Anatomy of a Friendship

From the age of 12 to 19, I had a best friend… Let’s call her Kathy. I met her in school and for a while we shared everything: our dreams, crushes on cute guys, all of our free time… Kathy had a very dominant personality, and I now realize that with her around, mine all but disappeared. I had very little opinions, likes and dislikes that weren’t hers. Fortunately, she was a good kid so following her leadership didn’t land me in trouble.

Just before I turned 19, though, I started dating my first boyfriend – let’s call him Jim. Jim was a friend of Kathy first (I met him through her), and in my very romantic ideals on friendship I didn’t want to risk losing her for a guy, so I actually asked her first if she would mind me and Jim dating. Her answer was the sign of things to come: “Go ahead, I’ll just make new friends”. Kathy wasn’t good at sharing friends. When she wanted to go out with you, she didn’t take no for an answer. So as I started spending more time with Jim, Kathy (who was still single) and I drifted apart. She got closer to her friends from University, where we had just started different programs.

When Jim and I broke up, Kathy and I grew closer again. But not long after that, we both went on a one-year trip, me in BC, her in Europe. When we came back home, she was still single but I had met Zak (although we lived a long-distance relationship for that first year). I would call Kathy, but she was always out with her other friends. I kept in touch with her, but something was obviously missing between us. Then I moved to Vancouver and although I would call her and visit with her every time I went back home, it had become very awkward.

There are friends you can call once in a while and visit irregularly but still feel close to. Kathy was not one of them. Every time I saw her, I felt uneasy asking about a life I had once shared. We didn’t call or email in between those twice yearly visits. I would come out of our meetings depressed. I knew there was no real friendship there anymore, but I found it hard to cut the cord. I guess it was the main link to my teenage years and dreams. Maybe I didn’t want to grow up just yet. Maybe it was too big of a step towards admitting that I was gone somewhere else, that I had left – maybe for good. One day, on my way to yet another disappointing meeting with Kathy, I had a good chat with my older – and sometimes wiser – brother, who explained to me that it was normal for friends to drift apart as they grew older and that I shouldn’t see it as a failure. It helped me make a decision. About two years after I moved here, I went back home and decided that my schedule was too tight to waste time having lunch with someone I didn’t really feel like seeing. I didn’t call Kathy. I haven’t seen her in the three years since.

Turns out, last summer, my son was born on Kathy’s birthday. So I thought of her a lot since then. I thought of sending her and other old friends a note to let them know I had had a baby. But upon close examination of my motives, I figured I was just looking for an occasion to brag about my oh-so-cute baby, so I didn’t.

Then last week, I saw her on MSN… We hadn’t used MSN forever and I didn’t even realize Kathy was still on my contact list. She was. And the photo she had there was that of her with a baby boy. Funny coincidence, isn’t it? He must be a bit younger than my son. Again, I feel like maybe I should drop her a note. Ask how old her boy is, how things are going. But I’m not sure if my motives are noble – maybe it’s just unhealthy curiosity doubled with a hope that my son is cuter, more advanced, better than hers? Part of me thinks that we are grown up now, and although I feel like I was right to stop seeing her (and she never contacted me either – ever), I (and therefore, you) have only one side of the story. Maybe I did something she didn’t like without realizing it – we never talked about our issues. Maybe now that we have something this big in common – motherhood – we could reconnect?

But then, we probably wouldn’t. And I would most likely be disappointed.

Maybe I’ll think about it some more…

One Response to “Anatomy of a Friendship”

  1. Anne Says:

    C’est vrai qu’il est parfois difficile de savoir quand mettre fin à une amitié. On est particulièrement confronté à cette problématique quand on habite au loin. Chaque fois que je me rends à Québec ou Montréal, c’est la course folle pour essayer de voir tous ceux que je souhaite visiter. Cela force à éliminer des gens. Parfois on est éliminé par d’autre et on a de la peine. Toutefois, envoyer un courriel ne peut pas faire de tort. Alors si tu en as envie, n’analyse pas trop tes motivations et laisse la spontanéité prendre le dessus. Tu verras bien.