TO OLD FRIENDS UNDER HALCYON SKIES

for them

they know who they are
and everything we were

Out of all of the ones we made, there’s one memory with a bite so deep I can never ignore it. It was late at night and we were walking the footpaths that lace the farmland behind my apartment complex. Sober and basking in cool summer air, textbook mountain weather, I remember our laughter waking up our microscopic corner of the world. Horses stood still behind the fences, gawking at our foolishness. The moon tinted our faces pale purple. Magnolia, or something of the sort, moved slowly through the air when we did. We danced under starlight without considering what we looked like: how clumsy our bodies, how awkward our geometry. I remember thinking to myself, in that precious moment stolen straight from a coming-of-age comedy, I hope this never ends.

But it did. And that’s alright, right?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen a single soul in weeks. All I can do is dwell on the dead and buried past. It’s not even about how it all came undone anymore; it’s about everything it was before the coming undone. The shared playlists and midnight drives and drunken piggyback rides and group chats filled with brainless chaos. Inside jokes communicated with just an eyebrow raise, sending us into hysterics at the most inappropriate times, during sleepy lectures in the classes we hated. All of that seems so big in comparison to the horrible finale, as explosive as it was: the mean words exchanged, the hateful silence, the traumatic unraveling. It makes the worst fight seem so juvenile. If I could take back some of the words I said when I was hurt, I would. Know that. Maybe I wouldn’t be forever wondering if it’s still possible to ever share something like that again.

I can’t stop thinking about how sweet it felt, how wholesome, how pure, to be surrounded by a handful of souls that knew mine almost as deeply as I did. And it might be the most painful thing in the world, to one day be a friend and a villain of her own doing the next. To braid each other’s hair and share sips from the same smuggled bottle of white moscato and convince each other that ice cream in blizzard weather is a perfect idea. To fill a whole living room with witchlike cackling and Broadway references and videos of us singing we can’t recall the next morning. I miss them almost as much as I miss all of the parts of me they knew.

It’s hard unlearning the patterns of who we were when we were happy together, recalibrating the brain to remember how to function in absence. Those nights are still alive in a world where the bonds that once held them together are now breathless.

I drink my tea at the same time every night. I think while I do it—of the things I have and have lost. Theirs are still the names that come to mind first. I think of that night and the countless others. The farmers market on my birthday with the cinnamon jam we didn’t buy, the records we flipped through, The Lumineers on the ride home. I think of haunting the aisles of the grocery store and home football games where we’d lose our voices before Enter Sandman. I don’t want to graduate without making things right. Or at least trying, however fruitless the end result.

It’s distressing just thinking about the people we’ll be in one year’s time. What city will have stolen my heart by next May? What impulsive and likely regrettable decision will I have made with my hair? Will I know the newer versions of them?

Or will I never get the chance to?

I wonder if they wonder.

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