"I hate you. I want to breakup."
This was a what was scribbled on a note that Becky U. slid across my desk when we were in the fourth grade. I think I still have that note somewhere, buried in a box of childhood memorabilia. I still know the text by heart because I documented it in my youthful chickenscratch in one of the stack of journals now resting on my bottom bookshelf.
I remember how confused and angry I was when I read those words. Confused because I didn't know what I did to make her suddenly hate me. Angry because she was more popular than me, and because a rejection by her meant that none of the other girls in the class would talk to me for the rest of the week, if not longer. And of course, I was deeply hurt that my friend had suddenly decided that she hated me and didn't want to be friends with me any longer.
Yes, some things never change. But I never, ever thought that fifteen years later I would be on the receiving end of virtually the exact same written message. I never imagined that after seven years, one of my closest friends would end our friendship with a four-line email.
When you're ten and your friend tells you she doesn't want to be your friend any more, you cry. You cry, and you let it distract you from school and you go home and tell your mommy and try to listen when she says that sometimes friends say things they don't mean.
When you're twenty-five and your friend tells you she doesn't want to be your friend any more, you cry. You cry, and you let it distract you from school, and you call your mom from your car sitting outside your now-ex friend's house, trying to get it together enough to drive home without falling apart. And you try to listen when your mother says what you rationally know, that this was a long time coming. That, for all intents and purposes, you moved on from this situation a long time ago.
Still, you get angry. You get so very angry that you've spent years apologizing for growing up and moving on and getting a life. For the wasted years you've spent feeling you had to justify and defend who you are. So deeply crushed that despite your best intentions, there are things beyond your control and that even though you never wanted it to be like this, it is irrevocably like this. You yell things, things that you would never say to anyone but your mom, and only from inside the protection of a locked car.
And you know that even though this is a conflict between the two of you, other people will choose her side and you will lose them. That even if you don't lose them-lose them, her response to the situation has ruined your other friendships. This is bitter pill to swallow. It is brutally unfair. And yet, if there is anything you know by now it is that life and love rarely have anything to do with fairness.
Oh Lordy, you will be tired. You'll be utterly spent from the denouement of finally accepting what is instead of what should be or could be. You'll be angry and relieved and devastated and liberated, and lo, it will be a mess. With hard edges.
So when the nastiness has been purged, you drive to the liquor store, buy a fifty dollar bottle of champagne and go out with friends. Real friends. People who are forgiving and funny, people who you never feel guilty around, people who encourage and listen and confide and bitch and banter and smile.
You quietly drink a toast to the end of an era you're not sorry to see gone by. And when you drive home with the windows rolled down, Springsteen blaring and midnight breeze blowing your hair back, you sing along with gusto that it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive.