Out of the Ether

Too many friends are lost in life that no one really intends losing. After a little while of no contact, it suddenly becomes very awkward to reinitiate a meaningful friendship again.

There is a tipping point of no contact beyond which a reinitiation of a relationship is very difficult because it requires going through the Small Talk phase. You know when you have a friend when you don’t have to do small talk with them. When you have silences in conversations, they don’t feel awkward because you know you can’t always talk about anything and everything all the time. But the silences in any non-friend, or former-friend relationship suddenly become very difficult. You feel the need to fill them with meaningless nonsense about the usual stuff, and you rack your brain immeasurably trying to think up what you could discuss next while on your current old favourite of what the weather is like today.

The reason why I’m suddenly thinking about all this is that I’ve just been contacted by a friend I haven’t heard from properly in about 6 months, but “properly” is defined in this case as an MSN conversation. In terms of any Real Life contact, there has been nothing for nearly two years, I’d say. Which is a real shame, as this is a friend I’ve had from the age of 11 and one I never want to let go of. But distance and time eventually take their toll, and it is a rare friendship from school days that manages to last into adulthood. But I don’t want this one to stop.

Yet, through the neglect of both of us, it has. Once it enters the neglect phase, a friendship is hard to repair because friends then make excuses. They say, “I haven’t heard from so-and-so for x days, but so-and-so hasn’t heard from me in the same length of time! It’s as much their fault as it is mine!” Of course, the other friend is also thinking exactly the same thing – “Why should I break the silence?” – and so the cycle continues until either forever or someone breaks ranks.

It seems this time the other person has done the job for me. Which is fantastic for me… I trust this person implicitly, and I have so much on my mind at the moment relating to what I’m doing with my life. Most of this is related to the fact that what I’m doing here in London is good, but it isn’t convincing me it’s what I should be doing with my life. So if there’s anyone I can talk with about my woes about my future, it is him.

Only I have to pass back through the Small Talk phase first. I can’t just unburden all my troubles on his doorstep. I’ve heard plenty of his problems in the past, particularly related to women, and he’s heard plenty of mine.

But I feel like I need a go on the amateur-psychology merry-go-round that is often the product of talking to your best friend in times of crisis. Though this isn’t a crisis… I just need to talk about things with someone. My housemate here is a really good friend, but he’s just not the type to really engage with this kind of discussion. So I just need to get things back to where they were first.

But the lesson in this is clear: never lose your best friend.

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