The time of your life

Debra Flax

The night before my high school graduation, I sat in a friend’s car and talked to her about everything from the day we met to the trouble we were going to cause in our future nursing home.

“College is going to be great,” she said as we thought over our anxieties and excitement. “And we’re going to be great there, too. Together.”

A couple of weeks ago, I had the distinct misfortune of watching that life-long friendship fizzle and boil down to a very harsh end. Though I had been expecting it for some time, I still felt an immense amount of pain and sadness when the moment finally came.

For the last year, I’ve watched one of the few friends I’ve ever had such a close friendship with morph into someone I didn’t recognize and didn’t want to recognize.

Someone once wrote that, “True friends are like snowflakes, each one equally special, yet somehow always unique.”

And while that may be right, friends can often be like snowflakes in the sad respect that they will melt away the tighter you hold them close.

“These are the unfortunate casualties of growing up, sweetheart,” my mother said as she tried to console me afterwards. “People change, just as you do.”

Right then, I became very jealous of Peter Pan, the quintessential forever young. I thought, maybe if I never changed, then everything around me would stay constant too. I thought if everything stayed the same I wouldn’t have to hurt like this ever again.

Of course, when reality set back in, I realized that the only thing constant in this continually spinning world is change. Cliché, but oh so true. Change will happen whether you accept it or stubbornly fight against it. Even “the boy who refused to grow up” realized that when his lost boys left with Wendy.

Despite the mundane quality of change, it’s never easy giving up on a formerly devoted camaraderie and realizing defeat when you really don’t want to let go. But then again, what was I holding on to? She and I hadn’t been as close since starting college, and it seemed as though I was desperately fighting to keep a mere acquaintance who had, once upon a time, been like a sister to me.

I’ve noticed sometimes, when I can’t sleep, that I think about what might have been had we stayed the same kind of kids we were when we’d been friends. I think about whether I could have done something as my “new self” to ease the transformations within our friendship. And lastly, I wonder if she’ll remember our friendship the same way I will (or will try to remember it at least).

And then I hear in the back of my mind a small, Peter Pan-like voice whispering in the darkness.

“Forget them. Forget them all. Come with me where you’ll never, never have to worry about grown-up things again,” it says.

But we can’t simply stop time to avoid changing into the people we’re destined to become. And, as painful as it can be, we can’t just forget the driveway discussions and the time we spent with people no longer a part of our life.

Friends change, situations transform, different paths are traveled and life goes on.

Debra Flax is a sophomore majoring in journalism. Her column runs on Thursdays.