Comrades come and go but
memories never leave
By H.G. Miller
is what did it for me.
Driving aimlessly along some empty street at two in the morning, I passed one of those bank signs that tells the temperature. 56 degrees. Suddenly aware of the chill coming through my open car window, I reached to close it. Impulse made me turn on the car´s heater, and I was hit by a recollection.
Who puts on the heater to drive with their windows down on a cold night? My friend did.
I began to wonder where he was. I knew he was somewhere in Manhattan. Those miles may as well be to the other side of the world, though. Sometime last summer, with addresses changing and phone numbers switching, I lost him.
Well, then, what is it that comes between friends?
Surely I´m not alone with this question. I think we´ve all lost somebody as these college years slip by.
High school acquaintances were the first to go all those faces with names that were forgotten seconds after their mention. These are the disposable people in your life; standard-issue citizens who you meet at parties; friends of friends with no outstanding character traits aside from being able to remember your name the next time they meet you.
For me, family was the next to go you know, all of those aunts and uncles and cousins that only showed up at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I still see my mom and dad, my little sister and my cat. The rest have all just fallen away. Grandma gets a letter every once in a while, but that´s about it.
All of this, I can handle, though.
Losing my friends that´s the thing I never dreamed would happen. How can bonds that seemed so tight such a short while ago be broken already?
I guess this is how it happens as we grow older. We attend different universities, we study different subjects, and we meet different people. Like it or not, we change. Phone calls become awkward and soon enough, there is no common ground.
Letters become pointless when you actually contemplate writing the same letter and sending it to five different people. And still I ask, why do these things happen?
Can you remember the first time you made a priority judgment about your friends? With homework piling up, work hours steadily increasing, and deadlines constantly looming, choices had to be made.
Who´s been writing me back? you might have asked. And how much do we really talk, anyway?
Yes, this is how it all begins. Somewhere hidden deep in our psyche lies a wicked little list. For every new person of significance in our lives, someone old must go. Any amount of time spent thinking about the many possible futures leaves less and less to spend reminiscing about the past.
I´m not talking about short periods of neglect. Some new girl comes into your life and for a little while nothing else in the world matters. No, that´s forgivable. Friends will understand that.
It's the permanent cuts I'm talking about. Not only the subconscious decision we make to end correspondence, but the same decision our friends make about us. Here is where the pain begins. Now, that deep sense of loss begins to sink in.
The memories will come for different reasons: a song on the radio, an old trailer on a rental video, or maybe just the right temperature in the wind. Whatever.
The list will never be concrete. I can´t even begin to count the number of evenings we spent driving aimlessly around with the windows down and the heater on. He was my best friend in high school. But what of it?
Almost four years have passed since high school. During the last year, we talked maybe three times and never sent each other a letter. The priorities of life have gotten in the way. Somehow, the decision was made. Once again, the list has changed.
Miller is a Hutchinson senior in English.