To The Friend Who Taught Me How Friendship Can Be Greater than Love

Illustration by Liwia Furia

Illustration by Liwia Furia

‘When you think things are falling apart, they just might be falling into place.’

At the beginning of every relationship, whether it be friendship or romance, when it is fresh and new, everyone is on their best behaviour. It seems as if it’s just all good. Although most relationships start out at the very unexpected time and happening, ours started unnoticed.

You weren’t my closest among your circle of friends, in fact, I was able to come to your house on your birthday without even knowing your name. However, just as I am keen to details, I remember you playing your logic games with them during your friend’s birthday. Do you remember? That night I stayed out because I can’t stand the smell of alcohol, and you were on the phone talking to your girlfriend, arguing whether she’d come over to your friend’s birthday or not. That was the first time we met. The second instance was your birthday and nothing ever followed after that. So you were just another passing friend, or so I thought.

Until that party on the beach, I saw you reading the ‘Les Miserables’ book, which I’ve read a couple of times, and which lit up a short conversation between us. It gave me a thought on probably changing my impression about you and your get-together full of drunkenness. Maybe, you’re some bookworm stuck between bottles of beer instead of books. Well, what do you know? To see someone who you think will drink-till-you-drop bring something more interesting than partying, that’s a first, or probably for me. I was guilty of judging people especially when they smoke and drink too much because it’s something I didn’t like. But I am equally humane to know that people have their rights to live their own lives the way they want it to and I respect that right. I think I was rather intrigued by what genre of books you read. So that way of thinking slowly dissipated. A year after, we were friends, like, really good friends. I disregarded the better judgement and welcomed the friendship openly.

We were chugging along with joy and excitement when you decided to pursue my cousin. Just as I am an idealist, my cousin, more so. Still, you got along just fine. A bookworm finding another bibliophile, what couldn’t be more perfect than that? But just when we thought it was a good start, things suddenly fell apart. Actions speaking louder than words are sweet indeed and it’s something to behold. But when your page was turned, it ended, too quickly.

The newness of any relationship does wane, but that doesn’t mean it ends there. As the months swiftly drifted, our friendship grew stronger. From the downhill emotions caused by an unsuccessful courting to a fireworks of feelings we both found on a sinking boat to a shared cruise of friend-ship. We’re always on the phone until the wee hours of the morning, texting constantly until the night just to say ‘hey’. Nothing but sincere consideration and simple courtesy. But things always unfold the way we least expect them to, right? I realized that we both speak in a language which the vast oblivion surrounding each word cracks us open. Not only did we accept the good strings but we both embraced the dark rooms inside us.

It was then I realized how amazing love works through friendship. To see how someone can make you feel completely at ease with who you are when you’re with them. To have the freedom to wear your flaws up to your sleeves and not pretend to be someone else just to look perfect. To grasp that feeling of knowing that you don’t have to put up a mask just so someone can see the beauty of your visage. To embrace the comfort that you will not be feared because of your darkness and tainted memories embedded intensely where your parts that never healed are hidden. To accept the beauty of vulnerability for showing your scars and the fractures of your soul. And that for everything else imperfect, you will never have to run away. That was what we built.

Illustration by Liwia Furia

Illustration by Liwia Furia

Just like love, friendship requires investment, of time, of effort, of emotion. And when you put these on the line, there’s no guarantee that you will equally receive whatever you give. When our cracks opened, I came to think that if the vessel isn’t enough to hold it in, containment could also mean the end. So as the friendship grew, the lessons became hard-learned too. Indeed, the only constant thing in this world is change. And over the course of time, how we sought to keep the friendship changed as well. I knew well, that even in friendship, we can’t expect people to stay and never leave. I’ve also learned that physical presence matter less as long as communication is constant, because trust and loyalty with undivided attention are the most important things to keep it going and growing. So I believed that the little distance you maintained between us was an encouragement to grow individually.

However, the more we turned raw, the more it felt real. And the more it felt real, the more it caused pain. Because after you strip your soul naked, it may get ripped even more. That part of our story turned us to slivers running through the blood stream, tearing every inch of us inside. The friendship in some way started to wrench our flesh, poison our blood, nibble our bones. It stung our hearts and made our souls be like vaporized breath on a cold night. The shared dreams became wrecked walls of dented oblivion. Promises turned to apthongs and vocals. The friendship became an endless battle no one knew about. Was everything a facade? I know not. What I know is that life is hard, and love and friendship should help make struggles easy.

I was always a believer of true friendship which doesn’t just cease to exist because the going gets rough. Something that should never require you to compromise anything, instead allows you to be you and lifts you through the tough times, hard times, all times. We shouldn’t have suffered due to the choices we made prior to us coming into the picture of our lives. No one should have to pay the price for what the last person did to us to mistrust people. Because I never looked forward to an aftermath of a broken friendship. Which is why I question, where did we both fall short? Was it because we did not live through each other’s pain? Have I not touched your void or not felt your past passing through my veins? And as my gaze drifted into the void, I remembered what you once said to me, that any feelings once shared doesn’t mean it isn’t true or real, it’s just that sometimes when people grow, they grow apart.

But because I am the type who doesn’t easily give up, I also came to think that although there are difficult things in keeping any relationship, even friendship, like even after you stumble upon their potholes, you still have the courage to walk on it. To know that sometimes it could be difficult to hold them, but you chose to do it anyway. And that even when you wanted to walk away, you still fought to stay. I guess sometimes that is how love works in friendship. That was what you taught me to hold on to.

And more than that, I’ve learned that entropy exists with it. That some things become more beautiful after they’ve been destroyed. That people can also be a beautiful chaos. And just as any atom is subject to change, feelings inebitably does too, and when it happens, little can you do to reverse that. It’s like being in a daedalus of tangled ropes struggling to escape, taking time to unbreak the chain. But once the knots are untied, it becomes a labyrinth of discoverable mysteries of him and yourself.

I’ve always thought friendship is a state of being, but I realized it is rather a more complex feeling than love. You always struggle not to keep it at just an ephemeral stage. You often run through nostalgia which you have to break loose to because such illusion can hold you captive. And when the state of friendship sinks into sui generis, it will teach you how to have compassion for yourselves and your entire being. To learn how at some point of your loneliness on the course of keeping the friendship, someone can teach you love yourself a bit more, a bit harder.

I understood that some people are not meant to stay in our lives. But to dwell in a dreary feeling wouldn’t help me let you go. None of us ever entered a friendship that taught us how to unlearn a person. Probably because, even after someone leaves, they have left a spot in our lives which will never be filled by anyone again. And I probably find it hard to let go because never again will I become the person I was with you. But just as love, friendship should feel like home. And once we both would learn to build a home out of our ruins, then, we’ll know, we’re home when it is no longer a place, but a person. It might be someone else, it might be me, or it might also be You yourself.

Written by Aurielle Lilianne Morada