When I was younger, I used to pray for a friend. I would clasp my hands and shut my eyes at night, muttering the request before bed. I’m lucky — as I know now — that I have best friends in my closest family. But I couldn’t help feeling that a piece of the puzzle was missing as I saw around me people who had become family by choice. Friends close enough to share not only moments of lung-shattering laughter, but also the quieter, darker moments. A best friend to fall asleep next to, mid-conversation, talking about everything and nothing.
The closest thing I had ever encountered to that was broken by physical distance, when I moved away from my childhood home at six years old. A few muffled phone calls and many imagined conversations later, those friendships fizzled like Diwali sparklers. They became safely ensconced in the warm, sweet haze of memory. Thoughts of those times were all I had when my new but hollow friendships came and went like the passing seasons. I wanted something more. Something for life.
When that wish started becoming reality, I actually didn’t notice. The new moments were much more immediate than my safely stored away memories, much too close for me to appreciate their warmth and transience. They brought mindless laughter, hoards of now incomprehensible inside jokes, strains of drama and misunderstandings that could rival any telenovela.
In turns, I grumbled about how annoying my friends could be, while passing the days secure in certain comforts only friends can accord. Always having someone to sit next to in school. The anticipation of walking home together and discussing the day, the knowledge that my phone would be filled with messages when I turned it on after a time of inactivity, and just feeling someone nearby who cares. Who thinks of you when they see something funny, who notices if you’re quiet, who puts up with your overreactions and, yes, causes a fair amount of drama because you matter enough to each other to be upfront if your feelings are hurt.
In those days, I stopped praying for friends.
Some moments in life happen within a heartbeat. Others take their time, crawling at first within the edge and rooting into your life while you’re looking the other way. Losing the first of my best friends happened so gradually that I was surprised when the word ‘friends’ didn’t really fit with their names anymore.
To be continued. Part 2 here.
I’m blogging every day this month. Take a look at the introduction to the series here.
Thank you for reading, and until next time.
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