Wednesday, July 27, 2016


It's a phrase that's haunted me for some time: "But you were the best friend that I ever had..." It was one of the more sincere moments in a teary goodbye, where the motives for his invariable return to her remained unclear. I felt for him in that moment, because I realised that in spite of all that he had won, he would suffer a significant loss too. Our discussions about Brazilian garage music, 1980s Garfield cartoons and parental hoarding were these static artefacts now, to be wiped with the passage of time. For that reason, I did my best to record what I could, in the hopes that despite the silence, I would honour and preserve a connection that, for historical purposes, never existed.

I have been contemplating what it means to lose a male best friend, since I have recently had to endure the departure of a long-term guest at the hostel. It was a departure that we both anticipated, but I could never adequately prepare myself for the loss of that connection. It lasted ten months and during that time, I felt desperately gratified when he arrived each Sunday night for another week. We were always thrilled to reconvene, as we were forever poised to share twangy songs over our respective pints of milk. We were looking up opalised inlays on guitar frets when I first acknowledged how hard it would be to lose him: "Who else would possibly do this with me?" In spite of all of the months of emotional preparation, I knew that I would grieve badly (and he probably wouldn't...).

In any loss of a male best friend, I mourn for the conversations we could have shared, but more than anything, I miss the musical analysis. I never lose their taste and my mind is calibrated to identify every song that would have resonated with them. Such associations bombard me and depending on the situation, I rarely share such recommendations, interring such ideas into an imaginary vault. I used to reach out with such recommendations and my greatest ever loss used to do the same, when he would send me a link to a new Smiths boxset or a photograph of handcrafted Totoro profiteroles. I refrained from reaching out to him after a great many years, finally realising that when he told me anything about his life, it made me hysterical with grief. I never came to terms with the idea that these were the lives we had committed to.

I now wait for text messages from my hostel best friend, forever reconciling his stories that most of his text messages never get through due to a network fault. The messages that do arrive are cold, sparse and undetailed. He is busy. He is always busy. These messages never acknowledge any of the plans we dreamt up, going to the Grant Museum or Crystal Palace. Yet I still believe receiving a text will fill me and I wait for it like a drug addict vying for their next hit. I am heartbroken when the drug is heavily diluted with undistilled water. I look for signs of memory, I look for signs of a regard, but like before, I instinctively know that I have been wiped.

I am less inclined to contemplate the loss of a female best friend. I recall the severity of the pain I felt, when my primary school best friend of seven years no longer wanted to have anything to do with me. I grieved when my high school best friend closed off from me, devoting the sum of her energy to her first boyfriend. I struggled when my university best friend wrote a list of all the things she hated about me on her LiveJournal, effectively starting a discussion group with various contributors who all felt the same way. The source of the grief comes from the suggestion that female friends are designed to outlast their male counterparts, by virtue of the fact that a romantic relationship is a contract where feelings must rescind upon expiration of the term.

I feel more disappointed in the loss of those female friends, but I feel less inclined to honour the dimensions of that grief. There is no complexity in their dishonour, there is never any confusion in the sense that a choice needs to be made. I just have been left to decode the distance, forever always convincing myself that the weary excuses to reschedule are merely coincidental matters. I am still sore about the most recent loss and I often recall being locked out, sitting and crying on my front doorstep in the early hours of the evening. My mobile glowed hot on the side of my face as she admitted that she had been deliberately distant. Her guilt manifested itself when she looked across her bedroom and saw all the gifts I had bought for her. She said it reminded her of how much I knew her and how much I loved her.

When I asked why she became distant, she said she resented the fact that I didn't move to London to pursue my dreams. It was a slash across my gut: all those hours you spoke freely, you were actually being judged. I have never managed to adequately express how much it broke my heart but I live with the disappointment and irony of it each day that I am here. She promised to love and restore the friendship, to cultivate it back to its former glory. It's just the same as it ever was, really. The vagueness and the silence, her oblique tweets that I don't understand. I never reach out, I never ask why. I will do nothing to fix this thing she destroyed.

I sit with my friends now in the warm shade of Russell Square. We take photos of each other and say absurd, misheard things that rarely make sense. I say: "You will think of me when we are no longer friends, when you see those big fuffed up pigeons aggressively pursuing those lady pigeons..." My new male best friend is incensed: "How can you say that? That's a horrible thing to say..." But it seems like no amount of love can ever make up for the inevitability of loss. It might happen in the silence, it might happen in their limp regard, but you will feel it in any case... and you will long for that time when they cared.