I can still remember the gift bag and how she held it awkwardly, her finger tips barely holding the handles as she walked to her parent’s car. Her name was Hannah, and she was a year younger than me. I was leaving for middle school soon, and I mourned the probable loss of our friendship.
The concept of time passing was very pressing to me when I was eleven. I clung to everything and everyone, placing emotional weight everywhere and grieving every loss or passing.
I gave Hannah a scrapbook set in a large, flowery gift bag and included a picture of me so that she could remember me. I had to show her how much our friendship meant to me. She thanked me for the present, the obligatory smile on her face. However, before that smile crept upon her lips, there was a brief expression of confusion, like she didn’t know exactly why I was giving this to her, why I was being so sentimental.
Looking back, I don’t think she cared as much about our parting as I did. I don’t know even if she ever even used that scrapbook set.
Time passed as it always does. A best friend moved when I was twelve and our friendship faded in the distance. I lost another best friend in the fray of middle school drama when I was thirteen. The endings hurt, every time, but my skin thickened. I stopped being so sentimental.
Then my senior year of high school rolled around. Suddenly, I was eleven again, clinging to everything and everyone. Nostalgia and melancholy colored those last few months. I had actually enjoyed high school and had gathered over the years numerous friends whom I was going to miss terribly.
I was the only one of my friends going out of state for college, the only one leaving seemingly everything behind. That distance excited me but, it also created a weight in my heart. Once again, I wanted to hold everyone tight, to go on unforgettable adventures, to savor every experience.
My friends didn’t understand. No one made plans on the weekends. No one left their video game consoles and computer screens. No one else seemed to notice the countdown. Their apparent apathy hurt. A lot. I remember crawling under my desk and crying deep, painful sobs. Years later, I realize that that was the beginning of the end for many of those friendships.
At the time, though, I still thought I could keep the relationships alive after I moved away for college. I mean, that’s what the internet is for, right? Plus, I wasn’t leaving for good. I was coming back for breaks. I would see them then, right?
Their faces appear in my dreams sometimes, unsolicited cameos drifting in from the shadows of my subconscious. But most of the time, I don’t think of them. In college, my sentimentality has faded even more and I like to think that I’ve finally accepted that every friendship eventually recedes into the rearview mirror. Lost but not forgotten.
Now another phase in my life is beginning to come to a close. Soon I’ll be out in the world with only debt and a diploma to my name and no idea where I’ll plant my flag. My friends’ futures are equally as murky. Once again, I feel nostalgia breathing down my neck, its warm breath full of sentimental longings to cling to those experiences and relationships of the past four years. I hope I can cope with the change better this time, learn lessons from the past, find some solace in the certainty of the end.
The problem is…endings have never really sat well with me.