The hardest thing to realize in a friendship is when it has become unhealthy.
This is particularly painful when you've invested a lot in that friendship; confided in the friend, shared laughs, adventures, and experiences together. But the human endeavor is a progression of growth where we learn from our surroundings, shared experiences, and communities in order to make things and ideally ourselves, better. Healthy friendships are support systems for both people involved. The friendships you have provide accountability and a gaze through which you partially understand yourself. So it's paramount that the people you associate with care about you and exert as much effort in the friendship as you are putting into it. Because they influence who you are as a person without you even noticing it. The things a friend tells you shapes the way you see yourself, the way they treat you influence your sense of self-worth, and its hard to overcome these influences when they become negative.
I try to go through life seeing the good in people because there was a time when I needed someone to see the good in me and they did. This became a character trait that has carried over into friendships and recently, wrecked havoc. When a person who actively seeks out the good in people enters into a friendship they latch onto the good memories. This was the case with me. As the friendship deepened I began to associate good times with this person -- whom I'd thought in the beginning was becoming another best friend. When things started to go bad I'd replay those good times in my mind clutching onto the promise of returning to them.
The problem occurred when I began to overlook the hurtful things she'd say and do to me in favor of the good memories. As the bad times slowly stacked up outweighing the good moments I'd had with her I began to see how toxic the friendship had become. I think our most daunting moment came when we were sitting on the banks of the Seine by Notre-Dame a month or so ago talking about where, when, and how things had fallen apart. I think this was truly the first real conversation we'd had about the foundational cracks in our friendship. This was also the moment that I realized just how broken it had become. I found myself asking her that day "Where are the good moments in this friendship? Because I can't see them anymore." And I remember her saying to me "I hadn't realized how deeply I'd hurt you."
We had gotten to this point in our friendship where we couldn't even spend more than a day together without getting into an argument -- often a repeated or circular one. There was this lack of communication coupled with hurt feelings that accrued and caused an explosion.
We'd reached a stasis and were locked in this position of operating in opposition to each other yet clinging to the hope of returning to the good times. I think this realization was the farewell moment for me. I'd mourned the lost of her friendship that entire day before we met at the Seine. And when we agreed to give our friendship a second chance, to mend the damage, I think subconsciously I knew it was over for me but I tried again because I wanted those good times back. I convinced myself somewhere along the line that this friendship was good because all the groundwork had already been done. But I am better than that.
I do not have to accept love. I am deserving of a love that is equal to the love I will give. I am capable of being loved to this degree. This applies to every human being.
So, when a month later I found myself, her jacket, dress, and cardigan in hand, knocking on her door for the last time; I had a conflicting sense of relief and angst. This was a person I had spent six months with sharing dreams and fears and being pushed by her to do things that were so far out of my comfort zone that I'd never occurred to me to do them before. I had epic experiences with her and that was all going to end with a double rap on her door. Hours before I'd sat on the floor in my apartment weaving a scenario in my mind of what would happen when I knocked on her door. I envisioned that I would have the bag with her clothes poised to hand over when she opened her door. I imagined I'd say one sentence "Hey, I just wanted to say goodbye." I felt like our friendship deserved this, the finality of that last "goodbye". A word to express our mutual separation and a lament on what we'd somehow lost along the road of trying to change each other.
This scenario; however, was not my reality that night. In reality I knocked four times and the door did not open. There was no closure, no personal finality. Instead twenty minutes till midnight I received a text containing a total of sixteen words which rendered our friendship so insignificant that I felt the familiar rage boil up inside of me again. I, all at once, remembered exactly why this friendship was not working. You have to receive as much effort from the opposite party as you are giving. That night I did not cry anymore, I was enraged by all the ways she'd rendered me and our friendship irrelevant over the last six months. Perhaps without her even realizing it.
A day later, and I'm writing this, sitting on the roof she helped me break onto that night we shoved the door open, planted ourselves with a view of the Eiffel Tower and tossed our friendship with Champagne -- a bottle that later rolled off the roof and rests still a month later in the drainage gully -- and McDonalds Hamburgers. When I think about the times we shared I wonder how I will feel next year at this time when I am writing in my once-a-day journal and I come across an event we'd done together.
All I can think of now is that, I hope I remember why it had to end, that I wished we hadn't gotten to the place where we were continually hurting each other.. I hope I remember how I mourned the loss. I hope I remember how I tried to mend it. I hope I've learned by then to separate our good moments from the pain of our ending. I hope I remember the pain I had to overcome because of that friendship. And I hope I remember the nights we spent sitting at Trocadero until 2am, watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle, listening to street performers, and sharing our vulnerabilities.
So, it's spring break time for me and for the first time this year all three of the schools I attend and the babysitting gig I have, have aligned so that I have two glorious weeks off from any obligations. I could stay in bed all day without pants on if I choose to and no one but the elderly disapproving French lady who lives below me would be able to judge my life decisions.
Instead of doing this though I have decided to spend this time in the typical Anna-Fashion (why that's capitalized I'm not sure; but language is fluid right?). That being reading for fun in a lounge chair.
Normally this would feature a desert atmosphere and a pool. As my spring breaks growing up were spent with my Grandparents at their time-share in Indian Wells; which if you've been to Coachella know that this is just twenty minutes outside of Palm Springs and hot as all hell from March-February. Hence the necessity of the pool. There was this one time in high school I remember staying with my brother when he lived in Big Bear and worked as a Groomer for Bear Ski Resort back when it and Snow Summit hadn't been bought out and there was a freak snow storm that we BBQed in.
My spring breaks changed when I got to UCLA as a transfer-in Junior and got, well, real crazy 😜. My first year there I road-tripped with a student theater club I was apart of (The Shakespeare Company at UCLA) to Ashland, Oregon to camp and attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. My second and last year at UCLA I made a mixtape and road-tripped with my best friend to San Diego to meet her family, go hiking, and tide-pooling where I got to enact my lifelong dream of being a mermaid in a cavernous water outcropping (there is most definitely as easier way to say this).
This year I'm reconnecting to my childhood spring breaks by lounging at various outdoor locations around Paris; mostly gardens. This started when I woke up on Monday with nothing to do and in desperate need of some REST & RECOVERY after the whirlwind that has been my life as a grad student living abroad. So I first wandered aimlessly until reaching my favorite chocolate shop in Paris : Edward's, where I purchased melted chocolate for 4€ then discovered that there has been all this time an English bookstore right next door(WHSmiths; highly recommended cause it's swaggy af and has a secret English tea room on the second floor). Y'all can guess what happened next; with a book I purchased for 10€ I made my way across the street to the Tuileries Garden and sat down on a marble bench to read.
While reading this book and underlining; a thing I've highly missed as I've been working with primary documents; borrowed copies of books, and kindle editions all year. It struck me to do a posting of a collection of favorite quotes from the books I've read over my spring break because if there is one tradition I've kept without realizing it, it's been to read at least one book for fun over spring break. So let's span the last six years of spring breaks with quotes from the books I've read.
Luckily for me I was a deeply geeky young adult who created a blog dedicated to book reviews and was highly active on Goodreads.