Lifelong Friends Only Last a Lifetime
We don't have enough conversations about the love between friends. The love of the those that learn limits with you, that test the malleability of consensus reality in a sweaty garage with you, the ones that climb a mountain searching to prove their mortality behind you, and stand atop that mountain with you when y'all don't die. Where I hail from, and perhaps from where you do as well, love is only counted and spoken of in a romantic sense; Meet, fall “in love”, slam some doors, break up, heartbroken is a common story and common trope. But not much talk of friendly love, outside of a few comedies from the late aughts, which means we never have a discussion on breaking up with your friends.
Some will have you convinced degree of friendship is based simply on number of trips around the sun. The amount of time you've known someone is supposed to mean more than how you have changed within that time. This philosophy seems most pervasive in the falling suburbs and poor small towns. In a train town that ain't seen a train in over half a century if you don't make it away to college or sell your sanctity of self to the state, the friends you made in high school and just after graduation become your “friends for life” in the ensuing race towards death.
You'd be surprised how easy it is to give someone your forever when all of you are actively seeking an end.
Every over-zealous, loud-mouth, extrovert moron with a bottle of rum hot sauldered to his lips (and lord know what coursing through his veins) needs a few good whiskey swilling introverts with a rowdy habit; to greet the Devil with a grin on their faces, when the Ford goes tumbling down the interstate. An early 20's death wish begs for company.
This self immolation crew forge an incredible, immeasurable bond in those flames. But they consume the fire, and death won't come so easily. Hell is what keeps them breathing, and there will be more fires.
If you reach the age of bar drinking without succumbing to her cold kiss, and rolling home to the choir; a feat hard won, but still mostly just a game of chance; and none of you friends literally stab you, Lucky You, Now is when you can settle back and easily relax into the warmth of a nice cozy addiction. Not all addictions are created equal. Not all addicts are at the local crack-house. Some of us are addicted to the high, and the rest of us are a slave to self destruction.
Soon the whole gang vanishes into themselves; becomes lost in the wood, still holding hands, but blind to each other. They will still come together to trade their wares and share libations of passed time, but a sinister game has begun:
An ethereal ooze settles into their souls, inky blackness devouring what isn't filled with drug. An extra dimensional stink labels the crew, and fate is coming for them.
When you're the best of friends...you still can't outrun fate...
...Especially not while tripping out in the woods
One by One they fall, Gone to county one too many times and forced to dissociate from the ball of flame and steel cartwheeling through your hometown or hauled yourself off to the other side of the country, or dead by 25; Kidnapped and framed by a law that views you as a poor useless drug addict; better off making the state a profit behind bars. Some will keep seeking the rock bottom of six feet under, and come out the other side sober, or they will completely detach themselves from culture and reality from the inside out; losing grip with their identity and mentality. All crawling like vomiting snakes to their destined graves of varying size.
And your world burns down around you, as you all spin out of control in different directions.
Hopefully, y'all learn none of you are growing up together as much as you are growing into each other. A thick wall of thorned branches, gnarled and knotted fingers digging deep into one another skin. You must separate to survive even if you must sacrifice some of yourself to do so. Limbs grow back when not trapped in symbiosis, and the worlds moves on; with or without you.
With any luck. You make it through your quarter life crisis without dipping back in to re learn this lesson. It is difficult to come back from a second go. It is even more difficult o successfully re-ignite the embers of friendship after all has been said and done.
It's worth a go, but after you break into such different directions, and there is nothing left to learn each other, and nothing left to teach. Without due diligence and a passion to be capital A Adult friends; to make new memories, what is left? Just the fogged out recollections of fading days since past; a whole nother lifetime from where you stand.
It's not like many people keep in touch with their elementary school friends into their teens.
So, it doesn't take a truckful of drugs and bad decisions to make it impossible to reconnect with a person who knew you as a wholly different person. Nothing makes high school/college friends sacrosanct. They aren't immune to the passing of the hour glass.
Sometimes, those friends who broke from the explosion can not come back; emotionally or mentally, whether they changed or not. Others are only able to drop a line once in awhile or grab some coffee in an attempt to make sure you ain't dead. Anything deeper endangers the years of progress they made beyond you.
The rats who hurled themselves into the ocean, to escape the explosions in the cargo hold, swim away from each other or drown each other, there is no other way. No rats reach dry land while holding hands, and no rat swims back out to squeak about how fantastic life on the ship was. What would they even talk about? “remember that time”-ing and “I know this guy, boy let me tell you about the person he was a ten years ago” is reductive of a relationship and of a person you keep endearing as your closest friend. It is how you breed contempt into an attempted re-connection.
It's impossible to have a relationship with an adult who still carries the banner of a long dead nation.
When you are trying to go into 30 with grace and dignity; looking for the new adventure that will sustain you; having someone living in your shed, shining light on the cob-webbed corners of your checkered past, and holding your dark daze up as glory years they seek to reclaim, because to their eyes life never got better then when you were snow-blind and & chasing your own tail together is not conducive to your needs. It shows a lack of respect for what you went through together and a lack of love for the person you became after you grew apart.
Nothing stings like seeing a grown man moon for the days of 20. Again and Again. Nothing stings the same way as watching someone refuse to grow up. Like sliding a jagged blame over your palm, pouring lighter fluid on the wound, and sticking your soaked hand over a candle.
On the other hand; Some can come back together.
A friend should push you to do better for yourself. Anyone you have any amount of relationship with should only be there if they want with everything in them to see you be the most successfully realized you that y'all can muster. Anyone not taking on an active or passive role in inspiring you to greatness and positive gain maybe isn't looking out for you the way a friend should. Anyone that only wants to be around you so that they aren't alone with the sea deserves to become acquainted with the waves.
Is that selfish? Probably. But only as selfish as life necessitates. It isn't personal to have to cut someone from your life who hasn't grown in the same directions as you need them to. If they care for you the way your friend should, they will allow you to continue down your path to the journey you belong in.
You can't sink an entire ship for one drowning man, no matter how much they mean to you, or how far back into “smoking sh-wag out of beer cans” days you can track your friendship. You'll do no good for anyone allowing yourself to be dragged overboard by your love for someone else. Pray they find a shore and learn to build a boat.
Call me an asshole, cause maybe I am, but I am not telling you that no one can be saved or that risking yourself to help anyone isn't worthwhile. I'm saying that sitting still will kill you on this ocean, and bringing someone aboard who is content to stagnation is a death sentence. And one does not commit a full crew to the sea to attempt a rescue of one person; Those that swim have condemned themselves.
Hope they will make it alive. Love them from afar when you see their crest and colors waving high above the surf, but focus on those who want to succeed or fail with you not those who would be with you as you succeed or fail. Never let anyone willing to settle for complacency, to remain stagnant, ruin your momentum.