Category Archives: The Moment I Realized…

The Moment I Realized You Were Too Familiar

It wasn’t when we first met.

No, when we first met, I was excited. It was at large group and you motioned me over to sit next to you. I was confused (have we met?) but I quickly realized you were just nice and you thought I had a welcoming face. We were reading about David and Jonathan and you shared your desire for a friendship like that. I was more jaded, less enthusiastic, having just endured the highs and lows of that kind of friendship. But I was also impressed that you would so willingly share that with the group upon our first meeting.

It was when we first got coffee. We went to this chill spot in Harlem and talked about life (because, you know, making new friends is like dating). You told me about your time in TFA and I listened intently. You told me about your 80-100 hour work weeks, the sleepovers you threw for your students, the relationships you built with them. And then all the alarm bells started ringing. Your story was so familiar and so was your reasoning. And that scared me a lot.

Since then, we’ve gone for a few coffees, or dinners, or movies. But the time between each meeting grows. It’s not on purpose, but I’m not unaware of it either. Because after every hang out, I wonder to myself whether or not I should do it again. Because I know your type too well and I know that our types don’t work well together.

I would say it’s not you, but it is. It is you who focuses your energy on your work – your good work – at the detriment of your friendships and familial relationships. It is you who seeks authenticity and intentionality in romance but settles for far less than that. It is you who texts but doesn’t follow through.

But it’s me too. I’m the one who resists initiating so that I can resist rejection. I’m the one who keeps you at arms length so that I don’t make the same mistakes. I’m the one who stepped back from the game before it even started in earnest.

So yeah, you looked really familiar to me from the very beginning of our friendship. And that worries me a lot. But it’s also true that familiarity doesn’t imply a carbon copy. If I’m honest, I don’t know what to do about it.

But I think I should do something so as not to stumble into too familiar territory.

 

The Moment I Realized I Would Never Get Rid of You

I was on the phone with my dad today. The conversation was supposed to be a normal check-in (like all good daughters, I call my parents a few times a week). He asked me about my life, job prospects and the usual, and I was happy to tell him I had just been offered a position. I told him it could be interesting and exciting and worthwhile and then he told me that I was doing it wrong.

My conversation with my dad ended in tears and I couldn’t figure out why. That was until I realized it was because of you. You, the constant reminder of my ineptitude, the one whom I run away from as a child flees a monster, the ever-present fixture in my post-high school life.

When I was young, it was easy to get away from you. I excelled in school so I never had to encounter you there. And if I did do an event that forced me to deal with you I could quit because why play the game if you know you’ll lose?

But of course, the man who never let me win and yet always made me play was the same one compelling me to keep moving forward in spite of you. And like so many of those games 15 years ago, this interaction ended in tears.

I’m not good at running at the wall, forcing it to move. If I get hurt the first time, I’m not coming back again to see if things change. At least not anymore. I think it’s because I’ve let you compel me. There was a time when I’d wake up every morning anticipating the moment when I would play basketball against my dad. And when I lost, I’d go back and practice until it was time to face him again and lose again. But then something happened. I don’t know what it was. But somewhere along the way I got so afraid of you that I stopped playing the game.

Even now, I’m really afraid of you. And I don’t like you. And I’m really torn about what to do next and where to go. But I’m also afraid that I’ll look back on my life and see a series of unfinished plans. But I’m even more afraid that I’ll look back and convince myself that it’s okay that those things were unfinished.

I never beat my dad in basketball and I think it was because before I was old enough or good enough to beat him I had already quit over my frustration with encountering you. But I always encounter you. And I guess I’m starting to see that my fear of you has led me to make a lot of safe decisions.

So I don’t know. I don’t know what to do about you. I just want to play basketball with my dad.

The Moment I Realized We Weren’t A Perfect Match

Or rather, the moment I realized we weren’t who we wanted each other to be.

I’ve been thinking about you a lot recently. This is something I’d previously be ashamed about because I know you don’t like knowing that I think about you.  But I’m not (too) ashamed. I do think about you sometimes.

I think I’ve been thinking about you recently because “breakups” are never really a clean break. The thoughts aren’t nostalgic, as they once were. They’re more like ambivalent memories. Stephanie leaves soon and I find myself wishing for more black friends so maybe the friendship thing just brings you to my mind. Or maybe not. Maybe I’m just remembering things because remembering is a part of life. I’m allowed to feel.

I’m remembering why things didn’t quite work out. Mostly from my perspective, because that’s the only one I have. I’m remembering wanting (maybe expecting?) more from you and being confused and disappointed when you couldn’t (wouldn’t?) give me that. I’m remembering time spent trying to understand the disconnect – talking and writing and talking again. I’m remembering the moments I gave up, deciding not to try anymore then switching to passive aggression then giving up on that then getting upset when the same dissatisfaction ensued. I’m remembering the trivia.

You probably don’t remember the trivia (though if you do that may prove the theory right). We were “roadtripping” around North Jersey, scouting apartments for our friend, and you found the box in the car. You proceeded to ask me questions about Africa, a continent I know almost nothing about except that my ancestors must’ve had crappy lives there because they were unfortunate enough to be sold into slavery by their African brothers and sisters.

Africa, a place as foreign to me as any other, yet fairly well-known by you. The same Africa you had contemplated revisiting. The same Africa I had no interest in seeing.

I didn’t know most of the answers to the trivia questions and that bothered me. Not because I thought I should, but because I thought YOU thought I should. Because you wanted me to be the kind of person who knew answers to Africa trivia. Because you wanted me to be not me.

But you weren’t alone. Because a few months later, I realized I wanted you to be not you. You asked if, after I got married, I might look back on our relationship and be disappointed that my relationship with my husband wasn’t quite like my relationship with you. I said no, because my relationship with you hadn’t been positive for a while and that would negatively affect my memory of it. But the real answer is “no, because you asked that question.” Because you didn’t get that it wasn’t about comparison or romanticism or a weird situation where I’d always want my future husband to be like my college best friend. Because you couldn’t help but be you and I couldn’t help but be just the slightest bit uninterested in befriending that person.

I sometimes wonder what good came of our friendship, but I know that’s a shortsighted perspective. I’m sure there were lots of good things. Other times I wonder how and why we chose each other to be the ultimate bearers of our disappointment. I have other friends, none of whom I place unrealistic expectations on, so what happened with you? I don’t know the answer to that and right now I don’t much care. To be honest, I don’t think I’d do things much differently.

Let me end with this: I’m sorry if you’re reading this. I assume you’re not because the chances are small but if you somehow are, sorry. I know you don’t like to be thought of, least of all by me. While on the topic, let me also say that I’m not actually that sorry. Because this was way more for me than it was for you. And losing your best friend is a big enough deal that it’s worth writing about more than once. I’m not sorry for having been emotionally invested in our friendship, though there are times I wish the investment had been smaller, less risky.

Sheila texted me about getting takeout and not responding to guys on a dating app. Steph texted about going to a rooftop bar and saying goodbye (again). They remind me how much I love my friends and how happy I am to be here, right now. I don’t say this to make you feel jealous or something dumb (you never seemed to be the jealous type). I say it because I’m always struck by the human capacity to span emotional continents. I’m thinking about you but I’m not, at least not fully. It’s odd but I guess it’s how life goes. Time ticks away, memories fade, and only the present seems important.

Or maybe I should just give up on philosophy.

Anyway, if you are reading this: don’t you have something better to do than read my blog?! Between all the obsessive posts about Adele and Tina Fey you’re probably losing so many brain cells. Go study or something. Learn a book. And good luck down there. Though you probably won’t need it.