Hold Your Breath and Dive On In

It is so hard to go back to a friendship that meant the world to me and dive into the past with heart-stopping breath.

In high school Lindsay (1, 2) and I became very close and our friendship held strong almost through graduation from college…almost. We lost touch for reasons I never understood at the time and as the months turned into years, my faith in regaining contact dwindled. But I knew where Lindsay’s mother worked, who was a friend of the family, and so I would occasionally visit her mother and get little snippets of news about Lindsay and her new life in HugeAssCity, CA.

Recently, we have been in contact and meticulously catching up on each other’s lives. This has been an unquantifiable blessing (after all, we’ve known each other since we were six-years old). At first our reconnection felt like jumping off the dock into a spring-fed pond during the middle of winter. There is a certain expectation that it’s not going to be easy but this is also paired with the anticipation that a rush of life will accompany the crazy-cold elation of taking a risk in the first place.

Perhaps hardest of all is the work we are doing trying to understand our miscommunications as young adults and how we got where we are today. So far each of us has been able to approach this objectively and avoid personal attacks or taking things personally. That simply isn’t where we want this to go. Still, if diving into the pond is what we’ve done, occasionally we’ve lapped at the thin-icy edges of winter’s hold on the surface of the pond and it’s clear that only thoughtful consideration of the task at hand will get our friendship anywhere.

It’s scary to hear so bluntly what my cherished friend thought was going through my mind the day, as she puts it, our friendship ended. The shocking part of it all is that I have no memory of the day she speaks – and it was not marked by an explosion or tears of any kind. It simply passed as any day would in my mind and did not take hold in my memory cache. In the pond of our friendship I am completely submerged below the surface on that day and my memory can offer nothing. She, on the other hand, floats vividly at the top and can recall leaving me that day, determined never to look back.

My memory of how our friendship died is so utterly slow and steady and anticlimactic you could tread water in it. If pressed, perhaps I could narrow it down to a series of emotions (not a series of events, though) but even that would risk rewriting history.

How is it that two people could have misunderstood each other so profoundly without knowing it? The emotional weight of this discovery six years after the fact is difficult to measure but it is deep like a well, heavy like cast iron, fragile like an egg. Already I have visions of a reunion with her, which would of course take place on NW 23rd street in downtown Portland at Coffee People, and I know I would cry at our first embrace as I am now.

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