I am happy to say I have had childhood friendships that have lasted into adulthood, namely my friend Brianna whom I met in grade 3 and who became my roommate when I left Prince George; and my friend Shannon whom I met in grade 8, who came to my wedding and who still visits when I’m in PG.
However there were two other young friendships which taught me how people change and drift apart. In both cases, I rather felt like the friend who stayed still whilst the drifting was done to me. I was a kid who got emotionally invested in friends, and took it hard when they didn’t commit to me long-term.
Strangely my future was not to hold such trials with romantic partners: the only man I fell in love with married me. All I can really claim for heartbreak is that L stopped playing with me when I was 12, and E stopped hanging out with me when I was 14 (not that I think either of them read my blog; but why use names when there are no more hard feelings?)
This poem portal is about L. She started as a friend of convenience, because she lived across the street from me and had a trampoline. Soon, one of us going to the other’s house was an almost daily occurrence. We invited each other to weekend events, played with her younger twin brothers or my younger sisters; we put up with her older brother and her dad (who liked to tell us things like “the word ‘woman’ is just ‘man’ with a ‘womb’ in front of it”).
For a few golden Elementary years, L felt irreversibly woven into my life. She unravelled gradually, with fewer and fewer visits; no more explanation than “I don’t really want to” when I invited her to things like swimming and board games. I sometimes saw her while I was walking home from school; usually she was with a girl I didn’t know. One of these times, I ran up to her and forced a Christmas present into her hands. I got no comment from L herself, but the girl she was with called after me as I dashed off again: “I like the wrapping, kid.” This confused me at the time, because we were all the same age. Looking back, I think it was a heavy hint that I was no longer welcome because I wasn’t growing up fast enough.
I got a much clearer hint from my estranged friend’s big brother another time that I was walking home from school. He stuck his head out the window as I was passing and said: “Jennifer, L doesn’t like you anymore.”
What was there for a sappy, optimistic introvert like me to do but go home and write a song about how L and I would still make things work? I did this, along with no further attempts whatsoever to enact the sentiment:
If we can’t even compromise, how can we be friends?
I’m not asking you to change completely,
Let’s just talk it out and solve it concretely.
But if we stay just as we are,
We won’t get anywhere.
So come what may, I’ll go walking today,
And I’ll meet you on the bridge halfway.
If we once held any grudges, our silence is wrong,
This river of friendship can still flow strong,
Not if we leave it to foam too long,
How am I to know what is troubling you,
If you can’t clue me in on what I could do?
This bridge here between us could crumble any day,
But if we stood side by side, I’m sure that bridge would stay,
Apart like this, our bridge is weakening fast,
Let’s get together, we can make that bridge last.
The bridge that keeps us going,
And the river ‘neath it flowing,
This bridge has to be crossed someday,
Before time has all but flown away,
So come what may, I’ll go walking today…
I hope to meet you on the bridge halfway—–.