This week one of my very best friends, Noah came to visit with his girlfriend, Kandice. This is the first time I’ve had a friend of mine come visit while I was in a relationship and so, in many ways, this is the first relationship in which I have shared my friends with my significant other. These few days together were laid back and… different.
I have known Noah for 13 years this February. As Stark and I often do, we introduce everyone to each other with three facts. So Noah….
1) I met Noah at a local Ska show at a venue in Arlington called DreamWorld. We became fast friends because of our matching glasses and ability to skank/dance. The show was a battle of the bands. I think someone we knew was playing but I don’t remember entirely what got us both to the same place at the same time other than our mutual friend, Chris.
2) Noah and I went to high school together where he was the first to introduce me to my gang of brothers – boys I will always call my Texas boys and will remain a huge part of my life.
3) I last saw Noah just over two years ago which was the last time I went to Texas to help my Dad pack our house he had sold. Noah has only visited me in Utah once, about seven years ago if I remember right.
Noah’s trip was incredibly short. He arrived just before midnight on Monday night where we all ventured to Arby’s out of starvation. Noah and Kandice relaxed, made themselves at home and slept in which made it easy for me to get all my work done before we would venture out each day. Tuesday afternoon we ventured to Robin’s Nest for lunch, the Salt Lake library to return books, Salt Lake Roasting Company for some coffee and chai, City Creek mall for some window shopping, and Temple Square for a history lesson. Tuesday night we went out to Setabellos for pizza and came home to watch The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Wednesday was a bit more relaxed. We started off the day even later with a Downtown Philly Cheesesteaks picnic at Gallivan Center and some tea at Rose Establishment. After relaxing at Rose we went to Park City for some No Name Saloon burgers and cider. We came home when it seemed super late but somehow it was barely 8:00 and we all crashed on the couch to watch some television together. To my surprise, Stark and I went to bed early. So only two days of hanging, today was Noah’s last day. We woke earlier with the excitement of going across the street to Toaster’s for some breakfast bagels and coffee like we did every morning we were in New York together many years ago. But alas, Toaster’s was out of bagels. So we snacked on what they did have and went to Beehive Tea Room for a morning boost and then Beehive Tea Room was out of the tea we wanted! We stayed anyway and after we all finished our own pot of tea or coffee, we went to Gateway to grab some souvenirs before having pho for lunch and getting Kandice and Noah to the airport on time.
Today was kind of sullen from the moment I woke up knowing Noah was going to be leaving. I had a lot of mixed emotions. I miss our Texas days together desperately. I feel like the biggest thing I messed up in my life was drawing a line between me and the idea of ever going back to Texas and in many ways the ability to even keep in touch with so many of my friends there. It is sad because I can argue that most of my really good friends are still, there. I came back to Utah one too many times and am more against Utah County than I am the idea of going back to Dallas. Because of that, what friends I do have here in Utah have completely moved on and we have no connection whatsoever. We don’t even have that many memories together. What good memories I do have in this place were completely destroyed and abandoned by most of the people I ever associated with. But my Texas life remains preserved and the only thing that has kept me from venturing back is my adamant desire to move on from what are ironically the best memories I have of a place – memories good enough to be heartbreaking. I refuse to go back for no other reason than you can’t ever truly go back. It’s not the same and I insist that it remains just the way that I think of it in my memories. I don’t want to go back one last time just to discover what I already know – everyone grew up.
The idea that Noah and I have grown up so much is something worth celebrating and something that terrifies me just the same. Growing up, in my experience, has always gone hand in hand with growing apart. Our group of friends in Texas who were once so tight are … different. I can’t say that they aren’t still together but it isn’t the same. Most members of our group are married or have moved away. Being one of the only girls from our high school days that remained “part of the group,” I was one of the first to be forgotten and dismissed for having moved away just because of the general “bros before hoes” attitude of any group that originated as just the men. Still, I idolize it. I miss it and it scares me to have no idea where things go from here for any of us. I have never said a goodbye that seemed so uncertain and distinct as my goodbye to Noah today at the airport. We gave long, tight hugs. Twice. And when I got back in the car and my MxPx mix that I had started playing as we went to the airport for nostalgic reasons, switched to a song that was familiar to us both and was somewhat of an anthem during our high school days. I started to sing along and it wasn’t before I finished the first sentence that I was sputtering fast tears from my lips in somewhat desperate singing tones. Noah reassured me. He promised me we’d be a part of each other’s lives forever and reminded me that our friendship is distinct and meant to be. Still, I’m fearful of what that means. I’m afraid that what I have held onto as my one era of good memory will shatter like so many others. I have had best friends before who have hurt me in ways that I can never erase from my memory. I have had falling outs with other members of our small group that remain broken despite trying. I have that awkward feeling with other members of our group where we can’t go back to being friends after even a brief time of dating and nearly all of my friends from before then, from here, and from other cherished eras of my life are already dead and gone. So I apologize if those kind of promises mean next to nothing to me when I know you can’t make them. No one can make them. To me, the idea of “until we meet again” is just as likely that we will visit again two years from now as it is that we will attend each others funeral or stop talking entirely for no valid reason. For now all I can say is I hope for the best…until we meet again.