the contract

I finally had my ketubah framed. That’s the Jewish wedding contract.

It was the first time I have ever had something framed. It was a bigger deal than I thought it would be. In the frame shop, this little man with round glasses like Harry Potter kept tugging open another drawer full of colorful samples. Every manner of delicately, elegantly aged. It made me want to frame everything, until he told me the prices.

I read the ketubah, since it was lying there on the work table. I forget already what it says. Something about commitment and love, I’m sure.

My eyes went immediately to the signatures on the bottom, and I remembered signing my name, there in the basement of the place where only minutes later I would barely make it down the aisle without tripping over the front of my enormous dress. My name is unbalanced, hesitant. Not because I am hesitant about marriage, but because I have never learned how to properly sign. Bear’s is more graceful. And then the witnesses, his friend, who has since moved to the suburbs to live in a house so big that I can’t keep track of the number of bathrooms, and my closest friend at the time, a woman I met almost the first day I arrived in this city.

She was sitting across the conference table from me at our departmental orientation, wearing a big necklace that she toyed absently with. She was very thin and had read more than everyone else combined, and I was intimidated by her.

For some reason (it might have had something to do with the fact that we were the only women there), we became friends, and then good friends, and then we were together constantly. She would sleep at my apartment after we’d talked into the night. Do you know the kind of friend who there is always more to say to? It’s something about the way they listen. She would tilt her head thoughtfully. She was so smart that she could find meaning in anything. So little topics could be stretched to become big topics and big topics could lie lightly across the top of whole months, years, even.

Her signature at the bottom of my wedding contract is so fine and small that it is almost invisible. It sits directly beneath my unruly, clumsy one. We are bound together here, her and me and Bear and the friend in the suburbs. 

In the framing shop, I tried to pull my eyes up from it, because she is gone.

 

She is gone as though there was a tragic accident.

But there wasn’t.

There is only a mystery that wisps tantalizing coils through my daily mind, fades away to nothing and returns with a sudden vengeance to yank me back into it. “The mystery of the disappearing friend.”

She left my life without saying goodbye. Without an explanation.

I take guesses, and there are enough clues to feed them– one of her parents got sick. She was so busy with that. I offered to help, but she wanted none of it. I don’t know how far that went, but Facebook publishes evidence that she is in the world, that she is talking to other friends, that she is laughing about some comic and headed out to see some show. So there must be more to the story than the parent.

It happened when I moved to Brooklyn, a little over a year ago, that she made her neat exit. To be fair, she was all the way up at the top of Manhattan, and the A train gets slow and weary up there, and no one ever seems to want to fix it.

But really, I can’t figure it out.

This friendship that was and then wasn’t, without a fight or even a noticeable slipping apart. It was a clean, careful severing. Her precision was surgical, as in all things she set her fiercely sharp mind to.

I wrote and wrote and wrote to her. But she never wrote back.

So I don’t know.

I try to tuck her away. To let it go. To remember our long walks in Riverside Park and when we lay on the grass in Bryant Park at midnight with the sycamore trees twining branches against the brilliant lights. I want to remember those things, and I want to let her have her reasons, and imagine that they are good ones, even if I don’t know them. I try to swallow the bitterness.

Here I am, in this new home, and I think moving makes me sentimental, maybe. This shift into a slightly different stage of life makes think of what I’m missing and where I might be going. Every time you go somewhere new, you leave things behind and acquire new things, of course, but there is so much I carry with me, secretly. So much that I’ve folded new relationships and spaces and ideas over, but it is still there. And you can’t really replace a person completely, I don’t think. You can call her a bitch and roll your eyes and shrug and say whatever, whatever, so she didn’t need me any more. Her goddamn loss.

But that’s just strutting and bluffing and wearing heavy boots with your saggy jeans and your wife-beater.

There isn’t space to mourn friends who have decided to leave you. Mourning is reserved for breakups and death. But I think I brought the loss of her friendship with me, at the bottom of the green trunk that sits on the rug I agonized over in the living room. And I will walk by it every day, often without even noticing.

Maybe I’ll never find out what happened, if anything happened at all. Maybe one day she’ll talk to me again, and she’ll explain.

For now, I will find the right wall to hang my ketubah on, and when I look at it, I will read a complicated story about love and commitment. About growing up and making enormous choices. About the way that life moves forward, anyway, no matter what. I will look at Bear’s steady signature, filling his whole line, and I will be so thankful.

*  *  *

Has someone ever inexplicably left your life? How did you handle it?

