To All The Best Friends I Demoted To Strangers

Illustration by Daniel Caballero

Illustration by Daniel Caballero

Once upon a time, if I wanted to pour out my feelings to you,

I’d just shoot you a text. I’d wait a couple of minutes– maybe an hour at most, if you happened to be busy, but not too much time would pass – then you’d reply as quickly as if I came to you in person. We’d spend the whole evening talking, only stopping to realize that we’ve gotten so lost in our conversation as the rooster interrupts us with a crow and the sun comes up.

Whatever plagued my mind, you healed by simply being present.

But now? It’s 2am and I’m sitting in front of my laptop, typing up this letter on email, a window blinking “You cannot send a message without a recipient.” Gmail just doesn’t get that some messages don’t need a recipient.

I’m hiding behind the context of anonymity that comes with open letters because I am no longer close enough to you to message you on my own.

Another thing I’d like to tell you is that I’ve drafted this letter a total of 8 times. I’ve added, subtracted, divided, and multiplied my words relentlessly until I realized that no amount of flowery phrases or poetic claims could put you back into the equation. This shatters me.

Once upon a time, my phone used to buzz every hour, bearing your name and bedazzled with affectionate emojis. Your numerous texts were badges on my own personal sash of bragging rights.

I was the first person you told things to – whether it was an update about your love life, the latest argument you had with your family, a pile of school work you’re too stressed to start with, new drama with your friends, or even just an utterly hilarious picture you spotted on Twitter that made you laugh. It didn’t matter what your news was about, all that mattered was that I was always the second person after you to hear it.

But now? Now, when people ask me to relay a question they have for you about some new scandal you’re allegedly involved in, it takes every inch of me not to let the heartbreak seep through my eyes as I silently realize how your name is so far down my recent chat list to the point that your once embellished-with-emojis name now blends with the other plain contact IDs that have gotten lost in my sea of conversation tabs.

Once upon a time, I couldn’t even say that I could read you like a book, because with all the print, sometimes we accidentally skip a word or two. But with you, I never overlooked anything. I saw you as clear and precise as if I was staring straight into a mirror.

And maybe that’s why I knew you so well– understanding you, was like understanding myself. We were intertwined– connected in a way not even the finest poet could put into words.

But now? Now, I hear stories about you as I pass mutual friends in the hallway and I need to keep my jaw from dropping because the things I hear you’ve done makes me think that despite all your supposed candidness and candor during our friendship, maybe I didn’t know you as well as I thought I did, or possibly, at all.

But let me get this straight– I didn’t write this letter to tell you how weird things have been since we’ve drifted and guilt trip you into either coming back or apologizing. In fact, I wrote this letter to tell you that even if things may be out of place between us, you need to know that I’m not angry.

I do not harbor any ill or negative emotions towards you; I mean, sure, maybe I did in the beginning, but these days? Not anymore.

Honestly, the only thing I feel for you now is gratitude.

No matter how tense or odd things between us are today, I can’t cancel out our history; at one point in my life, even if it was months or maybe even years ago, you made me happy, and in a world where it’s easier to make a person frown than smile, I am thankful for that.

I am thankful for you.

Our friendship brought a lot to my life– some lessons were painful to learn, but it was through this pain that I learned to grow. I learned what I lacked in, and I learned what I was doing wrong. I wish I could have figured this all out earlier, not when our friendship was at the brink of full dilapidation..

The tear in our relationship might have scarred me a bit, but that’s okay– I am proud of what I’ve gone through. What we’ve gone through.

Old pal, to me, you are the wound that a little boy gets after falling from doing an awe-inspiring trick on the monkey bars; the wound that hurts the more you poke and prod at, the wound that heals better in time, the wound you remember getting so you’ll never repeat the action you did to get it, and most importantly, the wound that demands to be shown off because it holds the essence of all the amazing and epic things you must have done to get it.

Submitted to ArtParasites by Frances Leerose R. Beltran