on each others nerves a bit, had a disagreement because I wanted a friend of mine to stay over for the night and she was not happy with this even though her boyfriend regularly stayed over (which I still struggle to fully understand), my friend stayed anyway as they had no place else to go, the next day she kicked me out. Really there was more to it than that, I had been unhappy for months and already planned to move out because of the way I was being treated as a lodger and made to feel unwelcome in a home that I payed half of everything for. I had also lost a good friend (admittedly through my own actions) when I was forced to chose between them and my friend/housemate when she treated him the exact same way (though I was thankfully able to restore that friendship, which I am so grateful for). The problems that she had with me she didn’t raise until the day she kicked me out, when, had she raised them before then we might have been able to resolve. It was just all so unnecessary, so dramatic. I was an absolute monster who had destroyed her life.
The situation sucked because we had been such good friends, it was sad we couldn’t work past it and move on from it in a different way than actually happened. What I hadn’t expected is how vindictive she would be afterwards. Having been such good friends I had not expected on any level that she would return packages I was awaiting despite her knowing I was still yet to come by and pick up the last of my things; tell people that there were debt collectors looking for me at the house even though as far as I knew there were not and she would give no more information when pressed (if they existed, I’d have liked to sort it out!); and demand money for rent and bills for the month after I had moved out as I had not given notice. The last resulted in me having to get legal advise (thankfully free through where I was working at the time) – where it turned out that I owed her nothing as she had kicked me out for no legal reason and was only a co-tenant not the landlady so had no right to do so, let alone demand money for a period that I was not living there. It all resulted in a time where I was deeply deeply saddened by the fact that I had lost a good friend, and massively disappointed in her behaviour to the point where I found it hard to reconcile my opinions on her as the friend I had once known and the treatment I was now receiving.
That was in 2006. The situation itself I got over. I moved on. I was homeless but thankfully able to sofa surf with kind friends until I found a great place with some lovely people. It was closer to my job, I made new friends and life got back on track. It was a year that I was thankfully for the luck that came my way (free advice, good friends). Later in 2006 I moved back down South for family reasons, moved in with my best friend (which was so awesome), met my now Hubster and life goes on from there.
But as time moved on and the hurt from the situation subsided, I was left instead with a hole where she had been. In reality, I missed her and the things we used to do, it took me a while to convince myself that I was better off without someone in my life who could treat me the way she did. Don’t get me wrong, there are two sides to this story and I’m sure her point of view is very different, but I never felt that what happened warranted the nasty behaviour afterwards. I’m just not wired that way so I find it hard to understand when other people are.
The thing is, as much as you convince yourself that your better off, doesn’t change what you had before. Because there were still the good times. I could never forget the amazing times we had in each other’s company, and how she was really there for me when I really needed someone when I was taking my Masters. I missed her so much to begin with – I would see a poster for someone gigging that I knew she’d love to go and get half way through texting her before realising I shouldn’t, couldn’t, press send, and then it would sting with fresh hurt at the memories. I missed our talks, our adventures, our nights out, our trips to London. But all of that had started to die before the day it all came to a head.
I haven’t thought of her, mostly, in a long while. I say mostly because I had occasion to think of her last year. Two mutual friends were tagged in a photo on facebook with her back from a night out we’d all had years before. It brought back fond memories and I posted something on the photo about it being such a great night and I was sure I had some photos of the same night somewhere. I didn’t realise until later, that although the photo had popped up in my feed because my friends had been tagged, it was my ex-friend who had put the photo up. I further realised once looking through my own photos, that I did have photos of that night – in fact, that was one of the photos… but she had chopped me off the side of the photo. I actually laughed. It felt so weird to think that what had happened had driven her to, many years later, try to erase me from her life. I couldn’t help but laugh at the bizarreness (and wonder at the fact that I was going through some kind of Damnatio memoriae).
Which brings me to 2014. Aside from the occasional responses and comments I come across of hers on mutual friends social media, I have not seen her in 8 years. When we still lived in the same city and every time I went back for a visit, I wondered if I might run into her and how to react. In the beginning I think I would have tried to avoid her as a way of dealing with things by not dealing with them. As time has rolled on, life has changed, we’ve all (presumably) grown as people, and I thought that should I run into her I would know how to react… in whatever way that might be.
Over Valentine’s Day this year the Hubster and I were in London. On the journey there, for the first time in a long while, I actually thought of her. Hubster wanted to go to Camden and so my mind was flooded with memories of going there on shopping trips to Fairy Goth Mother and the markets with my once friend. What I had not expected was to get off the tube in Camden and walk straight past her. She hasn’t changed, I recognised her immediately. And I did not react at all.
It was an odd few moments. I didn’t see her at first, but then there she was walking towards me and I’m sure I saw her eyes flick away. Would she recognise me? Who knows. My first reaction was “Oh, someone I know, how odd to run into them here, I should say hi” but then my brain clicked the face to the person, and I realised who it was. By this point she was staring un-waveringly past me, had she recognised me? Was she ignoring me? We passed and nothing happened.
Later I played it over in my mind, had I noticed her sooner and had a slightly longer time to react, would I have said something? I want to think I would have said hello – “Hey X, how are you, I haven’t seen you in years!” but my experience of her makes me unsure as to how she’d react to this, possibly completely blanking me and carrying on? Who knows. And what is the point. Because in reality what I would want to say to her would be longer than the few seconds I would have had. I would told her I’m sad our friendship ended the way it did. I appreciate the friendship we did have, but it’s fine and I’m over it, but it was sad and disappointing. I hope she has also moved on from it.
Because, no matter how often I do or don’t think about her, and whether I run into her every day or never again, its all in the past now. I don’t mean I forgive her, I just mean that there is nothing there to forgive any more. She, our friendship and the way it ended no longer have an impact on my life. And whilst the end our friendship will always remain sad, it will also always remain in the past. Friendship, like life itself, can be wonderful, painful, exciting, dependable. They can be ongoing and reliable, they can change with time, or they can end – sometimes slowly, sometimes abruptly. All we can do if it comes to an end is appreciate what we had when we had it and move on with our lives with as little baggage as possible. I hope that she has realised this too, because despite everything that happened I would never cut her out of a photograph and maybe one day she will get past the need to do that to me.