She suggests we become pen pals, though we live only a twenty-minute walk from each other, and suddenly it seems like my best friends are always screens, stamps, and several failed plans away. Like I woke up one morning and we suddenly stopped making time for each other. Or maybe it was always that way and I’m only just realizing it.
Another season of Girls ends and the last scene, as Hannah is rescued by her awful mistake of an ex-boyfriend instead of any one of her closest friends bubbles up in me such a raw desolation that I can’t stop sobbing, long after the credits roll. It’s because they all seem so broken and I see myself in all of their selfishness and most of their mistakes but they’re still girls, and I’m almost 28. When do you stop having an excuse for not having it together?
I stay up way too late and think about rekindling friendships long faded, making apologies for why things ended, if I can even remember. Maybe I was too idealistic in how I thought a friend should be. Maybe I could be more forgiving.
Friends Like Us seemed like the perfect read to match my mood. And it is but it isn’t because here’s two best friends that live in their own bubble, mistaken for sisters, a language all their own—it captures perfectly that ease, the support and adoration when you’re just so smitten with a friend that the years before you knew them are almost defined by that. Before careers, schedules and relationships seem to get in the way. Before like in Girls, we start turning to others for help. Why wasn’t it Marnie, Hannah’s oldest friend, that ran to her that night? Was there too much said between them? Too many disappointments? Have they just drifted too far apart? At what point does a friendship start to erode in on itself and can you catch it, fix it, send it back on track? Or is it a kind of inevitable motion, like falling, that you just have to let play out? Set it free and if it comes back to you, yadda yadda yadda. I know now that sometimes they do.
In Friends Like Us you start out at the end, an awkward run-in for Willa and Jane, years after whatever breaks them apart has done its damage and the dust has had time to settle but they don’t rekindle anything. They say the things they’ve been harbouring for years and then they go back to their respective and very separate lives. The rest of the book is what leads up to that inevitable end. It’s depressing but captivating. All the characters are fully formed and nuanced. It’s playful, funny, but sad too, and it’s so full of longing that it’s pretty heartbreaking to get to the end and know that some friendships can’t withstand the things we submit them to. That we can mess everything up but not love a person any less. That no amount of years going by will stop you from replaying conversations, remaking moves, and wondering wondering wondering how you could have done things differently. Maybe that’s just a risk you take when you love anyone, only you expect romantic relationships to end and to ultimately get over them… but there’s no guidebook on how to get over a friend.