I spoke to an old friend after ages today. We used to be joined at the hip in school but we had a slight tiff and things changed. And then of course we moved to different cities and now we barely speak, maybe once in 2 months.
The moment he picked up and said Hello, the first thing that struck me was how familiar his voice has always been to me, how I could identify it anywhere in a crowd and without even consciously realising it, just how badly I had missed it all this time.
We spoke just like how we used to in school, without a hint of awkwardness creeping in in spite of the long gap, laughed and mused about old times and shared what’s going on in each other’s life. He’s doing really well in his. He had been going through a rough patch, a difficult relationship, but now all of that is in the past and I’m really happy for him. There was a time when we would have turned to the other for the slightest thing and stood by each other. I remember how he helped me through my first heartbreak and I through his, how I tried to comfort him when he told me about issues he had with his dad, how we shared memories of our childhood troubles and joys. But for the last three years we had been completely absent in each other’s lives, coping with things on our own, failing to witness the growth or change which for whatever reasons had come into the other’s life. We had grown up and apart from each other.
The funny thing is that even as I’m writing about this, I’m not actually feeling bad that this happened. I think one of the biggest lessons that life forces us to learn is to stop having expectations from others, to rely only on yourself and not be dependent on anyone else. The truth is, I’m really good at that and that scares me. I’ve made some great friends in life but when the time comes for us to move away for studies or job or any other reason, I move on too soon.
Last summer when I had to say goodbye to two of my seniors who were among my closest friends here, I actually sat in my room and wept. Partly because I knew that even as we promised we would keep in touch as much as we could, we knew we wouldn’t. We would eventually drift apart over the years, lose touch and one day, lose each other’s contacts and just become a name in the other person’s memory. Acknowledging the truth of that was harder than saying goodbye.
I haven’t spoken to them in the past 2 months. What does that say about me? I remember how Peyton always said on OTH-People always leave. It’s true and initially you miss them a lot but eventually it all ceases to matter. The hardest part is not that people always leave; the hardest part is that people always move on. Including you and I.