I was so pleased when we became friends at the age of 10. It was a difficult time for me. My mum re-married and left for Latvia. Left behind with my grandparents, I was lost, angry and sad. I wasn’t allowed to show any of those emotions, of course. So, I did my best to press on with life. Your company gave me solace and support no other friendship offered. To an extent, I hid behind your strength and courage.
I was amazed at how you were you at all times. You didn’t compromise your feelings or thoughts to please others. Sure, you didn’t always come across as polite and considerate. I was the master of those virtues. Instead, you were authentic. Authenticity was an alien concept to me at that time. It wasn’t practiced by people I knew and loved. It was distinctly dangerous, and as far as I could tell you were not loved more for that quality. Being in integrity and alignment with yourself were empty words to me.
I still enjoyed your company though. We were inseparable during breaks at school and we walked home together. When we got home, we usually called each other. Your big personality filled up all my space, and for the first few years I was grateful.
After a while, it became challenging though. As I tried to find my own identity, your strong views started to weigh me down. Based on your words, I was convinced that I was ugly and stood no chance of being admitted to university based on my knowledge. I started secretly resenting you.
A month and a half before we finished school, I ended our friendship. I walked away and shut the door on our friendship. Your critical voice was holding me back. I had to get into university. No one was going to pay a bribe to get me in, so somehow, I had to do it myself. And the first step was to get you out of my head. Everyone tried to reconcile us. ‘It’s not long, just pretend for a month. You can walk your separate paths afterwards.’
For the first time ever, I refused to be nice.
We didn’t see each other for 10 years. At our school reunion, which of course was at yours, we made polite conversations without dwelling into the past. Right after, I disappeared again.
I called you in December 2011 when I was visiting my grandma in our hometown. Needless to say that even after 20 years, I still remembered your phone number. You picked up the phone and it was like we were back at school, as if we never stopped talking. It was amazing to pick our friendship up where we’ve left it.
Since that chat, I’ve seen you twice. You are still the same you. And even though our lives couldn’t be further apart, I still love you. Thank you for showing me how to stay true to myself.