Received phone calls this morning from two old friends. Both were part of the very small group of 3 that were with us when we got married, all those years ago. One kind of drifted away, and we stopped talking. We’d been extremely close for a period of time, and I suppose it just fizzled out. She’d show up every now and then, then she’d be MIA for months. Eventually she became MIA permanently. Yes, I know the phone works both ways and I could have called her. But I didn’t. Anyway, she called to invite me out for her birthday this weekend. I said I’ve already got plans.
The other is a childhood friend. We’ve been through a ton of shit together. We’ve annulled our friendship many times over the years. I’ve heard you don’t really know your friends until you get into a fight with one. By that measure, we must be great friends. He’s one of the few people I’ve stopped talking to and actually started again. But we were always able to pick up where we left off. Lots of friendships can’t survive that kind of thing. And the other thing that's exceptional about our friendship: we can just sit and be. You know that scene in Pulp Fiction, when Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace are at dinner right after they meet?
Mia: Don't you hate that?
Mia: Uncomfortable silences. Why do we feel it's necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable?
Vincent: I don't know. That's a good question.
Mia: That's when you know you've found somebody special. When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence.
(Long before we got married, my husband and I spent many hours just sitting together, doing nothing, talking about nothing, just enjoying being in the same space. It's one reason I know I married the right person.)
So, this morning I heard from two old friends, both unexpected calls. The major difference was in my reaction to the phone calls. In the first, I was pretty quiet, made polite inquiries as to the health of her family. In the second, instead of being guarded and wondering how long it had been since I’d talked to this person and why they were calling now, I said, “Hey, I’ve missed you! Whatcha doin?”
The fragility of friendship has always interested me. You don’t always need a big reason to stop being friends with someone. Sometimes, you need a big reason to remain friends. And when it comes down to that, I’d say your friendship has just expired.