We were friends and have become estranged. But this was right, and we do not want to conceal and obscure it from ourselves as if we had reason to feel ashamed. We are two ships each of which has its goal and course; our paths may cross and we may celebrate a feast together, as we did – and then the good ships rested so quietly in one harbor and one sunshine that it may have looked as if they had reached their goal and as if they had one goal. But then the almighty force of our tasks drove us apart again into different seas and sunny zones, and perhaps we shall never see each other again; perhaps we shall meet again but fail to recognize each other: our exposure to different seas and suns has changed us. That we have to become estranged is the law above us; by the same token we should also become more venerable for each other – and the memory of our former friendship more sacred. There is probably a tremendous but invisible stellar orbit in which our very different ways and goals may be included as small parts of this path; let us rise up to this thought. But our life is too short and our power of vision too small for us to be more than friends in the sense of this sublime possibility. Let us then believe in our star friendship even if we should be compelled to be earth enemies.
E. and I aren’t really friends anymore. Not in any meaningful sense, anyway.
Nothing dramatic; out with a sigh, not a bang. And it’s been that way for a long time; the only thing that’s changed is my resigned acceptance of it. Still, even acknowledging that non-event feels like the thudding reverberation of a heavy door being closed.
She was probably the closest I came to experiencing an Epicurean ideal of friendship — not that I haven’t known other people with the same qualities I loved about her, and not that she was perfect in any way —just that we managed to be perfect friends for each other during an all-too-brief window of time, and while we were so young, yet.
I’ve spent years looking back to that time as if it were the rule to our relationship and not the exception.
I didn’t know then that finding people with the time and inclination to talk about anything and everything from trivia to urgent questions of life and death while listening, actually listening, and responding as if it all mattered deeply, would be so exceedingly rare. Maybe it’s just the unscarred optimism of youth that’s impossible to recreate with other people, the blithe cheerfulness of having seemingly limitless time and potential ahead of you rather than behind. But those hours of conversations with her have turned into biannual emails around birthdays and holidays, sometimes with years in between, the sheer gravity of all that lost time bearing down with a despairing futility upon any attempts to revive the vitality of the old connection.