She was worried their friendship wouldn’t last much longer. It had always depended upon one of them needing the other: a broken love relationship, a lost job, a death in the family. Whatever it was it was always one of them being a rock for the other one and then switching, or not, sometimes the rock was the strong one for a few events in a row before slipping into the role of the weak one. At any rate, they always went back and forth, they were never both rocks and they were never both weak. Perhaps things would be different if they’d ever been able to occupy the same role comfortably. Perhaps.
As it stood they’d both been in a place of strength for months. They’d texted less and less often, seen each other in person fewer times each month, and stopped making future plans to see each other. There was something about them not needing one another to lean on that caused them to also not need one another at all, for anything. It was sad and inexplicable. Did they really have nothing to say to one another unless one of them was falling apart?
She’d considered creating some drama, a fake spiritual crisis, they were approaching forty after all. She considered pretending that forty was a terrifying prospect for her. She didn’t think she could pull it off. And she also realized that if she had to lie to her friend to keep her friend, perhaps the friendship wasn’t worth keeping. She finally decided she’d set a date to see her friend again and explain that she’d always be there for her, but that she no longer wanted to limp along pretending they were more to each other than a crutch. The prospect of the conversation saddened her and relieved her.
The day they’d set to meet up dawned like any other: stunningly beautiful sunrise, she got ready to leave like always, and everything was just so. They arrived at the restaurant within moments of one another, hugged in the parking lot on the way in, and then entered together getting seated right away. They made small talk while they waited to place their drink and food orders, then sat in an awkward and fidgety silence waiting for their coffees to arrive.
The coffee arrived hot and beautiful: little foam and espresso artwork on top. They admired each others foam for a moment before clinking mugs in a cheers and taking their first sips. Their collective “ah’s” of appreciation drew a few stares from neighboring tables and they laughed at themselves. Surely they could save this friendship.
“So, I wanted to get together today because,” she cleared her throat, “well, it seems like things have really been going well for both of us and for whatever reason we aren’t really talking anymore,” she laughed and took a sip of her coffee.
Her friend took the opportunity to jump in, “yeah, I’ve totally noticed that too. It’s strange, right? I mean, I love hearing about how happy you are and I love being happy, but I feel like our happy’s don’t mesh,” she shrugged, unable to express exactly what she meant.
“Oh my gosh, yes! I agree! It’s just like that. When I’m having a hard time there is no one in the world I need so much as I need you. But when things are going well, it’s like I tell you but I don’t get that same feeling of connection as I do when it’s something bad. It doesn’t make sense and it just leaves me feeling…” she waved her hand in circles, looking for the description of her feelings.
“Empty? Like, it takes away your good feelings to tell me about your good feelings, whereas when you tell me about your bad feelings you feel lighter but also fuller?” her friend interjected.
“Yes! That’s exactly it. Feeling bad, I have to talk to you to feel better. Feeling good, I talk to you and I feel worse. But I don’t understand why. You’re amazing. You’re absolutely my very best friend ever. I don’t understand why I can’t share good and bad with you equally.”
“No, I get it, because I feel exactly the same way. When something major amazing happens, of course I want to tell you right away because I share everything with you, but then somehow the awesome starts to wear a little the moment I share it,” her friend concurred.
“So what do we do? I don’t want to lose you as a friend,” she said, reaching out across the table and holding her friends hands in hers.
They looked into each others eyes for a moment and then laughed, separating their hands and drinking from their coffees. Their food arrived and they began eating.
“This place is the best,” she said, licking some Hollandaise sauce off her lower lip.
“Definitely the best,” her friend agreed. “Okay, so how about if we continue to meet once a month for breakfast, like this. If things are going great, we just have breakfast, the end. If things aren’t going great we can still start the day over breakfast but then rather than ending the day, we continue it to lean on one another. Does that work? I mean, coffee and breakfast once a month even when our lives are fabulous only makes our lives more fabulous, right?”
“That’s true. I like the way you’re thinking,” she said, “and maybe, even if things are good we can still continue our day after breakfast by going to a movie or an event or something? Just because our fabulous lives and our fabulous breakfasts are over it doesn’t mean we can’t do other fabulous things together, it just means we can’t talk about our fabulous lives,” she laughed and drained the last of her coffee.
“Yes! I love it! I love this plan!” her friend exclaimed. “And I have to say, I’m so glad. I was really worried about today. I came here this morning expecting to have to friendship break up with you and it was making me miserable.”
“Me too!” she said, her right hand going to her chest. “I’ve been a bit miserable about it and was trying to figure out how I could spin that unhappiness into something more, something that would allow us to continue on as before.”
They laughed at each other and themselves.
“And also, I’m really happy for you. I hope you know that. I’ve been so glad you finally got all the good things you’ve earned in this life coming to you,” she said.
“Thank you. I agree. I mean, I agree the same thing about you. I’ve always felt you got dealt some pretty crap cards and you’ve managed to play them beautifully and come out on top,” her friend said, smiling.
“So, do we want to start today? Go somewhere after breakfast?”
“Definitely. Do you have anything in mind?” her friend asked.
“Well I was thinking I’d head over to the garden show over at the stadium today. Does that sound fun?”
“Absolutely! That sounds perfect. And I’m in this awesome walking challenge on my step counter so that would help me get in the steps I need to crush my competitors,” her friend laughed.
“You have a step counter? Me too! I just got one to track my sleep, which it turns out I’m getting even less of than I’d thought, so that’s not cool. But otherwise I love it. I’m surprised by how much I enjoy all the bits of info it tells me about how I spend my day. And the reminders to move when I’ve been sedentary for too long.”
“Isn’t that the best?” her friend agreed. “You should join my challenges, if you’re into that kind of thing. I usually go up against a couple ladies from work. They really keep me on my toes.”
“I’d love to!” she said, “want to carpool to the garden show and you can make us friends on the app while I drive?”
“And it’s my treat for breakfast,” she said, “you bought last time.”
“Okay, but then I get entrance fee to the garden show,” her friend said.
“Fine by me,” she laughed, “it’s free.”
The check arrived, she pulled out some cash and left it in the book. They smiled at each other, and simultaneously asked, “shall we?”
“This,” she said, catching her breath between laughter, “this is what I was hoping to save.”
They hugged and walked out, chatting about what they hoped to find at the garden show and whether or not they thought the step counter craze would last. And I’m so bored by this story that I can only say thank goodness:
~~~That’s one hour~~~