I lost a friend last year. He didn’t die, but he disappeared without explanations and I was surprised by how, in some ways, it felt a lot like grieving. I went through all the stages of loss; 1)denial and isolation, 2) anger, 3) bargaining (which comes with a lot of guilt), 4) depression, and finally 5) acceptance (well, not entirely through the last one). In my naive way to see the world, I had acquired the belief that the importance I had given to our conversations, the moments we had shared, had held the same kind of weight for him. I’ll never know if they did, but I have to relinquish the idea that I’ll have an answer.
His departure was symbolic in a lot of ways. It symbolized the end of a time. Not to sound dramatic, but it was a sudden and abrupt loss of innocence. I heard somewhere that heartbreak has a way to show us the cracks in our life. So suddenly, I started to examine my mind, partly as a way to find answers to explain this loss, and also to remedy to my unhappiness. In some ways, the loss of that friend, the end of a time, brought on the end of a version of myself.
There was more to it than just losing a friend. I’ve come to realize that what I’ve been feeling, the thing I’ve been missing and grieving for this past year is more than just a person, it’s a feeling and it can be broken-down to “the nostalgia of college life”; the late night conversations about changing the world, the ability to redefine yourself every week if it pleases you, the thirst, the hopefulness, the plunging head first into new experiences. That’s what that friend represented to me. I miss the time when you could make mistakes, when it was allowed. I didn’t make enough then, I wish I could go back in time and do it all over again. That friend is the kind of guy that has a thirst for life, the kind I’ve always envied. But come to think of it, it’s not so much his thirst than the fact he dives head first into his life experiences… He’s had a few lifetimes, each greater than the next. I envy his sense of adventure because in truth I’ve never been ‘fun’. I was always too serious, too soon, taking on responsibilities no one asked me to take and that I felt obliged to take on regardless. He’d called me a “mother hen” and it was true. I always felt that going after certain things I wanted would be selfish. I was trying to stay out of trouble, to be the dutiful daughter. I didn’t make as many mistakes as I should have made. So yes, in some ways I had a charmed life and in others I didn’t, but I was never young per say, and now I’m 26 and I feel less than twenty and over forty at once, and it’s uncanny, hard to explain, and I feel lost. Lost because the experience of both being around him and losing him freed me. His presence wreaked havoc in my life; it dissolved my many anchors in the most destabilizing way; it made me question everything I had taken for granted, things I had been holding on for dear life without knowing why, and reconsider all these obligations that weren’t really. For the last two years I’ve been walking through a desert and I lost my sense of directions. I am completely lost. He used to say it was a good thing. Maybe it can be… the good kind of lost… the kind that fosters possibilities. I’ve been asking myself all the questions I should have asked myself a long time ago, that I used to be so afraid to ask. I used to be so afraid of the consequences of asking them. I’m still afraid. My biggest fear is figuring out what I want, diverging from the plan I had… But what if it’s a good thing? Maybe my plan had errors of planning; things I couldn’t have foreseen, twists and turns in the road that changed me for the better. My life isn’t a fixed entity; it is a living being. What if “the real world” is the lie? Nothing can stop me from changing my mind a few times. I don’t have children or a mortgage, no one waiting for me at home… I’m not thirty yet, and even if I was… Would it mean my life plan is made and can’t be altered? Nothing is standing in the way of my making all the mistakes I didn’t make until now, or making these irrational immature crazy choices that characterize the young. It’s a beautiful truth: my life isn’t over yet. I still have time. So here’s my thought: maybe the time for mistakes isn’t over. Maybe it never stops. Maybe it has just begun.
Image source: http://www.artemissg.com/2013/04/college-students-health-conscious-and-energized/