Miss You Babe

It was the day of my birthday party, and I was feeling the wrong feelings. A weird, unplaceable sadness. I wasn’t upset about my age. I had gorgeous, amazing friends who had come to celebrate with me. What could be wrong?

 

Well.

 

A year before this, one of my dearest friends had left NYC to attend grad school. We’d kept in touch through texts and emails, and she’d visited New York twice, but gone were the late-night, spur-of-the-moment cocktails, the zany shopping adventures, the

nights out dancing.

 

Luckily, around the time she left, I’d started getting closer to another girl in our group.

 

This girl became my new go-to for grabbing drinks and sharing relationship drama, and my plus-one for all the weird and magical events NYC has to offer.

 

But not everyone considers this city their lifelong love affair. NYC is a capricious lover, and not everyone is willing to put up with her bullshit forever. So this best friend left, too, following her own shiny career path.

 

Have you ever heard of a “long-distance friendship?” It’s not really part of the vernacular. We have language to describe what happens when life separates lovers by distance, but not girlfriends. And I’ve never been the best texting buddy. I’m the friend you count on for an in-person, five-hour marathon of dinner and drinks and baring your soul. I don’t do frivolous friendships.

 

A week or so before my birthday party, an old friend got in touch with me out of the blue (or maybe it wasn’t so random; it was nearly my thirty-second birthday, after all).

 

Her sudden presence was mystifying and a little jarring; she doesn’t live in New York. I wasn’t sure why she was thinking of me.

 

I have a tendency to view any weirdness in my life as a mirror – what does this person, this situation, say about me? And what I identified with was a little bit of that longing.

 

That desire to recapture the vitality of an old friendship. Because even as adults, even if we have satisfactory romantic partners, we still deeply need our platonic friendships.

 

But I don’t see a lot of recognition of this in our society. We spend so much time focused on how to snag a partner, and less time thoughtfully cultivating our friendships.

 

So much so that it took me hours to recognize my emotions on that birthday-party day – I was in mourning.

 

I was missing something that I hadn’t been given a language to miss.

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(2018)