I’ll be 30 this fall, that feels like a big deal, at least it does to me – it’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I LOVE birthdays, I can get a little extra when it comes to celebrating and gifting. As I approach the end of my twenties, I find myself thinking about what the past decade has taught me. I’ve learned a lot, and ten years from now I’m sure I’ll say that 29-year-old me knew nothing compared to 39-year-old me but today as I reflect on the past 9-and-a-half years I feel compelled to write at least some of it down.
Nothing has changed more profoundly for me from 20 to 29 than my friendships, the family I picked for myself, those people who inspire more loyalty from me than the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the true loves of my life. The big friendships haven’t changed, my best friend from elementary school is still my favourite person in the whole world; for her, I’d drop anything, she is the person I call when everything goes sideways, she’s the person I trust with my secrets. She is and always will be a huge part of my world. But I’ve also met new people, who have become some of my best friends, people I see daily and couldn’t imagine my life without. I’m lucky to have been able to find so many wonderful people to share my world with and at a point when I thought I might be too old to make new friends. The truth is you’re never too old.
I’ve also lost a couple of friends in the last two years. Last year was especially tumultuous, I ended an incredibly toxic relationship with my ex after three years, and with that I found myself wanting to end other relationships that were toxic. The day after I finally walked away from that terrible ex-boyfriend and made a choice to focus on me I asked my then roommate to leave, she was disrespectful and living with her had become something I could no longer tolerate. At the time I didn’t realize that by asking her to leave I’d be cutting ties with some of our mutual friends. Nobody wants to take sides, everybody does.
It happened slowly at first and then all at once. Friends I used to see all the time slowly fell off the radar, I wasn’t invited to girls nights anymore (the former roommate would be in attendance), and then the group brunches ended, and finally we just stopped talking. We’ll say, “Hi!” to each other on the street, we send the occasional Facebook message (for those I still have on Facebook), but we’re not friends the way we used to be. I wish we were, but what started as an awkward situation has become our new normal, and there’s no one to blame it’s just how these things go.
The final nail in the coffin of one particular friendship, which I thought would stand the test of time, came this week when I realized that a wedding invitation I only half hoped I’d get didn’t show up in the mail. I knew it wouldn’t come. But a small part of me hoped that maybe our once incredibly strong friendship wasn’t entirely done.
This is what happens. I’m OK with it. At first, it stung more than I thought it would, but I’m as much to blame as my former friends. In the past year, I’ve started a new relationship; I spend my non-working time with my boyfriend and our dog. I’ve made new friends through him, and he’s made new friends through me. Our life is more shared than it ever was with my ex (I hated his friends) and so I’ve changed and become a part of someone else’s world in a way that I would have never dreamed possible. Some days this makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the whole damn world.
I won’t ever stop missing those friends I used to love so dearly. I’ll continue to wish them a happy birthday on Facebook. I’ll stop and chat with them when I see them at events and on the street. And maybe one day we’ll reconnect like old flames but maybe we won’t, and that’s OK too because for however long they were in my life they helped me become who I am today, and for that, they will always have a place in my heart.