My favorite thing about college- or just the general becoming-an-adult process- is this: you get to decide who you want to be. All of those times that you thought I can do that better, I won’t make that mistake, or I really will be someone? This is your chance to put those thoughts into real deal action. No matter how much you (or I) might try to flee from that reality, at the end of the day, your life is completely yours now; your decisions belong to you in ways they never have before. For me, that meant deciding to go to class, not to date, and to get plugged in at the right church. For you, it’s different. I’m sure it is.
But it’s also the hardest part. We’re all different than we were; I know I am. I look back at myself a year ago and smile, because I see bursts of who I would become- fleeting dashes of color that allude to the eprson who is waiting around the corner. I couldn’t really become that person, though, until I had the chance to not be that person. That is, until I was actually in control of some decision- only then could I really make the choice that was right for me, and the sum of those choices is me (I should go ahead and point out that I don’t always make the right decision. In fact, quite a bit of the time, I make the wrong decision and that shapes me, too.) But this is kind of beating around the bush. The point is that we all change in college, or after high school, or when we become (or are supposed to become) adults- different words for the same thing. You have looked me dead in the eyes and told me how very much I’ve changed. In fact, you said, you don’t even recognize me. That’s okay. Sometimes I surprise myself, too. You’ve changed, too, and when I click through the pictures you’ve posted online, or chat you on the instant messenger, it blatantly slaps me in the face: I don’t know you anymore, either.
And that’s what’s unimaginably difficult to comprehend. I can’t wrap my mind around it: we’re not friends anymore. You don’t know the most important things about me these days, and when people question me about you (they just assume things are the way they were), I don’t have the answers anymore. I shrug and say, “Honestly, I haven’t spoken to her in awhile.” And when I say that, I have to gulp a little because I just can’t quite believe those words are coming out of my mouth; for so long, you were the person I knew better than myself. Doesn’t it seem strange to you? Coming home shoves this realization out of the back corner it hides in while I’m here and displays it in the bright sunlight. The minute that familiarity falls around me, I start thinking of you. Suddenly, I’m sitting on your couch eating an egg sandwich, or I’m laughing at you, hanging out in my passenger seat, or sometimes, I’m lying in bed with you, holding you while you sob, because, well, that was my job. But I’m not; you’re not coming to visit and we’re not hanging out at all, and I know that’s for the best. We’ve gone around and around, and I want to get off the carousel- don’t you? I’ve accepted it and I have moved on and I am truly happy- I promise.
It’s just that sometimes I miss you. Sometimes I wish you’d be waiting for me when I got home or that you’d come visit like you’d always promised you would. Sometimes, for a split second, when I see my phone light up, I feel certain it’s you because man, I haven’t heard your voice in forever. But it never is, and I suppose that’s for the best. You’ve moved on too, and who am I to stand in the way of that? I suppose the point of this is to let you know- if you didn’t- that I haven’t forgotten you. That sometimes my soul aches to be with you. Every now and then, I get that lump in my throat and a quick rush of hot tears because we didn’t make it work, and I feel like I failed you. Occasionally, I drive our old routes and nobody else understands, and my heart trembles at the memories. And I remember you- I remember egg sandwiches and fried pickles, I remember singing in the car and dancing in your room, I remember getting off work or finished with school or out of bed and driving to where you were. I remember fighting for you and with you. I remember defending you and having your back and I remember you having mine. I remember spending hours upon hours where we weren’t necessarily supposed to be (usually the library), but we did it so we could be together. And I remember all of the other people who helped do all of that, too. I know that that was a time in our lives that has ended, and I thank you, because you were the only person who fit so easily into being my best friend. It’s over, though, and that mold has changed- and you don’t fit anymore. In the same breath, I’m not who you need, either. Far from it. We changed, kid. But you should know- I remember, and I won’t ever forget.