Once, I was the “best friend.” Now, I am “Nia.”
Being Nia, in itself, isn’t a problem. I mean, it is my name. But now, when it’s said, there’s no real feeling behind it. It appears as if “Nia” is just another name to remember.
How does time manage to take away one’s title and change how we say someone’s name?
Let me try to break this down.
“Hey! How in the world are you?”
“I’m doing good! You?”
“I’m well. Thanks! What’s been up?”
“Same old, same old. What about you?”
“I’ve been busy with this and that, you know.”
“Oh, okay. Cool.”
Above is a generic sample conversation inspired by the many similar conversations I’ve had.
How? How does that even happen? How can you, for years, be so close to someone, share so much with someone, do so much with someone, then POOF! In a blink of an eye, that someone is nothing more than a familiar face.
“We’re not friends. We’re not enemies. We’re just strangers with memories.”
And that’s just what we are – strangers. There wasn’t a falling out or a conflict, but now, we treat each other only a little better than we would a stranger on the street. I guess the same thing could go for relationships, too.
I was at a graduation party. I made my rounds to the familiar faces, while avoiding one young man in particular. It sounds terrible, I know.
During the rest of my time at the party, the young man and I were on opposite sides of the vicinity. We locked eyes on several occasions. I wanted to go over and talk with him, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it because I knew that I, if not the both of us, would have nothing meaningful to say.
I was once a good friend of his and his family. But now, nothing but an occasional glance was the thing keeping us connected.
I found a heart that my former best friend gave me. She gave me one half, and she had the other half.
So many memories came back to me upon seeing this heart. However, I was afraid to show her what I found. I was afraid she’d look and say, “That’s cute! Where’d you get it?” I’d rather preserve that bubble of memories than pop it with a needle of reality.
And perhaps I’m just too scared – scared that I’ll become even more sensitive to friendships than I am now.
One of the most confusing things to me is how some “strangers” can’t seem to regain the depth of closeness they once had.
You try to talk about important or unimportant things in your lives. You try to get back to where you were, but can’t. It feels like you don’t know each other at all, and you find yourself forcing a halfway decent conversation, as opposed to the easy, flowing ones you once had before.
I blame myself.
I’m the type of person who, if I didn’t speak to you for months, would be able to pick things up right where we left off. In my younger years, I assumed that everyone was the same way. Had I known that my absence would water down some of my friendships, I would’ve tried harder to communicate with them.
Some may ask, “If we’re not close now, were we even close in the first place?”
Yes. Like I said, the same idea could apply to relationships.
You can be so intimate with someone, but when the relationship is over, there’s a distance.
But for me, yes. I believe our closeness was real. Though, at that younger age, there wasn’t too much to be close with. Personalities and characters were still forming then. Our closeness could seem petty to older people, but it was real to us. It could be shallow to an adult, but a kiddie pool is deep to a kid.
Not all hope is lost. I’ve had some friendships where we’ve grown apart, fallen out of touch, got connected again, and become close again; but most of my friendships haven’t played out that way.
Do I want to be close with these “strangers” again? Yes! The ones I think of while writing this have grown up to become such wonderful people! But I don’t think they need me. New friends have come along.
Again, I may just be paranoid, but I don’t want to be the only one putting effort into a friendship that may not get deeper. I don’t want to risk making things more awkward.
It’s kind of like relationships…again. I guess I like that analogy. Some people can’t be friends after a break-up. Certain circumstances don’t allow for anything but casual, generic, surface conversations. An appropriate distance becomes the expected courtesy to replace the intimacy that was once had.
“Yeah, well, it’s great seeing you again. Take care.”
I am now “Nia.” Just Nia. At least my name is remembered. I take what I get.
I’ll have to be content with the mere memories of these strangers.