I’ve been trying to write this for a year and am not likely to succeed in saying what I want to say with this attempt, either, but you know me: I’ve never been able to leave well enough alone. I’ve never known when to stop talking. I have never rebuilt a bridge burnt, no matter who struck the first match. I have a tendency to dump kerosene on fires because it’s less risky to stand on the opposite shore alone.
I suppose I might like to know when you made the decision that you would have nothing more to do with me. Between that winter when you told me I was one of the best things in your life to that summer when you stopped talking to me completely there wasn’t so much time. I can’t remember fighting. I can’t remember being cruel. I remember trying to get my feet under me. I remember inviting you over often; too often, in retrospect, because I remember your answering silence. I remember asking you what was wrong and I remember that you would not talk to me.
What happened that spring?
I suppose I failed you in some monumental way. That much is clear. Whatever I did, surely it was inhumane because you’ve said something to our mutual friends that’s encouraged them to shut me out, too. (A good parting shot you made with that one. Bravo, sir. I hope my loneliness makes you feel proud.) But, in this pretend conversation, I’m compelled to ask: what did I do?
I wish you had told me what I’d done wrong. Without knowing how I failed you I have no way to improve for others.
I don’t know why I’m so torn up about this; I know you aren’t.
I don’t know why I miss you.
You are content in my absence.
I wanted to be a friend to you. That has been true from my first impression of you: kind, quiet, smart, skilled, killer fashion sense. Those perceptions never changed, although they grew nuance and depth. You made it clear, over the decade that we knew each other, that your first impressions never relented, either: you thought I was arrogant, rude, not particularly pleasant to know. Of course, this was interspersed with compliments and fond affection and late-night conversations about the nature of love and literary analysis … so I let it slide. I thought you changed your mind about me.
This is, maybe, a prolonged period of mourning which I am experiencing. I have never lost a friend I loved so profoundly for no apparent reason before, even if that friend did not love me back. In theory, I know to expect myself to grieve, to give myself space to do so. In practice, I feel like you pulled something out of me and kept it and now I will never get it back and I am reminded every single day of this new void in my body where something vital once sat. I am distraught for that lack.
Are you satisfied?