May 5, 2015

#Writing 101: Third Time’s The Charm

Today’s Prompt: Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile. Reflect on the theme of lost and found more generally in this post and continue the serial challenge from  Serially Lost and Serially Found 

The last time I spent clearing out shit from my cupboards and drawers after several hours of inertia staring at closed boxes, I stumbled upon some long-forgotten possessions I have kept in my little treasure box, full of momentos from the past.

In it, I found a bunch of neatly folded, hand-written letters from my long-time BFF of “20 minus 2 years”  who at this point in my life, has been nothing but a great friend, and together, we have been through all the thick and thin in life.

Back in our tertiary days and many years after that, we both used to write each other letters, pouring our hearts out when things were not going so well in our lives. Things which we don’t share with other friends. Hers were always so very neatly written which was always a pleasure to read; and between the both of us, nothing was filtered. Those letters were filled with in-your-face honesty yet so full of compassion, empathy and love.

Through these letters, we supported each other and giving the other person the kind of encouragements only we both know how. Those letters were always sealed with a unique trademark fold and inserted in nice envelopes. Instead of cleaning things up as I had first set out to do, I ended up re-reading each and everyone of those letters and got lost in the abyss of time.

As I read those letters, I realised how far our friendship has come along. It was a friendship that time has tested in “20 minus 2” years. And, I feel like the luckiest person on earth to have been able to celebrate our friendship with someone who has been with me when I was 20, 30, going on 40 …and still be with me forever more. She’s pretty much the male-version of Silver Bullet. I reckon we both may have been married if we aren’t straight-up heterosexual.

I remember how we got acquainted through a mutually-popular friend called Morris. It is still a story we laugh about when we reminisce about the past when she had, in her words, felt intimidated by me but thought she’d approach me anyway. My response, as she recalled it, was curt, unfriendly and hostile, but was surprised that I had, for some reason obliged to her invitation to mingle about with Morris.

I wasn’t (still am not) much of a talker and in that first personal encounter, I remembered that she talked my ears off! She talked for a full ten minutes, non-stop about everything and nothing. I wasn’t responding much, partly because apart from the fact that I would rather listen than talk, I was also thinking in my head, “OMG! This chick talks A LOT! It’s too much for me to deal!”

Funnily enough, thanks to Morris, we grew closer since then and I did wonder how she wasn’t so repulsed by my perceived-hostility then which was pretty much what other people thought of me. She always is the talker, me always the listener; so I reasoned that she probably was “drawn” to me because I listened to all the crap she had in her head without going head-on with her.

She was the out-going, social type and many of her friends were surprised that she befriended me of all people!

Me? I was the complete opposite – my introversion was misconstrued as being hostile when I actually needed time to warm up.  We became fast friends quite quickly and over time, I opened up to her more than I would or could with anyone.

We hung out every day in school and after school. Even after we stepped into the corporate world, we continued to hang out almost every day when and where we can. We always have time for a cup of coffee. And, when I was broke for the month, she’d be my sponsor and vice-versa; it helped that I usually get paid at the end of the month and she, in the middle of the month so we tide each other over for the first few years of always being broke in our first jobs.

Whenever she tells others how long we’ve known each other, I would always correct her with “x  minus 2!”. I would do that with a cheeky smirk and would specifically emphasize on the “minus 2“. Minus 2: It was a dark time,more than a decade ago, when she decided to disappear out of my life (as well as a bunch of others) for a good 2 years, to sort her life out.

I saw her lost in a wreck before it happened; and then, without warning, she disappeared. She refused to take any calls, meet up or reply to an email. At that time, I felt nothing more than anger and disappointment.Angry that she allowed whatever that she was facing to stand in the way of our friendship, and disappointed that she had refused to let me in into her crazy world for all the support I thought I could offer. She left me out, cold and dry. Helpless.

After a period of no-response, I decided to let her go. While I was upset that I thought I couldn’t be the friend she needed me to be, I trusted that she would be back whenever she was ready. It was our modus-operandi: we respect each other’s space and with just about enough prodding, we only talk about things when we are ready. Besides, in my eyes, I wasn’t the one who left. I’ll be there for her whenever she needed me for I was (and still am!) only a phone-call away.

She needed 2 years to sort things out, and suddenly out of the blue, there came a text message for a cup of coffee. I was apprehensive but glad to oblige. I had missed my friend dearly,  but I was also harbouring a lot of anger and massive,massive disappointment from the “abandonment”. It bordered on the violation of trust.

That first meeting after 2 years of silence was awkward to say the least. Like the first time, I was quiet for most of the time and she did most, if not all of the talking. But I could never forget the the look of genuine sincerity in her eyes in the way she held my hands and with tears, apologized for her disappearance. I had to try very hard to stop myself from crying as we were in a public place.

I needed time to warm-up again and with her persistence and dedication for months after, she had us both on the road to recovery and paving the way to heal our friendship to continue where we left off. It helps that she’s always so easy-going and shameless to be able to knock down the walls I have re-build around myself.

Much like the story I told about my ballsy cat, Ah-Max, she needed time to be on her own. She needed to figure it out and live her own life. Like Ah-Max, she may have been exhausted and battered from all that fights I didn’t know about, yet, she was tough enough to surrender and be vulnerable when the time called for it.

Like Ah-Max, it felt that while I have “lost” her temporarily, at the same time, I realised that she taught me more than I had ever bargained for.

She taught me the art of letting go and that true friendship knows no boundaries in the face of adversity and straight-in-the-face honesty. She exposed me to the various spectrum of social diversity, and that in friendship, a prolonged negativity that is brought into a solid relationship could destroy everything – which was one of the main reasons why she had to go away.

Most important of all, she taught me to sometimes look at the lighter side of life and that it takes guts to admit defeat and that in forgiveness, there is a glimmer of hope for something better.

In the case of Ah-Max, he never actually came back after my parents’ 3rd move to a new home. He just disappeared. I guess he got really tired of climbing up and down to the 11th storey of an apartment building every time he snuck out. He must be 15 years old now – quite old for a cat. We don’t know where he is now or if he is still alive. If he is still alive, I hope he found himself another loving owner who would care for him for the rest of his life. We have found much love when he was with us.

As for my BFF, this post has coincidentally reminded me to celebrate a lifetime of friendship (minus 2 !). For whatever it was worth, we have found the many different ways to be a better friend to each other. I truly feel very blessed and thankful for having a friend like her. We may be living in different countries, but in our hearts and in our minds, we are never really far apart.

With that, I hope you take the time to think of all the friendship you have lost and found in the course of your life and celebrate the bonds that you have. Here’s to every friendship around the world which have added years and wisdom to your life!

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Dear BFF, you know I love you!


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