Unroast: Today I love the way I look against my new colors and patterns. I took some pictures to show you:

 

 

 

 

53 Comments »

Kate on August 9th 2012 in friendship, life, marriage

53 Responses to “the contract”

  1. Melanie responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    I don’t know if that is a yellow shirt or a dress, all I know is that it is yellow-fabulous on you!

    I have had friendships do that. I just figure we were meant to move on to different things. It still stings from time to time and my obsessive mind sometimes thinks, “You need closure.” But I don’t.

    Is that foil wallpaper in your last pic? I love it.

  2. Kaye responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    That happened to me. I thought we were soul mates. Then one day she wasn’t there. I, too, know she’s out there, but I can only suppose I became . . . unnecessary? Who knows?

    It’s been almost 20 years and I still think of her.

  3. Lora responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    That has happened to me as well. It has been really hard for me to let this woman go, but I tell myself that I deserve solid, stable friendships that don’t break with the slightest wind. Most of the time, I can convince myself that I’m better off without the kind of instability and heartbreak that a fragile friendship can bring…most of the time :)

  4. Anna responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Made me misty. I am going through a similar experience. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Robert Timms responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    The photographs.Hysterical.Made me laugh out-loud.I like the gold door.

  6. lik_11 responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    I’m a friendship abandoner. It’s happened a few times in my life- and there are few that I regret leaving. Really- only one. I never gave her any explanation of my departure, but she hurt my feelings too many times. Every time I’ve run into her, she’s been the epitome of elegance about the situation… though she never asked what happened. So many times I’ve thought about writing her, to try and rekindle the relationship…but how do I explain my thought processes from 10 years ago. Would it still matter?

  7. dee responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    I had a friend once who became my friend at a time in my life when I found it hard to make friends who were all mine because I had a husband and kids and friends take a lot of time. This woman cried to me once that she had no friends and I said I will be your friend and I fell in love and we were friends for a long time and something happened with our sons. They got in trouble together – serious trouble and then she wasn’t my friend anymore because she said it hurt too much to see me and know my son, whom she loved like her own, was suffering the consequences of something her son had been a part of. But I never had the slightest inclination to think she might have any responsiblity for the trouble and eventually everything worked out but our friendship has never recovered and it hurts and I’ll never understand.

  8. Sophie responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    Thank you for putting this into words.

  9. Maya responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    Funny timing- we also just got our ketubah framed. Our witnesses were a former boyfriend of mine (who has been a friend for years since, and a friend of my husband’s as well- but still), and a family friend of my husband’s. So far, only pre-wedding drama involved in those relationships…

  10. cee responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    I’ve done the cutting off before. I’m not proud of it, but I also am not sure how to have handled it better?

    With one friend, she was simply too unreliable and we had drastically different priorities. Anytime she started dating a guy she would cancel plans last minute (her “boy” was suddenly available so she was going to hang with him instead), and drop off the earth for her friends. She had been called out on it before, by many friends, and it hadn’t changed her behavior. The most recent time it happened, when she got in touch after postponing/cancelling/flaking for 8 months, I realized I hadn’t missed her. So I just didn’t respond to her emails/phone calls/texts. It seemed a little harsh, but not as harsh as if I said “I think you are flaky and our priorities are too misaligned.” Because it isn’t that she’s a bad person, she’s just not the friend I need her to be. It’s not her fault that she can’t meet my demands. So why make her feel bad? Instead now she can just assume I’m a bitch, or whatever, and I’m fine with that.

    With another friend, it was after my parents died suddenly and I just couldn’t handle her emotional needs. She would try to “be there” for me but we would end up talking about her issues that I simply did not have the empathetic reserves for at that time. So I stopped responding to requests to hang out. Again, I think it was nicer than saying that I couldn’t handle her drama. And we weren’t that close to begin with, so I don’t think it was a big deal to her.

    I don’t know if I should have acted differently . . . I don’t really know if there was a better way to do it. I’m not great at confrontations, and if I’ve decided that I don’t want someone in my life then it means I’ve done some really hard thinking about it for my own self and won’t change my mind. I don’ t really want to hurt a person by telling them what I don’t like about them, especially if I know it won’t change their behavior. And sometimes people just grow apart. Sometimes your life is in too different of a place, suddenly, and it’s too hard to go back to the way the friendship was. I don’t know, is there a good protocol for ending a friendship?

