You know those last, gasping days of a dying relationship? Those awkward moments that were once comfortable and quiet? The frustrating disagreements that are born from the nothing? The cold freeze and stonewall that resembles a granite cliff you become exhausted by the very thought of scaling? The annoyance, the missing invitations where previously your presence was a given? We’ve all been there.
Romance, in most cases, has a half life, and if the relationship isn’t solid, when the romance begins to fade, so often do the ties of partnership, love and commitment.
Now, supplant “romance” with “activity partner and platonic confidant” and “relationship” with “friendship” and…do a little dance? I don't know. It seems wrong. It doesn't fit. It seems like Cinderella’s shoe on an elephant.
And yet. And yet. Sometimes we go through this with a friend.
And what. What if the breakup isn’t just with a friend, but with a group of friends. What if it becomes clear that not only has one friend simply drifted away, but a whole social circle has, clearly, come to find you irrelevant, uninteresting, perhaps even a little strange and alienating?
I swear it feels like fucking high school. Like the ostracization of my youth. Like they are all standing their laughing and giggling and making plans and I am awkwardly figuring out how to walk by them without making eye contact or hopefully even making them aware of my presence. Even though they are. Aware of my presence. One of these things is not like another. One of these things is an elephant foot in a a pretty little shoe. One of these things is standing on the edge of the crowd because it’s too awkward to leave, too invasive to speak, too frustrating to fix.
And I know. I know. It’s not like that. “Adults” are not like that.
You know, they actually aren’t. They won’t snub you to your face. They won’t talk under their breath about your lame shoes or your haircut. They won't ACTUALLY give you the silent treatment. But here is what they will do: end every conversation unceremoniously with a fake smile. Look bemused at anything you say and label it’s clear irrelevance with a smirk. Invite you, on occasion, out of a sense of charity or a need to keep face, to event after event, events you feel rude to reject yourself, and then avoid any and all conversation with you, relegating you to a corner, awkwardly staring at the artwork on the wall, or trying to pretend you are part of various conversations taking place, until they turn to last weeks tea party, yesterdays bike ride, today’s lunch that you were not invited to. Until the clear and present bonds of the other participants, nurtured through ongoing activities begin to sparkle and gleam, begin look like the red silk rope at the front of a club that you are not allowed past.
And still. While people grow apart… I just can’t seem to get it. I don’t get it. I won’t let myself get it. I keep showing up out of some sense of hope or propriety. I call, rationalizing it might be me or they might be busy or it's just bad timing. I keep trying and trying to revive these dead friendships. I keep sucking face with the corpse of my social life past.
Because while breakups are inevitable in all sorts of situations: romantic, personal, professional, I find the platonic breakups to be the hardest to understand and stomach. I KNOW it is inevitable, in the interest of growth, that a professional relationship, a job, if you will, has an ending, a moving on. Likewise, I understand that most romantic relationships, mostly fueled by chemistry, are apt to dissolve when the chemistry wanes, or when the details turn that chemistry volatile, unpredictable, sometimes even, disturbing.
But friendships, born of commonality and trust, generally grown on the seeds of unloaded and clear understanding, seem like they should be able to go the distance, to grow organically, slowly, freely. Like distance should be kind, difference enriching.
So, you know, it’s hard to understand and not take personally. It’s hard not to “get it” and not simultaneously feel freaky or dull or…just plain out rejected.
Because that’s what it is folks, whether it’s the outright rejection of a team of giggling 13 year olds or the slow demotion of a gaggle of 30 year olds. It’s rejection. And it smells, tastes, and feels the same.