The Bank Holiday weekend was a bit strange for me. I learned on the Friday that a friend was getting married on the Sunday and from my distinct lack of knowledge I was clearly never invited. I was a little bit hurt; this was a friend who had drifted away after they found a new partner and yet still I had always thought they’d be back in my life one day. It felt like a faint line was being drawn under the friendship. Over the weekend, I got messages from various mutual friends asking me why I wasn’t there and whether I had known it was happening. That made it feel a lot more definite and that line became much more permanent.
I’m not going to go into a lot of history because it’s not really that relevant. I was a good friend to this person and at a time when I needed support, they weren’t there for me because they were caught up in their romance. Perhaps I did something to warrant their disappearance from my life, I honestly don’t know. Friends have theorised various scenarios and what they all demonstrate is the incredible loyalty and kindness my friends show me all the time.
As well as helping me to remember that my friends are wonderful people, the whole situation made me realise something about what we do and don’t say, what is and isn’t included. It’s possible that this errant friend realised their mistake and felt too awkward to get in touch, for example. It may have felt easier to just slink away, even though I think we all understand when people get overwhelmed, or over-excited or just too damn busy to keep in touch all the time.
The interesting thing is that one slightly awkward conversation and my attendance at – or at the least, awareness of – the wedding would have meant no one else would have known that we never really spoke any more. There was never an argument, and yet the severance of the friendship is absolute and maybe difficult questions would be asked. My presence would have made the absence of friendship less visible to the wider world. Silence didn’t keep the distance between us hidden; on the contrary, it exposed and amplified it.
I’m not sure what all this means, but it’s an interesting idea for a writer. How loudly do the things we consciously edit from our work echo in the final draft? What is the effect of all the things we don’t say? What is happening behind the scenes of the primary action? I don’t have any answers; it’s just something I’ll be thinking about over the next few weeks as I work on some new poems.
Maybe one day I’ll write about this whole situation and how it feels. I’m not so sure on that, because I try to focus on the positives wherever I can. Maybe I’ll write about my brilliant remaining friends instead. Or perhaps something that shows that dark moments illuminate both the light in our lives and secrets about the strange business of writing.
And just for the record, despite everything I wish this former friend of mine the utmost happiness. I wish I could have been at their wedding to tell them so. I’ve learned from this that what isn’t said can also hold weight, so perhaps the on going silence will pass on my good wishes somehow.