Last night I tried, unsuccessfully, to get in touch with an old friend. I had heard, through my mom’s informing me of a brief conversation she’d had with said old friend’s mom, that he was not in a good place right now… personally speaking.
Being the amazing life-long friend that I am, I decided to ignore the fact that we haven’t spoken in about a year and send him a text.
“Hey stranger! It’s been a while, how are you?”
A few minutes later, I got this response:
“Who are you, I want answers.”
So he still hadn’t added my new number to his phone. Fine, I was over it at this piont (or at least over it enough to pretend to be over it), so I bit back the resentment and responded casually
“It’s Amber, you goon! I would be mad at you for failing to add me to your phone, but it’s honestly too much effort. So you get off easy this time!”
No response. A good ten minutes passed, or longer, I don’t remember… enough time, anyway, to inform me that he would not be responding. I was just about to mentally move away from the situation, contended that I had at least tried… but I was on a mission. In the past, I would have been too offended to be able to keep talking to him, to throw my pride under the train and run with it. But things had changed. I no longer felt about him the way I once did. It no longer mattered what he thought of me, so I tried again.
“So… how are you?”
“Good.” He replied. “Mastering hop-skotch down J street.”
“Nice.” I said, remaining light and breezy. “Have you fallen yet.”
“Very nimble.” He answered. “What’s up?”
Hmph. He knew me too well. Light and breezy were never really my thing and, well… it had been a year.
I fretted over my response for a couple of minutes. Was I really just going to offer him the proverbial shoulder to cry on, with no reason that he knew of to offer it? No, I thought. Better not. If there’s one thing that annoys the crap out of me when I’m going through something, it’s random people wanting to “help”. So I deflected. I decided to ask him for something instead and, looking back, to paint myself the way I saw him in my head.
“Right. So listen, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind me using you as a sounding board sometime. It’d be nice to talk to someone who isn’t involved in my life.”
“Why talk to someone not in your life? Why not someone close to you? I’m not adverse to talking to you, but I’m just curious. It doesn’t make sense.”
No, it did not. Especially as I had no real desire to talk to him about anything.
“Yah,” I said “I dunno. You may be right. It was just a thought.”
“What was the thought?”
He asked, and just as I was about to respond, fired off another text:
“Like, the exact thought before you sent me a message. Be honest.”
Okay, so he had caught me. Clearly, I was not going to be able to manipulate him into letting me give him what I thought he needed. It had been a while since anyone had called me out on being unintentionally false. It was strange, but in a weird way, kind of nice. I could tell the truth, I was being left no alternative.
“OK” I conceded “In all honesty, I heard you weren’t doing that great. I realized it had been a while, so I thought I would check in. Sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry” He replied.
After that, he asked me what had been said, why I was attempting to, as he put it “play archeology.” I told him what my mom had said, and informed him that the reason I was asking was because I “still considered him a friend, and not out of some strange desire to get the dirt on his life.” His reply was loaded, strange, and poetic. So much so, that at first I thought he was quoting a song. When I asked him, he said that he wasn’t.
“I can’t decide if you’re caring or crazy. Like some lazarus leaning warily at the edge of a tomb. Should I make my presence known? Too late or too soon?”
I asked him whether or not he wanted to talk. Told him that “too late or too soon”, it didn’t really matter.
But he didn’t respond.
I quite literally felt the moment pass about five minutes after my parting text. I knew he would not respond.
But this time, I had tried my best.