The sun shone through the windshield of my little gray Beetle speeding along the Adirondack thruway as my friend and I were headed home from our trip to Montreal, Canada. The trip was everything I had hoped it would be—I was captivated by the beautiful city and its charm, rich history, and insanely good food. On top of all that, I got to experience it with a good friend, who also happens to be an ex of mine.
1. We met in high school, and got to know each other through band, something we both loved
We became close friends until we realized it might be more than that. We'd bop along to Taylor Swift, our band music (I know, I know, we're nerds), and play video games together for a year before realizing it wasn't for us.
The breakup was hard at first, for me at least. This was the first person I had cared about in such a profound way, and it was the absolute most fun I had ever had with anyone in my life at that point.
2. It's really hard losing your best friend when they're right there in front of you
All those things I would usually be able to tell him about — my day, how I was feeling, the consistency of this guac I just got with my bowl — seemed pointless to talk about. Of course, we cared about each other, but it was the hardest thing to see him in class every day after and not feel pain with all the memories that would flood my brain the moment I would meet his gaze. For a while, all I wanted was for everything to go back to the way it was.
3. It seemed like things would never be normal again
I was stuck at a crossroads, with people telling me that the only way to move forward was to completely remove him from my life. On the other hand, at the beginning of our relationship, my friend and I had promised we would try to remain friends if it didn't work out. We knew we would have to see each other in class and around school anyways, and it seemed unnecessary to cease talking altogether. We started out as friends, and we were determined to end as friends. As unlikely as it was, I hopped on board with the idea, much to the disapproval of my other friends.
4. You'll go through a time where you hate the other person
Weeks had gone by into our attempt to staying friends, but it was extremely difficult as feelings of frustration and animosity started to build. Our conversations became trivial, our interactions shy and reserved — we didn't know what to say. We'd dance around tough topics until it would die down to an awkward silence. It no longer felt genuine and I hated being part of something fake and worse than if we had just broken up and never spoken to one another ever again. I wanted to yell at him for suggesting we try this because it seemed that we would never recover from this awful, shattered relationship now.
5. We finally parted ways
He graduated high school a year before I did, and we would talk occasionally over text, but days would go by before we'd speak again. The distance was helpful, and eventually, I was no longer concerned or worried about what would become of us. I remember frequently wondering if this was finally the last time we would ever speak to one another. I was ready to let it go, and I had accepted that maybe this was the point our friendship would sail away. I was thankful for all the memories.
6. Years later, we both found love again
We never really did stop texting. Soon it became normal to see his name pop up on my phone, and each time it did, I could feel that pang of longing and sadness fade into... nothing. For the first time in forever, I thought of him as a friend instead of an ex. Our conversations, though they were only over text, started becoming fun again. I was no longer scared about upsetting the balance while texting. We both got into happy relationships in college for a time, and we found love with our respective significant others and in our own relationship with one another. We could finally talk about things again, our personal love lives, college, the music we loved, all without the weight that we seemed to carry before.
7. I had a crazy idea
We would see each other back at home when we'd be off of school. It wasn't weird seeing him again after so long, and it seemed like the conversation would pick up right where we'd left off. We have similar tastes in many ways and it helped that our easy-going natures would have us genuinely enjoy the time we would spend hanging out with our other friends. In the midst of the past fall semester, I had a crazy idea to go on a trip to Canada, but I didn't really know which of my friends would enjoy a trip like that as much as I would. And then I realized I should just ask him. I was scared because all of a sudden it wasn't me asking my friend to go on a road trip, it was me asking my ex if he wanted to spend three days in a beautiful city right around the holidays. I knew it was gonna maybe be weird.
8. Oops, we're in Canada
As nervous as I was about asking, I realized that I didn't care because it wouldn't affect our friendship, even if he said no. He told me he loved when he went to Quebec with his family and would be down to go back to Canada someday, but he wasn't sure when he'd be able to make a trip happen. A couple weeks later, he messaged me saying he had found some extra cash and asked if I was still willing to go to Montreal. We planned our trip and all of a sudden it was official and we were really going.
9. An experience like nothing else
The trip was comprised of everything we wanted to do — most of which were the same things. We knew each other well enough to pick up on whether we were having fun or bored and ready to move on to the next activity. Our similar tastes and easy-going attitudes made finding things to do and places to eat really easy. It was a relief to me that we were both enjoying ourselves together as friends. Looking back on where we started, I never would have thought we would end up on a trip to Montreal together and actually enjoy it. It's an experience I will always look back on with satisfaction because through all the hardship and pain, we finally made it someplace we can care about one another. It had made me realize that I look forward to all the places our friendship could take us, literally!