  11. Katherine responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Your ketubah is so beautiful! I just got married two weeks ago—I have a sad little certificate from the state of Washington hanging on my fridge. It seriously looks like the certificate I got for completing swim lessons when I was six.

    And where did you get that awesome rug?? I’m desperate for one to cover up our apartment’s 30 year old brown grandma carpet, peppered with past tenants’ hookah burns. I’m not very stylish though, and don’t know where to look. I keep liking only $900 ones. I am un-stylish but with very expensive taste. And I’m rambling.

  12. claire responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Friendship is a fragile event, that at times just decides it is time to retire. On my favorite subject, I love the photos of my favorite person, in the whole wide world.
    So glad you framed your ketubah, Hugs and stuff from CRF

  13. Jodi responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. I have also been dumped heartlessly by a friend and I would have much rather had her give me the straight story, than what she did which was unfriend me on Facebook after 4 1/2 years of friendship. That is total chickensh*t. I don’t care if you hate confrontation or not, sometimes you just need to get over yourself and be a decent human being!

  14. katilda responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    your timing is perfect with this one…just yesterday i discovered that several of my close friends from my junior year of college are, for some reason, no longer my friends on facebook. what? i know. i always feel fiercely nostalgic for the memories i have with them, and it’s weird to think they don’t feel the same. like, they are a big part of me and i’m just a passing breeze to them? it’s the strangest feeling. maybe some people just aren’t as loyal? or don’t get as attached?

  15. cee responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    (I just wanted to add to my earlier comment that if either of my friends who I cut ties with had asked for an explanation or conveyed some hurt, I would’ve talked to them about it. As it was they just eventually stopped contacting me when I stopped responding. Which probably means we weren’t as close in the first place, or that they knew the reason I wasn’t responding. Just wanted to put that out there, that if you’ve asked your friend why and conveyed the sadness about it that you have in this post, and she hasn’t responded to that, that is whack. Sorry for the threadjack.)

  16. San D responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    I moved all of my life, so I can take people or leave people easily. Harsh, I know, but it is in my DNA. I am a real earnest friend who bends over backwards, gives more than my share, and whose heart is full. That said, I know when the friendship is exhausting, or damaging, or hurtful and will bow out. Usually I try to resolve these issues, but by then the ‘friend’ is usually clueless or “it is what it is”. Life is too short. Your ex-friend might not be of my mindset, but for her the friendship wasn’t meeting her needs (whatever they might be) or she would still be in it.

  17. Kat responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    I’ve felt this… I’m not particularly good at making close relationships with women, most of the time. I have one friendship now that I feel is going through an awkward unraveling and I’m not entirely sure why. I have ideas but that’s all they are.

    There were only ever 2 other friendships that were something I felt was so close it would never end that seemingly have. The older one, I know why it ended, and it makes me sad, but I’ve mostly let it go. The other one… I don’t entirely know why it has all but ended. I am in the position of occasionally writing or receiving a note and then not hearing anything, for perhaps another year, and the notes say a lot of not very much. I miss that friendship very much.

    Most of the time, I try not to dwell, and to be a Grown Up, and let them go. But sometimes, when I wish I was better with other girls… I wish I knew what it was I was doing wrong, so that I could fix myself.

  18. Rose responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Life runs on, and sometimes the currents can pull us in different directions. We can spend our energy trying to swim upstream, or we can sail on to new seas.

  19. Hunter4086 responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    I like how this is about you and your friend and not explicitly your husband, although you start out by talking about your wedding contract. I hope to be as open-hearted as this one day, acknowledging and honoring friends right up there alongside my partner. It takes an expansive heart.

    Anyhow.

    You have a lucky trait which tells me you’ll continue to be a brilliant writer always! You can look past the obvious for the subtle and you can experience a real passion about it – a possessiveness for all the minute little pieces that might stay lost.

    The silent, vanishing friend or loved one is an inexplicable thing.

    My dad moved away and stopped being in touch when I was 11. As a daughter I think this is totally random and rather fucked; as a writer I am curious about his reasons. I appreciate that it’s made me harder around the edges and more aware of the strange and not necessarily renewable patterns of love.

  20. morgaine responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    “Mourning is reserved for breakups and death.”

    Breakups aren’t just for romantic relationships. I consider friendship dissolution a breakup. Perhaps framing it that way would make the healing easier.

