2015 is my year of the real in friendships. So here’s goodbye to friends I didn’t want to let go, but who went anyway.
Dear Friend, the rambler who plotted out gentle slopes in deference to my decaying hip then took my hands when I wouldn’t let these old bones stop me from seeing what grew under the bridge. You introduced me to the disconcerting call of stags. When inexplicable dread and grief chased me off a Scottish mountain, you told me the history of where we’d been, the lives lost at Glencoe.
You imposed celibacy on yourself to protect women because innately, you felt you were selfish. It became a joke between us, you the flirt who always wanted to hear stories of my sexual conquests. I secretly believed that you could care for someone more than you did for yourself. When I met someone whose most intimate moments I kept private, there were no more gentle slopes with you.
Dear Friends, the gregarious who slept in my beds, drank my grog, soaked in my Lush baths, cooked so I wouldn’t and wore fancy dress with abandon, decorated for parties and helped in the garden, slept in the hammock and sat round the long table, talking and laughing, brought out the fiddle, shared your writing, bolstered my off-key voice with your own. We shook the trees and ate all their plums, trespassed on Lord Muck’s land, sat in the dark, nibbled by midgies as we waited for owls.
When the Butler deployed, you filled my rooms with your children. I felt myself uniquely blessed by each and everyone one of you. When that house and that garden were gone, you couldn’t answer an email or meet me for dinner or lunch or a drink or even wave from the window as my train went past your home.
Dear Friend whom I’d see in the halls at work, all tall and thin and beautiful. I didn’t know you. I only knew all the men wanted to fuck you. Some of the women, too. Then the boss sent us to Dublin. We stayed too late over dinner, ran under street lamps by the Liffey, laughing and running and missing the train, talking all the way home in the back of the bus. Our birth of friendship.
When you hanged yourself on the back of a door, they never forgave me, you know. I never forgave me either.
Dear Friends, is it a wonder that now I hesitate to risk, and conclude that it’s me?