It’s an odd feeling losing a friend. Lord knows I’ve done it too often to forget the feeling. The layers of discomfort that peel away slowly over the years, but never fully get wiped away. Of course there’s different degrees of hurt. Of nostalgia. Of separation. Of that helpless sense of loss. Layers peeling of, never completely healing.
I was at a party last week, and I found myself in an odd spot. There was a large bunch of people I didn’t know. And a couple of people I once did, very intimately. Bound to happen when close relationships have faded away over the months suddenly come to the fore again. It reaches a point where it gets uncomfortable to share a space with the same people again. My gaze was shifty, conversation stilted and I couldn’t stop the memories of what once was, events that had brought us so close, as they loomed large in my mind, making me feel wistful and a tad angry too.
What do you do with that kind of sense of loss? When there hasn’t been an obvious reason to part ways. No fall out, no disagreement to pin a parting on. Just a stale reminder of all the intentions to patch things up, pick up where you left off, intentions that never turned to action.You have no choice but to let go with a sigh and a heavy heart because you know things will never go back to being the way the once were.
Then there’s another kind of helpless loss, when people move away. Physically. I know I felt it when I moved cities, from Bangalore to Goa. I’d have been a fool to tell myself that the distance couldn’t change anything. And when reality dawned and the move inched closer, I was overcome by a sense of panic that constantly bubbled beneath the surface. The move was a test of the foundations of all of my friendships in Bangalore. Most withered away with time. As the weeks whizzed by, my relationships were stripped down to bare minimum. Relying on and staying in touch with only those who made a difference, and who stayed in touch with me. Those with whom my friendship ran deeper than just a few commonalities.
And even then, some have played a game of hide and seek with me. Making me fight for those that I held special. Painfully letting go and coming back together, too many times for my liking. The kind of loss that makes me want to go back in time, shake the person up and say let start over!
There was a wave of losing friendships by virtue of moving apart then. And there seems to one now, again. With a few of my closest friends in Goa packing their bags to move on in life. Of course loss is a heavy word to use in this context, because all is not in fact lost. But that distance is enough to alter, even if very slightly, the nature of the relationship. No more can we land up unannounced at each others homes. No more can we make plans to explore Goa on the weekends. No more can we share music, films and food as closely as we used to.
It’s changed. Something feels lost.
The old makes way for new, sooner or later. But some times the new just doesn’t cut it. Oddly, at the party that night, the opportunity to make new friends was right there in front of me. But something about all those feelings of loss, a tinge of loneliness even amidst a house full of people, and the finality of transformed equations with old friends jogged back that discomfort that hangs around like a cloud, every time you lose a friend. It never really goes away.
I was reminded once again, that everything must go. It’s forgetting that is so hard.