  21. Cate responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    I thought I was the only one! I had a close friend from 13-25 and I adored her. We were friends thru school, bad boyfriends, a surprise baby, first jobs, etc. Then one day after I hadnt seen her for a few months (we no longer lived in the same city) my brother asked why I didn’t go to her wedding!! I’d met her boyfriend and was shocked!!

    A few years later I found out thru the grapevine that there had been a “scandal” with her family and she didn’t want to be around me because she thought I knew their secret and it bothered her. Truth? It’s 15 years later and I have no idea what the secret was (and don’t care – everyone is entitled to their secrets). But she broke my heart after all those years of supporting and laughing and caring for each other.

  22. Caroline responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    I’ve had (girl) friends come and go all my life. More going than coming really, most without explanation. It started when I was a child and my “absolute best friend forever” who I had known for many years suddenly found a new best friend after I moved (not that far away) and switched schools. She’s still friends with that girl and her facebook is always full of references to the two of them being “best friends since they were babies.” I feel strangely erased. Somewhat identical stories followed over the years with different friends and at 24 I am so guarded against female friends in general that I refuse to make an effort anymore. As a result I have no (as in zero) female friends that I can really call friends. Yes I have a wonderful family and a wonderful fiance but I have moments when I feel like something is missing.

    My mom had many miscarriages when I was younger and I ended up being the only child that she was ever able to birth. Sometimes I feel like I have a sister somewhere out there who never made it. In a strange way I feel like maybe if she had been born my atitude towards interacting with women would be different. Most times I tell myself that I’m crazy and not to dwell upon it too much.

    On a different note I did want to point out that so many of us here comment about these lost friendships and somewhere in our rant we include a statement like “she unfriended me on Facebook” or “when I check up on her on Facebook I know that she’s just ignoring me.” I just find it so incredibly crazy that we live in a world where we are mourning the loss of friendships yet are so indirectly “connected” to all these people. It seems like there is no such thing as someone falling off the face of the Earth these days. They just fall out of our lives but we are still so very much aware of their existance. Maybe that makes these lost friendships hurt even more?

  23. Bridget responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    Jay was a couple of years younger than I — a lot when you’ve just graduated from college. I knew it wouldn’t last, but we were having fun. After about two months he surprised me at work with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and said he’d pick me up after work. But he never showed and never called. Ever.

    I didn’t call him. I wasn’t interested in hearing a lame excuse. I didn’t have a lot invested, and was more curious than anything else, so I figured I’d keep him guessing as well. But sometimes I still wonder what happened.

    I’ve had a number of gradual departures that have been painful in their awkwardness. Sometimes I just wish people would just say what they think and get it over with. I’d like to think this would be true with close friends, but when people get offended it can create an insurmountable barrier. Strangely it’s sometimes visible only from one side.

  24. Alpana Trivedi responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    Kate, I can completely relate. I tend to mourn friendships as well. Back in December, I got my facebook account because I best friend twisted my arm to get one. Then he’s the one who ended up not only unfriending me, but blocking me. We’d had a falling out before, but we had resolved it. This was totally unexpected. He didn’t tell me what he was mad about. He just blocked me. I get the feeling I get to be too much for people. But it’s sad when people disappear without any explanation. Caroline, you have a good point when you said that for all this technology, we’re more disconnected emotionally.

  25. Mariko responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    Story of my life. Sometimes I have been the one to cut ties, others have cut ties with me. It happened a lot in high school, but since I’m in college right now, I have become less concerned with it. Things happen for a reason, I believe.

    I don’t invest myself in people as I once did. I think that it might be a symptom of Gen Y, we don’t “commit” ourselves to people, places, or things. We are always ready to pick up and go, it seems.

    Great post, thank you and I can totally relate, as usual.

  26. J responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    Kate your eyes are the hugest ever and you are absolutely GORGEOUS; your smile makes me smile.
    (I’ve been thinking that forever, and I just had to say it.)
    I love the patterns in your new house too!

  27. Erin H. responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    This happened with my (former) best friend several years ago. Well, actually I had two best friends– B and C. They were sisters. We became friends in high school and were inseparable for years. When I was in college, C died very suddenly. It was the most painful, devastating experience of my life. B and I clung to each other for support, and for awhile, we were even closer than we’d been before. Then one day we had a stupid falling out (it was my fault), and though we both apologized and she said everything was fine, she just stopped talking to me. After all the years and everything we’d been through together, she ended it over a silly fight.

    Sometimes I think maybe us being together was too much of a reminder that C was gone, and that B found it too painful to deal with. Who knows. But I still think of her and miss her friendship almost every day.

