It has been three years and I finally broke my bonds with my best friend. This best friend concept is something some of us can do without. I went through school looking at others pairing up and for some reason we were always odd numbered in class. So that meant one person got left out and had to be painfully injected into a happy twosome to create an awkward trio.
That was me. I was also that kid that you didn’t want on your softball team because from the looks of it I wasn’t much good for anything. Truth is, I could pulp the shit out of that ball with the maiden strike. The kids didn’t know. They were stuck with me and started rolling their eyes and kicking the dirt when it was finally my turn.
Kids like that don’t have best friends. Kids like that, like me, hardly had friends. If I look back I don’t recall there being anything so godawful about me. I was just a regular kid. If anything I came across as a little desperate because I so wanted to be accepted. Forget popular; that would never happen. But if one person would look at me and say, “you’re nice. I like you. I hope we can be friends,” it would have been nice. It would have been more than enough.
When it finally did happen, I fell in love with them. I suppose it was natural for my age. And natural because you go so long hungry for love of some kind that when you see a sliver of it, you grab it like it was made of gold. Because it is rare and precious and if you lose it you will kill yourself.
Of course, it always ended up the same. They left. They got weirded out. They found other people. They went away to other schools, other countries and I went back to being that last unchosen kid for Games class.
You think things will get better when you’re grown up but the heart remains a child. I am nearly 40 years old, and I marvel at women who giggle and sip sodas together, who share the same size and buy each other clothes, women who go on holiday together, get drunk together, get hysterically funny together, and collapse into a weepy heap with each other.
I marvel not because I don’t understand what this is, but because I have never really had it long enough to keep it and call it my own. Sure, there have been glimpses of it. 40 is a long time to go without experiencing a little of everything on life’s grand buffet train. But while I have sampled I have not savoured. While I have tasted, I have not taken, and while I have marvelled I have not managed to make or keep my own unbreakable bonds.
Maybe I am just not worth the pain. Maybe there is simply too much that is wrong with me, despite knowing I have my everything to give in exchange for one sincere, evocative friendship. I’m not the one anyone wants to link their arm go to eat lunch with.
I eat alone a lot. I sleep alone. And many weekends are spent wordlessly. It begs the question: am I lonely? And I guess in some odd ways I am although it doesn’t feel the same anymore – the loneliness. It has a different flavour. Sometimes it’s comfort. Sometimes, mellow and gentle, like hair being stroked. Other times, it itches like a synthetic sweater. But it is always quiet. Even through the din in my head that won’t let me sleep at night. Even then, it’s a deathly silent existence.
Strangely enough I never stopped looking for that elusive best friend of mine. A few years ago I found her. We could complete each other’s sentences, we cracked each other up, took each other’s pants on a regular basis, and never betrayed confidences. We lived thousands of miles apart and met just once. But we spoke every day, sometimes oftener, and made memories to last a lifetime. I was certain she was the one. “Mo anam cara”, or soul friend. Like all things it was perfect until it wasn’t.
We don’t speak anymore. It’s been a few months. The reasons are irrelevant, I realise. There is a pattern of repetition. An assembly line of experience that must complete its run. And so it is.
I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt like a bitch on toast, especially when I discover how happy she is with her new life, and the boyfriend I didn’t know about, and the new friend who is splashed all over that revolting social media tabloid called Facebook. I am… Drama. And there’s no room for that.
So out I go back into the softball pitch and wait for everyone to be done picking their players so I can go where I was unwanted but stuck with. And I wait my turn to step on the plate and with burp-like satisfaction make that bat sing in a way that sends the ball high into the night so it never comes back.
Because I don’t want it back. I don’t want to play this shitty game and I don’t want a best friend anymore. I think I will eat alone and sleep alone a while longer because it is simpler, and there is no struggle with what is. On some days I can pretend it doesn’t even hurt anymore.