An Open Letter to a Friend

Hello there…

Last weekend we both came face to face with something that we have both tried to ignore, tried to pretend wasn’t going to happen. We’ve philosophized about friendship, we’ve hung out as friends, we’ve talked openly and honestly as friends, I have celebrated our friendship repeatedly on my blog. And yet, we both knew, I think, that at some far-distant point, we would have to face the fact that you are a guy and I am a girl, and that our friendship had, despite our attempts to say otherwise, remained open to the possibility of another type of relationship. We couldn’t escape that door; we could super-glue it shut, but the creature imprisoned behind it was alive, and would need to be dealt with, whether through befriending it or putting it to death.

On Saturday, in the gentlest way possible, you told me “that we needed to put a period after the word ‘friends.'” That it wasn’t my fault, but just wasn’t going to become that other kind of relationship. And, oddly, as much as I care for you, I agreed with you. Deep in my soul, I knew you were right. Besides, I trust you.

It was right, but I am sad. I am sad because I cannot be certain that I will ever meet someone with the same qualities I so admire in you. I am also sad because, for very good reasons, we will not be getting together every week or so to watch a movie and talk about fictional characters and fuss about the people we love and our personal struggles. I will miss those things very much. Your friendship, over the past six months or so, has given me strength and support to deal with some very difficult events and issues, and I will miss getting all the texts and seeing you smile and feeling your hugs. I will miss you .

But I don’t want you to feel bad. In fact, that’s one reason I’m writing this. Because you should not feel guilty for being honest, not any more than I should for caring for you. I do not blame you; I do not blame me; the sadness is natural. It makes sense, anyway. People our age are looking for a life partner, and toward that end we make friendships, we have crushes, we fall in love, and then we evaluate the relationship and ask ourselves: is this the one? And, no matter how much we love that person, if that person is NOT the one, we’d better just admit it. Things like this just happen. They stink, but they are not wrong. They are, in fact, part of life.

Actually, I want to thank you. I have been in your place before, having to tell someone who liked me that it wasn’t going to work out. And he took it very badly. You know all about that story. I didn’t want to have to do that again. I would have felt so guilty if you had not spoken up, if you had left it up to me to call this relationship-thing what it was. Thank you beyond words for having the courage and forthrightness to bring it up. Thank you for “being the man” about it, if you will.

Also, thank you beyond words for doing it gently. I did not feel cheapened or devalued by the manner in which you did it. You, in fact, said that you didn’t want to keep me waiting, that you wanted to step aside so someone even better could come. You said that your reasons had nothing to do with my personal qualities, and, in fact, praised me. That’s not to say that I haven’t since struggled with self-worth, but it’s more “No one else will be okay with strange little me” than “He didn’t want strange little me.” Thank you for making me feel like a queen (if a lonely one), instead of something cheap. Thank you.

Because you were so very decent about all of it, you have given me a wonderful gift. Despite a sense of loss and the questions about what’s ahead now, there is no anger and hardly any hurt associated with my memories of our friendship. I have no guilt, no regrets, no hard feelings.

I will always be able to look back on our movie-and-dinner nights with a smile. When I watch Guardians of the Galaxy or I, Robot or all of Doctor Who season 8, I will smile remembering the fun of watching them first with you. When I eat quiche I will remember making it for you and then learning how much you disliked cheese. Or brownies! Heaven help me. I want to laugh just thinking of how you praised them so much out of politeness, so I kept making them even though you couldn’t stand them. When I put on my long coat, I will remember wearing it in the corn maze and wearing it to go see Dracula, and how you thought it was cool, not ridiculous. When I listen to that Anna Nalick album you showed me, I’ll remember our crazy Half Price Books day, when we ate a picnic on a narrow strip of grass beside a busy street in the middle of Lynnwood. When I am struggling to be strong, I will remember that you believed I was.

So much good. So much happiness. So many beautiful memories.

And thank you for being a good friend. For listening when I needed to talk. For being a guy with whom I could feel completely safe. For treating me, not like something “other,” but as an equal. Thank you for all the goodness you blessed me with.

We knew we’d have to figure out what it was someday. Thank you for bringing it up and for doing it in a way that left all the happiness and beauty untouched.

Things have changed. We can’t kid ourselves; it can’t be what it was, even if neither of us are quite sure what that even was. But I wanted you to know that, in the words of the Doctor, “you added to my pile of good things.” And those good things are precious and will never go away.

Again, from the bottom of my heart, I say, Thank you.

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