I went to a party the other night -- a dear friend's birthday / dissertation / farewell party all rolled into one. It was a lovely evening full of good people and delicious Puerto Rican food and not nearly enough air conditioning and a frighteningly tasty apparently much-loved chilled concoction of rum and lemon-flavored Crystal Light.
There was also in attendance a boy with whom I was once very good friends, and with whom I no longer really speak. To say that I am bitter over the ending of our nearly decades-long friendship, going back to September of 1989, doesn't really get to the gist of the matter despite its being a couple years since we were close.
He was there with his new boyfriend and, despite my studious if admittedly juvenile attempts at non-interaction (avoiding eye contact, engaging in overly animated conversation with those closest to me as he walked by), he went out of his way to come over and introduce the new boy to me. (It's hard, even for me, even after two glasses of the aforementioned rum/Crystal Light concoction, to ignore someone literally waving his hands in front of my face and shouting above the din, "This is Brian!")
Friends Nick, Sarah, and Fu were under strict instruction to give me a quick kick to the shins if I started getting too snarky. (Nick of course said what was the fun in that, let the snark fly! But I was so good.)
Why is it so much easier to be cavalierly snarky than to admit how much something hurt, even after several years? I didn't want a kick to the shins in retaliation for being inappropriately belligerent. I wanted reconnection, impossible and silly and unrealistic as that is (as I always do, and as it always is, it seems).
This boy (man? it's surprisingly difficult to think of someone you've known since childhood as a man) and I have been through a lot together, have held each others fears and sorrows and, yes, even exuberant joys more times than I can count.
It's funny how it's not just a cliche: history really does repeat itself. Over a year ago I was writing about how heartbreaking it was that our interactions had been reduced to awkward air-kisses at social events, and here I am almost a year and a half later waxing nostalgic for him all over again.
At least, I suppose, I'm not the one going out of my way to introduce people to him at random birthday parties. (Oh dear, was that snarky?)