When I was 16, there was a boy who kind of loved me. It was only kind-of; I annoyed him, too. And maybe this would’ve been just a little nothing-thing except I kind of (absolutely) loved him back, (perhaps not in the same way), and he annoyed me too (perhaps not in the same way), but anyway, the bottom line was, if you ignored the teen wiggles, we loved each other.
We spent a lot of time together. Not as anything other than friends: he had a girlfriend and I had a boyfriend and his girlfriend was a grumpy creature, but my boyfriend was the absolute beans and I was head-over in love. The two boys were best friends and we all studied together, so we hung out as a band of three and it was one of the happiest times of my life. They taught me to run up hills and we stood on mountaintops together.
They made me laugh and they made me think. They challenged me. They made me want to be a better person.
I wanted it to last forever, but it didn’t. My b/f went to college a long way away and we grew apart (not enough to not fling our arms around one another a decade later when we met by accident in the wet evening streets of London, but that’s another story). My friend also went to college and we trekked up there sometimes to sit out on the moors all night on New Year’s Eve, melting our trainers in the fire while our toes still froze, or to clamber up onto roofs to smoke and look out over the city, or walk – just walk – and talk (although too often the best things were left unsaid), the two of us alone or maybe with other friends, whatever, the point is, we were together. Sometimes we just listened to music – he had impeccable taste in music. And then he vanished.
His reasons were nothing to do with me; he didn’t owe me an explanation. I accepted that, but missed him forever. He said once, we met at the wrong time of life; we should have met in ten years’ time, and he pointed at a bridge and said, we should meet there in ten years. Ten years later I stood on the bridge for an hour, but he wasn’t there. (I didn’t expect him to be, but couldn’t not.) One day he called me and left a message, but someone forgot to pass it on until it was too late (the days before mobiles). Bittersweet.
He travelled around the world and it was OK – we had our memories of the friendship and I enjoyed mine. I hope he enjoyed his.
A long, long time later, I met someone who for a moment reminded me of both of them; someone who challenged me, who didn’t necessarily like me but who made me think, made me try to be better – someone I enjoyed talking with, who had the ability to make me change my mind. Someone with impeccable taste in music, who wasn’t afraid to run in the rain. Of course the best things were never said, of course it was the wrong time, and we didn’t know one another, but a few fleeting moments reminded me of the friendships that built me. And then, of course, life moved on.
This is the song for the friend I lost a long time ago. He gave it to me when I was 16 and he was 17, and because of all the things left unsaid, it frustrated him that I never “got it”. But I did get it. I got all of it, and I loved all of it, too.
It almost makes me smile; my friends would’ve mocked this blog mercilessly (it is a stupid thing), but they don’t come here. I will have to be teased another day.