Of Triangles And Train Wrecks

Every once in a while there comes an incident or a conversation which makes you re-examine your own behavior and beliefs, and indeed your own memory. Memory is, after all, largely associative, and completely connotative. What we remember is colored by how we felt about a certain situation, or how we wanted to feel–our own interests often dictate what parts of an occurrence we choose (subconsciously) to remember. Sometimes we think we remember things we don’t actually remember because we’ve heard stories about them so many times that we start to believe we remember–for instance, I’ve heard it said so many times that I was bald as a baby and mistaken for a boy, that I can picture myself there in the stroller, gender-misidentified, as though I actually remember it, which I decidedly do not. Similarly I remember a fight between my parents which I’m sure I was too young to remember, but which I’ve heard described so many times by both of them that I can visualize it. I was there, but I was too young to have cognizantly recalled the fight the way my mind paints the picture. The power of suggestion is amazing.

That said, I’m digressing from my original point.

I have recently come back into contact with an old friend from whom I’ve been estranged for nearly a decade. We did not have a single falling out; it was more like a series of miniature falling-outs which were never mentioned or dealt with until finally the whole thing unraveled, leaving me perhaps more bitter than I should have been. After all, none of the things over which we clashed were worth the effort–certainly not the man who turned out to be the catalyst of our friendship’s slow self-destruction. As she said in her email to me today, “we both did some really bitchy things to each other,” which is entirely true–however, I think I’d forgotten about the bitchy things I’d done because in our little petty, worthless competition, she turned out “victorious” (she won a whole lot of asshole), and I ended up spurned, nursing my wounded pride and having lost not one friend, but two. Our friendship, and in truth every relationship in our fucked-up little triangle was, to use her words, a trainwreck–and neither of us tried to right the damn train.

What I failed to take into consideration in resenting this friend for years afterward, was that though I was feeling hurt, deceived and eventually cast aside, I never once stood up for myself, or addressed the fact that I knew our friendship was falling apart. I didn’t fight for it. I resented my friend silently, and I never told her how hurt I felt by her behavior. I was content to think I’d been trampled on, but I was too chicken to say so. In addition, we BOTH violated the cardinal rule of friendship–we put the attention of a guy that we both knew wouldn’t last before friendship.

When I received her first email–she was the one who made contact after all this time–I neglected to consider that there are at least two sides to every story, and that my own jadedness may have prevented me from seeing that she didn’t have a grand time of it either. I never got her side of the story because I never asked for it. In truth, it’s all irrelevant now, because we’re both ten years older, and if age teaches us anything, it’s that high school doesn’t matter once the cap and gown come off. Still, it’s refreshing to get a wake-up call sometimes to remind you of your own folly.

I know that it will take time to get back to where we once were as friends, if it happens at all–but I’m willing now to take the time, and I’m willing to suspend my reservations and get to know her again. In her email, she reminded me of how much fun we used to have before it all went to hell, and I’m hoping we can get to that point again. One thing that I’ve learned in the ten years since we’ve seen each other is that you can never have too many friends–and that friendship is something that requires reciprocation and effort–upkeep, essentially.

So here’s to old friends becoming new ones, and to letting old bullshit lie in the past where it should.

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~ by saltgirlspeaks on 22 July, 2007.

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