  28. Bri responded on 09 Aug 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    Thank you,

    Thank you.

    Unbelievably cathartic to read someone else’s words expressing my heart.

  29. Lynn responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 7:08 am #

    Kate,

    I swear, you have window into my life or my brain. My circle of friends has lost two people this year. The first started to pull away when she had an affair and separated from her husband. One by one she invented some reason that she was angry with each one of us that was really a maifestation of her own guilt and exited our lives, and she did not go quietly or neatly, there was lots of hurt, lots of harsh words, lots of yuck. The second began to pull away when she moved out of state and married a man who turned out to be very possessive and controlling and one by one stopped talking to most of our mutual friends, though she does still talk to me, and my fiance. However, just yesterday, she told me that she would not be coming to our wedding in September because she is not comfortable being around our old circle of friends anymore. Even though this woman is still technically in my life, I still grieve for her like I lost her, because she is not the girl I remember, the girl we all knew is gone……it actually really comforted me to read this post today, thank you <3

  30. Kate responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 10:17 am #

    @Melanie
    The concept of closure is so interesting. I like how you put it– sometimes you think you need it, but you don’t. How do you know you don’t?
    Maybe we don’t need it as much as we think we do.
    And there definitely is some type of foil involved in the wallpaper.

  31. Kate responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 10:18 am #

    @Kaye and Lora
    Oh god, 20 years. It never totally goes away, does it?
    I also tell myself I deserve a different kind of friendship, but the confusing thing is, I thought she was that.

  32. Kate responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 10:20 am #

    @Maya
    I hope it stays that way!

  33. Kate responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 10:26 am #

    @cee and lik_11
    I get this. I think everyone has had to walk away from a friendship or two when they became damaging and destructive and hurtful. I’ve done this, too. But these descriptions and my own experience can’t help but make me wonder what offense I unwittingly committed to drive her away. Because all of these cases involve something that the other person did, some behavior that became intolerable. So what was mine? I keep running over the possibilities. Was I not smart enough? (I think that, because she is so incredibly smart). Was it because I got married while she was breaking up? Was it because we just lived too far away after a while and she was too busy and I wasn’t worth the effort anymore? Was I rude somehow? Did I not email her as much as she emailed me? My mind turns over endless possibilities, but nothing sticks out. I think I have to just stop thinking about it

  34. Kate responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 10:31 am #

    @morgaine
    Me too. But it seems like that’s not a common definition.

  35. Kate responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 10:34 am #

    @Caroline
    I can’t help but hope you find your lost sister in someone else someday. Or at least write a book about it, because I think that would make a good book.

    And interesting point about facebook. I feel like it sometimes holds us in this forced orbit around each other– we’re stuck at a certain distance, still influencing each other subtly, never able to touch again.

    That got really unnecessarily mushy and poetic for some reason. Sorry.

  36. Kate responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 10:35 am #

    @J
    Thank you!! I wasn’t expecting this here, and the compliments made me grin in surprise.

  37. Kate responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 10:37 am #

    @Erin H
    I read this comment several times and every time I felt like it hit me over the head. I am so sorry this happened. Even though you were telling a different and very short story here, the fact that C died kept on shocking me. I’m so sorry.

  38. Janet T responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Kate, your wall colors and rug are gorgeous- you are doing well. What were you so worried about?

    My sister has been, (I thought) a dear friend forever- until she did something repeatedly that I told her bothered me (ah, the truth!) and I have not heard from her since. So I guess she did not value our relationship like I thought we both did. I thought if I told her how I felt we could work thru this, rather than just have it simmering underneath-acting like everything was A-OK. Boy was I wrong. But in the end, I’m glad I said what I said, rather than constantly compromising who I am and what I was feeling. I’m not one of those people who just says what she wants and leaves everything wiped out in my path of destructive truthfulness- I’m the good girl who plays nice and gets along. But this persona gets a little tighter every year.
    Everyone comes into and moves out of your life for a reason. What would you have had to change in your life to keep the friend? Spend less time writing, less time with Bear? No regrets, Kate, no regrets- be grateful for what you had and move forward.

  39. Aurora responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 11:11 am #

    I still want my freshman year friend to come back and tell me why she decided to never talk to me again and suddenly cut ties. What did I do? Am I a bad person and people just aren’t telling me? Etc. (Or, at least, give me a chance to tell her what she did to me and how that felt.)

