“Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a park bench quietly? How terribly strange to be seventy. . . ”
“Old Friends.” That Simon and Garfunkel song has been running through my mind all day, since I found out that a friend from high school committed suicide this week.
We aren’t/weren’t seventy yet — far from it. But we were OLD friends, even though we hadn’t been close for many years. We shared that teenage time of hopes and dreams. Two chubby, nerdy sophomores who just KNEW that one of those days, we would find Prince Charmings who would appreciate us, and we would have rewarding careers and wonderful children and split-levels in suburbia and live happily ever after.
It worked out for me. It did not for her.
I have the Prince Charming, the wonderful kids, the rewarding career, the house in suburbia.
She had a career that never quite satisfied her and a cat that she loved.
In hindsight, I recognize the signs of the bi-polar disorder that plagued her for her entire life. Where I could make a plan and stick to it, she could not. When I could slough off disappointments, she could not. When I could accept who I was, she could not. She was always searching, searching, searching for the ONE thing that would make it all better, never able to see that there is no ONE thing. Life is series of ups and downs that we have to negotiate.
My most vivid memory of my friend has me sitting on the front porch on an unseasonably cool May night, waiting for her to come for a sleepover. Her dad dropped her off, the giggling started, the records played. We were fifteen, and life was good. The horizon beckoned — but we sailed in different directions.
We grew apart after high school, reconnecting briefly in college. But by then, we had little in common. I think she felt abandoned. I know that I was dealing with too much of my own adolescent angst to be responsible for anyone else’s.
That does not make me feel any better today. I’m missing my friend and the times we shared.
“Time it was, and what a time it was — a time of innocence, a time of confidences. Long ago, it must be — I have a photograph. Preserve your memories. . . ”
Rest in the peace that you never had in this life, my old friend.