Dear Ex Best Friend,
Do you remember that time when we met the first day of Anime club at our high school? I was that girl who would not stop talking to you. I remember making it my mission to annoy you because it was funny. But, our friendship didn’t spawn from that. Rather, it was when I reached out to you at our school trip to ACEN and told you to join our group. I expected you to say no, but you didn’t. We spent the whole day together checking out booths and admiring cosplay of our favorite anime characters and I remember in the note you wrote for my High School Graduation Jar you said that day meant a lot to you. You said don’t be like those people in college who stop talking to their high school friends. And I listened to you.
I look back at the start of our friendship and what it became and I wonder what happened. I look back and see the arch, the ebb and flow of our love for each other, whether or not we shared the same type of love. I look back at how we changed as people even though we resented those changes we saw in each other. We weren’t willing to accept what growing up will do to you.
The best thing about college is that I could separate myself from who high school claimed I was. I didn’t have to be that loud spazz that seemed to find the stupidest things to say. The girl who wasn’t capable of deep thought. That weird annoying girl who wore skirts with jeans and dyed her bangs blonde to prove a point. I wanted to prove that I could be more than that. I wanted to prove that in those four years, I had changed. I had grown into my body and my mind had grown too, through experience, both good and bad. I wanted to be confident with who I was and not who people thought I was. I didn’t want to feel like I had to be anything but me.
The summer before college when you began sending applications out to universities, I convinced you to apply to Columbia because they had a video game degree. Video games were something you were always passionate about. You applied and you got in. The summer after my first year in college, we spent most of vacation together. We’d hang out at the park by my house and cuddle and we hung out at your house and played Rock Band. We’d go on walks and talk. You mentioned that I was different since before college. I did change. I had gone through a lot living on my own. Living away from people who had spent fifteen years creating a permanent image of me, hiding from heartbreak of an ex, discovering what it meant to be a writer, what it meant to actually take care of myself, what it meant to be out at three in the morning because you’re eighteen and no longer have a curfew.
We spent that summer planning your first year of college. I will admit, when I found out we’d be living in the same dorm building, I felt a little nervous. Space became an issue. I worried that you’d rely on me as your only friend on campus. I worried that we’d spent too much time together and grow sick of each other. We hung out the first week of classes. That was one of the few times we really could hangout. I remember we went to the zoo together with two of my other friends. I remember hanging out in your dorm room playing guitar. Then class workload caught up with us. I began to socialize with new people. We didn’t have time for each other. When we did hang out, things seemed weird. There were less laughs and less smiles. More discomfort. You didn’t like it when I didn’t text back, yet I always seemed to have my phone out when we hung out. You didn’t like that I seemed like I never paid attention to what you were saying. I always seemed distracted. I didn’t like that you were so judgmental. I didn’t like that you wanted to police me on every little thing. So what if you thought I wasn’t paying attention. I was.
I remember the first time I told you that I drank a lot in college. I wasn’t sure how you’d think about that. You were the type of person who wouldn’t even swear because you thought it was immoral. I swore like a sailor. You weren’t okay with how much I drank. I don’t know if it was because I was underage at the time or if it was that you thought there was something unethical about getting drunk at a college party, but that’s when things started going downhill for us. You realized we didn’t share the same moral compass.
I remember when you told me you were in love with me. I mean in love. Not the platonic friendship love, the I think you are the world love. I knew you had a crush on me. I knew you liked me. And I knew I loved you but not in the same way. I look back at that now and laugh a little, because I wonder how you could possibly have been in love with me when you didn’t seem to know the real me at all. You told me I changed so much since high school. You told me you missed the old me. Were you really in love with me or were you in love with what you hoped I still was?
That was a downward slope in our friendship too. I understand that rejection hurts. It feels like nothing matters and everything tastes terrible. But it made it harder to feel comfortable spending time with you. I think you were uncomfortable too and I don’t blame you. I do blame you for not getting over it. For not remembering that I was your friend and a person and not someone just you have unrequited romantic feelings for.
Maybe the straw that broke our friendship was when you found out I smoked weed for the first time. I wasn’t sure how to tell you about this because I knew how you felt about drinking. I could only imagine what you would have to say about this. But you were my best friend. I didn’t want to keep secrets from you.
I remember your exact words and they still echo in my mind. “I can handle the drinking but I cannot handle you smoking weed.”
We became distant after that. We stopped hanging out. We’d see each other in passing. Sometimes we’d wave at each other, other times we’d ignore each other completely. Then you texted me that we needed to talk. We met in the stairway of our shared dorm building. There were tears in your eyes. I asked you what you needed to talk about. You explained to me how you felt. How you felt I had changed and you didn’t like the changes, how I never seemed to pay attention when we hung out, how you didn’t like that I drank, that I got high, that I never texted back, that I wasn’t a good friend. You said you didn’t want to be friends anymore. I told you my side. That I do care. That I’m generally bad at messaging friends. That I have changed because people always change. You decided to stay my friend after that.
Things seemed fine. We hung out during winter break. I met your friends and played D and D and Super Smash Bros. You drew me that picture of me wearing a yellow sweater (my favorite color,) standing next to a Christmas tree and snow. It looked just like me. When we started the next semester, we tried to spend more time together. I remember one time you showed me your project for a class where you had to make a comic about your life story and you felt so proud to show it to me. That was one of the last great memories I have with you.
We grew busy again. I met a guy that I fell in love with. I remember you didn’t like him. I spent the summer in Chicago and you went back to our hometown. We didn’t hang out that summer. When fall semester started up again, you texted me to give you back that red sweater I borrowed from your brother a long time ago, around when we first started to hang out. You didn’t tell me why. You just said it was important. I remember handing back the sweater and I could see that something was off. You were colder. Less engaged. I didn’t get that warmness I got from you when we spent summers cuddling in the park. You deleted me as your friend on Facebook which might seem like a petty detail but we live in an age where social media means everything. You stopped texting me altogether. I remember the first time I saw you in months when I was in the computer lab of the video game building. I know you saw me that day, but you ignored me and that wouldn’t be the last time you’d ignore me.
I’m writing this letter to you right now because you called me out of the blue a few days ago. I was sitting at a KFC eating lunch and my cell phone rang and it was a phone number from my hometown but if I knew it was you, I wouldn’t have answered the phone. I don’t think you understand how much pain I felt losing you as a friend. Knowing that you never wanted to take the chance to learn the real me. That you couldn’t accept me for me. That you were offended that I wasn’t considerate of your feelings- on what? On morals? On your feelings for me? On who you wanted me to be?
I answered the phone and heard your voice and you said “Hey it’s -. I just called to ask how do you go about looking for an apartment in Chicago.” Unfortunately, I’m a nice person who doesn’t always say what’s on their mind. I gave you the information and you said, “Well that’s all that I needed.” And you hung up. After ignoring me for months, you hung up. No explanation. Nothing. Maybe you never owed me an explanation for ending our friendship. For deciding that I was a ghost when we crossed paths on campus, but I can definitely say that under no circumstances is calling me after ignoring my existence for eight months is acceptable.
I hope you never do that again. I’ll miss the good times we had together. But I won’t miss the times you weren’t there for me when I needed you. I won’t miss how you judged me for not being who you wanted me to be. I won’t miss those things. And maybe someday, I won’t miss you.
Best of Luck With the Rest of Your Life,