  40. Bethany responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Maybe I can offer a different perspective…

    I’ve been that friend. I’ve been the girl who goes cold for no apparent reason. I’ve done it to numerous friends and guys that I’ve dated…and all of them were people I actually liked. Luckily, I don’t do it anymore, but just last summer I didn’t speak to one of my favorite coworkers for months. And I couldn’t even articulate why.

    It’s hard to explain. For me, I had a difficulty maintaining intimacy. I could achieve it, sure, but after a while it became uncomfortable/scary/painful for me. I cared too much, I worried that I was not important, I felt too close, I began to imagine the “end”…and I just went ahead and pull the plug. It relieved the anxiety that I had about having close relationships and having them end. I didn’t feel the need with acquantinces (sure I misspelled that) or more casual friends…just people I feared could hurt me.

    I was (and still am) very forgiving of most things…but if I felt that I had been overlooked or disregarded? It would wound me terribly. I would feel crushed. I would never express my hurt…that would just be embarassing…I would just walk away and secretly savor their confusion and inevitable attempts to reach out or figure out what was up.

  41. Kande responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Friendships usually begin and are sustained through two main truths: (1) convenience and (2) at least one thing in common. When one (or both) of those truths end, then usually so does the friendship. Think about every friendship and you’ll see it to be true – why were you friends in the first place, or why did you remain friends? Because you either had something (or a lot of somethings) in common, and because you were able to keep interacting (so it remained convenient).

    That doesn’t mean that long-distant friendships, much like long- distance relationships are impossible – but I would bet that even with the huge technology advances, it is still improbable. As no matter the method of “technology” interaction it is not nor will ever be the same as face-to-face. Of course some people may cry foul to my reasoning with close long distance friendships of their own, or friends they rarely see yet when they do it is as if no time has passed. But I would argue that is not typical and for that to occur there must have been a rock solid foundation in place, the one thing that over-rides time, distance, and things in common – genuine, inexplicable, but obvious love.

    I have had lots of various friends through the various stages in my life, but none that lasted throughout the years. We never parted through any harsh means, but merely drifted apart in the way that is easiest to do when separated either through distance, time, or diverging interests and priorities. My closest current friends are those who respected and understood the various changing demands on my time – and me of theirs – and rather than being resentful we traded quantity time for quality time. But there are also people I am currently friends with where convenience plays a large role – such as work friends and neighbours. People where I am sure if we ever moved or I left my job we would no longer be in touch. But rather than look back on interactions with them as a waste (since obviously not “quality” friendship) I value the immediate joy they bring to my life and don’t worry about the future.

    Knowing that now and for the rest of my life I will have the friendship of my spouse, my kids (once adults, after I am done raising them), and the select few of my personal inner circle that I know will always bridge the gaps of distance, time, commanalities and any other potential obstacle – because our friendship’s foundation is genuine love – and love has no barriers that are impossible to overcome.

    Good luck in finding your peace … and if it helps you to move on, to paraphrase an “aha” moment I had once – try to remeber that most friendships are the icing and gravy in our lives, while our family, spouses, and a few select true-blue friends are the meat and cake. Sure icing and gravy are delicious and can make meals seem more exciting than they usually tend to be – but personally I can live a lot easier without icing and gravy than without cake and meat – so that is where I choose to focus my time, energy, and thoughts.

  42. Sheryl responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    First, a friendship ending is totally a breakup. You get to grieve it the same way, if you need.

    What I find so tricky about friendships sometimes is that the expectations are so different. For example, one party might view the other as a cherished childhood friend who they love seeing every few months while the other party feels like being a cherished childhood friend means that there’s a serious level of day to day commitment to the relationship. And it is so, so easy, even when you start on the same page, to end up with two totally different sets of expectations for the friendship.

    I’ve definitely had painful friendship breakups, but for the one that stands out in my mind I’m just glad it’s over. I couldn’t be friends on her terms (terms that I didn’t even understand) and I never really understood where her expectations came from and how they related to our actual history of friendship together. So, no longer friends. (Although strangely, I still feel like if she called me in the middle of the night with an issue I’d be there which is my simplest definition of who I consider a friend. I don’t know that she’d do the same for me right now though.)

  43. San D responded on 10 Aug 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Just as an aside. I wear “key” jewelry alot. Because I feel that my key may open “your” lock. But I also know that my key doesn’t always open your lock, and that there is someone else whose key does. So it is with friendships..sometimes the keys just don’t fit anymore because the lock got changed.

