"Then leaf subsides to leaf." - Robert Frost
I said goodbye to an old friend tonight. I've only known her for four and a half years. But "old friend" still feels like the right way to put it. A lot passed in that short period of time. Her life saw a lot of changes. Mine did too.
Right from the beginning, we shared things with each other. We opened up the good, the bad, and the ugly. And we seemed to accept, and even embrace, all of those aspects of each other with little effort.
She's moving across the country. She may be back here one day. She may not. But it still felt like goodbye. I'll keep in touch. I'll see her again, whether here or there. But it's goodbye in the sense that we won't be meeting for drinks or coffee. We won't go bowling or see a concert or take her dog for a walk. No more Monday morning matinee movies in January. We'll just catch up every now and then.
I've done this before. I've moved away from friends. And friends have moved away from me. And I'm mostly okay with it. It's a little sad, to be sure. But this is what happens in life. People come in and out of it. You tie a string to the most important ones, and every now and then you tug it, just to make sure that they're there. But they're barely there. Over time their voices grow faint and their images become blurry.
We met briefly for coffee. I saw that her car was filled to the brim with the few possessions that she hadn't abandoned. We were both tired, and her night wasn't quite done. We stumbled through some small talk. And then it was time for her to go.
She dropped me off at my apartment and I felt a sadness that I never gave voice to. I already regret that.
An hour later, I picked up the phone and sent her a text. Trying to do justice to the goodbye that I felt. We traded a few inside jokes and I smiled. The jokes were small acknowledgments of the history that we'd shared. Something that was ours and ours alone. That would have to do.
She should already be in another state by now.