For Cards, Not Friendship

When the check comes in the mail the memo line reads for cards, not friendship, as if I had needed a reminder that we were no longer friends. It arrives the same day the shuttle does, the one that will take me to the airport for my yearly work conference, the same conference that last year I wore his t-shirt home from, that day after the blizzard, when my luggage had traveled on but I could not.

He’s drawn a smiley face next to the word friendship, and if it was intended as a joke it is a poor one, because after more than two decades of knowing each other, when he tells me it is unreasonable that I expect a friend to show up in my life more than once every 8 months, a friend who lives merely three miles away, what he is really telling me is that he does not value me enough to try, and there aren’t enough smiley faces in the world to make that sting less than it does.

I think about him when winter leaves, when there are fissures in things now that the snow has left, seams splitting in the concrete edging the road, runnels of mud in the lawn, and I recall that with birth there is always a kind of breaking, whether it was my body once birthing a boy or this city birthing this spring, green sprouting through ground, a kind of breaking with birth, something beautiful coming from the seams of things, flourishing in the sun.

A month later I will read the last of his text messages to me. It wasn’t his intention to hurt me, he says, and better that we are authentic apart then phony together, and I think of all those times over the years, talking late into the dark, think it sad if he had ever thought I’d shown him anything but the real me, all of those edges and angles, feel something in me, broken. Wish I could view this breaking, too, as a kind of birth.

View it instead as a kind of birth, a beautiful possibility.

Possibility, of something new.

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