  44. Jess responded on 11 Aug 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    Great post! I have struggled with this too – and it is heartbreaking and causes much self-doubt. You expressed this beautiful (and I thank my sister, Emily, for forwarding the link to your site!)

  45. Alma responded on 14 Aug 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    Hi Kate,

    New silent follower here! I too have never had much luck with friends. I feel as if I am too quick to trust and get comfortable with people and as soon as that happens people just get up and leave. I recognize that in the past I had huge expectations of what a real friend should be and that left me disappointed in any person I tried to befriend. I’ve since tried to be more open about any one, but I still struggle with feeling like I have a real friend. I mean, there are the really fun and nice coworkers, the funny classmates, the people who can have an occasional lunch with, but I’m still looking for that one (or two or three) friend who I can truly feel a real connection with (whatever that connection may be like). Thanks for an awesome post!

  46. Marlene responded on 17 Aug 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    Ahh yes, it has happened to me, too. It hurts. And the wondering “why? what did I do?” is just unrelenting. And, like you, the female witness that signed my Ketubah is gone from my life. I find that very strange. Although truth be told, I don’t miss that friend. But I do know why she left so it doesn’t bother me. It’s the lack of closure, I think, (with the first friend) that is the worst.

  47. Stephanie responded on 18 Aug 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    It hurts! I did grieve, for a lot longer than I thought I should. I’ve had friendships end when I move away, but the relationships always slipped away slowly. I had one friendship that ended so abruptly it was head spinning. No communication, no reason; but, like you, I could see via Facebook that life went on. I think that made it worse. I un-friended her because I didn’t want to see how great her life was without me in it. I still think of her, years later, and it bothers me– but not as much as it used to. We sometimes pass each other in the store and sometimes our eyes meet and sometimes we ignore each other. I hate not knowing what it is that turned her from me.

  48. Darcy responded on 19 Aug 2012 at 8:21 am #

    When I was 22, my best friend from college, the person to whom I was jokingly referred to for 4 years as being attached at the hip, the person that people would always ask me where she was if I went out without her, and if she was out without me, people would always ask her where I was, the person that was the other part of the mushed together version of our two names that people we knew called us, because they referred to us as a unit, she got married and didn’t invite me to the wedding and then moved across the ocean to another country, and she didn’t write back to any of my letters or ever send me any word of her new life.

    I didn’t know when she told me she was moving (about a week before she did, such a shock to be so late to get such big news). I found out only one tiny scrap of information about her from another college friend, and then from another mutual college friend who I asked about my dear friend, I was just told that she got married and didn’t have have time for me anymore. It was like getting stabbed with an icicle. There were other things, of course. How when her husband-to-be moved to the town where we lived, I never saw her without him anymore after that, he was always there, I could never talk to my friend the same way again because there was always this stranger to me as witness. How when I told her about something horrible and painful that happened to me, she didn’t respond at all, just told me she had to go help her husband-to-be with something.

    I mourned for so long with no information, no understanding, no idea why she had left me like that. It is still one of the hardest things to remember, and that’s having had her back in my life in some small way for a few years now. It wouldn’t have been as much of an issue if I hadn’t had abandonment in my past, I know, but I did, so it was.

    After 14 years with no word from her, I found a relic of our time together in a box in my closet, and on that one day my heart was open, and I could write to her and wish her well and not care if I heard back from her or not. I didn’t hear back for 6 months, and by that time my heart had closed again. Eventually we traded emails that gave me a little more understanding about what she was thinking, even though she was completely wrong in what she thought about how I felt, which is what she reacted to (she thought I didn’t like her husband, when I just didn’t know him and didn’t like making plans with my friend only to show up and surprise get my friend plus her man, who I didn’t know, couldn’t act the same way around, couldn’t talk to the same way). We didn’t know how to communicate with each other when things got hard back then, at 22, and we’re a little better now, but an ocean between us means we’ll never get that closeness back.

    I still miss her, even though I am in touch with her on FB, even though we met at our college for our 20-year reunion last year. I miss having someone know me that well, miss that continuity. It’s not something she and I can ever get back, and that seems like such a waste to me.

    You’re right that it blows that there’s no recognition of the end of a close friendship. If we have romantic relationships end, or if we lose a family member, people get that, and they give us space to grieve. But somehow with someone who was “just a friend,” we’re supposed to bounce back, like it wasn’t a huge painful loss. Esp. when one person leaves without a trace, that loss is so real and needs space. It’s like saying a pet is “just a dog.” There’s no such thing as just in these situations.

