Funeral Pyre for a Forsworn Friendship
Maybe you've read my post on bygone muses, maybe not, but this one is of a similar ilk. Instead of muses, though, this is about some of my old friends. People who used to be close to me once but exist now as memories and abandoned group chats.
Through my life, I've had many friends, but perhaps none more important than the group of four that formed over the years. We had many different secondary characters that came in and out at various times in our friend group's history, but the four of us remained pretty core to the group the entire time, with some of us bowing out for months at a time for various reasons, but a core group remained intact nonetheless.
I remember when I was in the second grade as a new kid in a new school and thought I would never make friends again in my entire life. Wrong. Of course. I made two friends in this year of my life that are particularly important because they remained my closest friends for the next 12 years of my life. The third friend came in the fourth grade and stuck around just as long (and became more than friends at some points too. [What a mess that all was.])
Through our elementary and middle school years, there was not much difference between any of us. We were all just kids. Young and stupid and struggling to figure out how best to grow up. When we began to enter our hormonal years, things took a turn. Myself and the female friend of the group bonded and had an on-off-on-off, drama-fueled relationship for a little while, and then she moved away. (And then came back for us to repeat the process again, naturally). Somehow, despite that mess, the four of us stayed friends. The two other guys in our group always butted heads, which left me trying to mend the wounds on a weekly basis. Yet the group stayed.
In high school, we all pretty much remained the same. We were just kids still and wanted to have fun, so we did. Granted, the fun got a little more extreme, I guess? We went from soda to vodka and candy sticks to devil's lettuce. Some of us went down darker roads, but we still managed to maintain the one pillar that we all shared: each other.
One of my friends struggled to stay in school and never graduated. One of them barely got by. One of them dropped out of college in the first year. It was around this time that I realized the differences that had formed over the years. I had always cared about my school and future path, but the three of them were more content with letting life happen to them instead. And as a result, we began to grow apart in early adulthood.
That brings us to the pyre. A literal but figurative funeral pyre for a forsworn friendship. We had a trailer in the abyss of one of our backyards. We would spend every summer down there. First, it was to play cops and robbers. Then it became a smoking hideaway. A private place for us to explore teenagerhood without the prying eyes of parents. It was a bastion for our friendship, forged with weeds and wasp nests. The little trailer we had called our summer home for a decade.
On the last day that I saw one of these friends, we had all agreed to hang out, grab lunch, and smoke a little. We were, of course, just trying to hold on to the glory days of our fleeting youth. This last day was an overcast day. Miserable and brooding. We were inside the trailer and decided to warm ourselves up on this cold autumn day by having a small fire in the old hubcap, like we had time and time again. But this time was different.
The blankets wrapping the inside of the trailer for warmth and privacy became kindling for a fire we had never expected. The little flame caught one blanket and caught another. We tried to smother the growing blaze with dirt, sand, and water, but nothing would put it out. I can still remember standing at the top of the hill in his backyard as we watched the column of black smoke rise against the hazy white sky. We watched as our familiar hideout went up in flames; our friendship going up in smoke with it. I only saw the other friend one more time after this for an awkward lunch date. The friend who owned the trailer... well, I haven't really heard from him in years.
One of the most painful things I've ever had to do was admit to myself that the people I had grown up with for so long no longer fit into my life the way they had before. It took a lot of distancing and time to get through these emotions. I wish the best for them, of course, but I also wish the best for me, and I don't think either of these things could happen if we were all left holding onto the ashes of a friendship we no longer had.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that the length of a friendship doesn't make it better or worse. You have to analyze it critically to decipher if the person, or people, make sense to have in your life. It's just unfortunate for me that the time I made my choice coincided with the burning of a place that had meant so much to each of us. But we had to move on, so in a way, watching that trailer go up in smoke was almost like the universe giving us a blessing that our friendships were tattered and dead and that we had to dissipate off into the hazy white sky to find greener pastures.
Anyway, love you, guys. Hope you are all doing well out there.
as always, have a good wander!