It was odd, how that old saying was true. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Parents and other adults always said that throughout life, you’d make new friends and lose others. To me, this was like speaking Mandarin Chinese. It didn’t make sense to me, a girl who’d never lost a single friend ever. Such a strange feeling when this actually applied to you, to a friend, or rather, a somewhat-there friend. Kind of a hollow feeling, sautéed in guilt. I remember looking at her, trying to see the changes. She couldn’t really have changed that much over the span of 3 months, right? She looked the same. Same eyes, though, to me, less as bright. She always seemed distracted, not wholly there. But it takes two to make or break a relationship. So I flipped through my head to find my own faults. Confusion: check. Lack of communication: check. Anger and sadness on my part? Double check. Not reaching out far enough? Oh, yeah, can’t forget that one. The ‘I shoulda-woulda-coulda’ syndrome kicked in full time. Maybe she hadn’t changed at all, perhaps it was me. Maybe I was the issue. I lied awake for weeks thinking about it. My stomach hurt, I couldn’t focus. I slept more, ignored a lot of things. Yet, I was a fixer. That was my job. I never had friend issues like most girls my age. I was the one with wonderful friends, without drama, without caddy bickering or tacky fights over boys. In elementary school, when the teacher had exasperatedly exclaimed to the constantly fighting 4th graders: “Why can’t you ladies behave like her and so-and-so?”, I was so proud. It was like some great accomplishment. After that, girls came to me and my friends for advice. How to handle whatever tiny issue consumed their little realities. So where had I stumbled? Where did I screw this all up? Something I said? Something I didn’t say? I drove myself in circles, I eroded trails in my bedroom carpet, and through the park near my house. I cried. A lot. I realize now, that I’d much rather suffer from other’s emotional attacks than my own. It’s the worst feeling in the world to collapse not from physical, but emotional exhaustion. She wouldn’t talk to me, so I had to hear things about her from others. Here I was, her friend of God-only-knows-how-long, and I have to hear it from people who’ve known her a few months! After a while, I ignored it, pretended everything was ok. I asked beloved, wiser people for advice. I humbled myself. I wasn’t perfect, so my relationships wouldn’t be perfect either. I was not Dr. Phil or Guru on Friendships and all their inner workings. A little later on, our relationship improved somewhat. She came back to life, laughed more, talked more. The storm resolved itself, somehow. She figured herself out, I suppose. Solved her own battles, and matured. But it wasn’t like it had been before. We weren’t as close. Conversations died early and awkwardly. She attached herself to others more securely and she never went out of her way to contact me. Though, neither did I towards her. We drifted, and I think we both knew it. We still smiled, made friendly talk, but it felt forced and dry. There wasn’t any hatred or apathy between us, but our friendship surely had become something different. Like the shell of some forgotten thing. I made new friends, she made hers. She changed, and from my reflections on myself, I changed only slightly. Perhaps that was my fatal error. I didn’t change and morph with her. I stayed the same, boring, routine-riddled, old soul, and she changed to the vivacious, altogether different person with bits of her old self glued in between. A year or two passed. We reminisced on old memories, laughed about them, grinned and giggled. Yet, after talking about them, I ached. I ached to go back to when we were just kids, with our wild imaginations and our loves and passions sealed together. Situations and life changed us. We grew up, her and I, and I saw the fork in the road that would lead us to different futures, different lives. Hers: faraway and exotic. The stars were her limit and I was so proud. She’d go so far, she’d succeed, be at the very top. But I would stay behind. Routine based, predictable, stable and drab. I’d be the small town girl, who lived in the past, and she, the city super star, always pushing forward with her movie star smile. We’d always be friends, I’d make sure of that, but I had to accept that she wouldn’t always be that same girl I met in kindergarten, with the crazy cut out scissors and contagious laugh. I wondered what change she did or didn’t see in me. I wondered if I had disappointed her in some way. Maybe I’d failed her along the way. I hoped not. I hoped she’d always see that I’d be there. I’d always be there for her, always. I loved her like I would love a sister. I’d always accept her, even if she didn’t think so. I wondered if there was some hidden storm inside her that she had to weather herself. Whatever happened, and whatever will happen, I pray she will always feel secure relying on me for stability. I will carry her through those storms.