    So for what it’s worth, I want to say: that is a horrible loss, and I’m so sorry you’re dealing with it, and I wish I could wrap you in safety and understanding if you wanted them. It’s not fair when people leave without saying goodbye.

  49. prettygreenglow responded on 20 Aug 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story, and your experience. I too had a friend who abandoned me. We knew each other since we were 11. We had one of those relationships where we would hang out for a few years, then bond with different crowds yet we would acknowledge each other’s existence because we went to the same school. We’d lose touch, only to find each other again and again. Fast forward to college, and we would run into each other, talk about old times, hang out, establish a friendship, then lose touch again. It became a well-worn pattern. Neither of us took it personally. It was just how things happened. I think we both knew we’d end up in touch again.

    She was the one who offered me a room in her house when my marriage was in trouble. I accepted her offer after mulling it over, deciding it was the best thing to do at the time. And it really was, and still was. It was the precursor to big changes. We learned tons more about each other as adults, and spent quite a bit of time with each other. Our jobs and schedules were so different, but our bond was the same as always – just stronger this time. It’s true what you hear – you learn whether you can get along with someone by either living with them or traveling with them. She was a tough one to live with. But, considering it was her (and her boyfriend’s) house, I had respect. My work at the time was inconsistent, so I always felt a little uneasy.

    Then, she started to get weird. Her job afforded her some luxuries. One was that she started hanging out with some really highbrow people. Many of them were doctors. She started to have really big parties. She started speaking and living quite differently.

    I had met a new man and had started dating him exclusively, living half the week with him and half the week with her and her boyfriend. It was a happy time, and being a part of two households where I was considered wanted was a really new concept to me. I noticed, however, that she had changed. The name dropping left me feeling invisible. The hints about fabulous times with others really hurt. I began to understand that I reminded her of her past, and where she came from, and that it had no place where she was now. She didn’t want anyone to find out, because it would spoil their opinion of her. It apparently was a secret.

    When I moved in with my boyfriend (now husband), attempts to keep in touch were strained. Her excuses stung. I figured things out. Last I heard, she’d moved to New Zealand. She and her boyfriend just packed up and started a new life. She disappeared slowly and methodically, and to this day it still hurts.

  50. Eat the Damn Cake » already smart enough, without even trying responded on 15 Oct 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    [...] internet for a while. Maybe enough people called me stupid. Maybe enough people called me smart. My brilliant friend disappeared, without a word. My new friends had large vocabularies that they used to describe hooking up with a lame guy who [...]

  51. Eat the Damn Cake » deciding to trust other women again responded on 26 Nov 2012 at 11:05 am #

    [...] then in grad school, there was my brilliant blond friend who left my life without a word, after she signed my wedding contract, just below my own signature. I think it was because I asked her if she wanted foie gras when I [...]

  52. Good Reads September – Marrying Unicorns, Working for Your Expensive Self, and Being Friend-Dumped | responded on 19 Jan 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    [...] at Eat the Damn Cake shared a touching story in “The Contract,” about losing a close friend to life. Not death, not moving, not illness… just people moving [...]

  53. Spuddy responded on 24 Mar 2014 at 12:04 am #

    I’ve lost a few friends before, and some I cried for days over. Those were usually the ones that we had a fight and then went our separate ways.
    Though there was one, with a guy I was particularly fond of his friendship(We had a lot of fun together and I really missed it. I still do sometimes.) With that one, I cried in spurts every now and then. Several times I’ve tried contacting him again and he always gave the same excuse of “Sorry I’ve been busy” and only just recently I decided to give up. I did my part so it’s up to him to talk to me again if he really wants to. (I actually for a while thought he hated me or I’d done something to upset him. Or maybe he learned about the crush I had on him in the early stages of our friendship. (Because I seem to get a crush on all my friends when we’re first getting to know each other, it’s strange but I just roll with it. It usually goes away eventually.) I wasn’t sure. But whatever the case I thought I was to blame.)
    Though, we’re in a group together that meets up about once a month (I haven’t been to one of the meetings in a while due to life things) but the last time I went to one, I stopped by the Barnes and Nobles right across the street and was looking at books and he approached me and we talked for a few minutes before he had to go. It was nice, I think. Lets me know that like, we might not be as close as we were but we can still say hi and have a friendly chat about the weather or a book we just read, y’know?

    Also omg yellow is such a cute color on you!