How do you forget someone when his footprints are all over your life?
The opposite of love turns out to be indifference, not hate.
A decade ago, nothing in the world happened until we had a chance to talk about it. Now, we say hello and catch up if we happen to see each other on the street.
A friendship based on occasional, chance encounters after so many years of exchanging so many words. No! I will match his casual desertion with my own more powerful indifference.
It’s surprisingly easy to avoid someone in the city. But my first attempts at this strategy (“do friends require strategies?” I can hear him asking incredulously) collapsed the last time I ran into him. The gaping blankness between us seemed too unnatural, too hard to sustain. So we reverted to the familiar: the reconciliation coffee, the fast-paced, slightly panicky conversation about everything and nothing, the sensation that I’m unreasonable, the parting without a plan, the “see ya.”
Reality itself depended on the sharing of trivial quotidian episodes- a strange item in the Times, gossip about an acquaintance, a lovely boy on the street. To not exchange these things, it’s more than loss. They don’t fully exist until conjured to interestingness by our speaking about them. The raw experience contains within itself the prospect of the upcoming telling. Event and anticipation are one, and now event alone is chronically vacant, unfinished.
Eventually, the friend years will seem like a dream, over-written by the new, indifferent passer-by years. Eventually, every day without a message will stop seeming like a distinct, stand-alone sadness, and weeks and months and years will zip file into a single loss. Eventually, I will stop stumbling upon postcards falling unexpectedly from old books, with messages like:
Minneapolis, August 28, 1997
Have you read J. Updike short story The City? I haven’t either but I think it feels like today.
Eventually, I will not rush to the library to find that story.