Chris and I met my friend for afternoon drinks and an early dinner this afternoon. This friend and I met about seven years ago during the summer at another mutual friend’s housewarming party, and we clicked immediately when we met. We had a lot of interests and outlooks in common, and it just felt really easy to spend time together. And unlike so many other people I’ve met in New York City since I moved here about ten years ago, he wasn’t flaky and always committed to spending time with me. It was a refreshing friend experience to have in a city that is so full of people, yet at the same time, ironically, can feel so lonely.
It’s another bittersweet period, though, because he’s now leaving us for a new job in Seattle. His girlfriend will be joining him by the end of the year, so that’s another set of friends I am (at least locally) saying farewell to. When he messaged to tell me he got the job offer and would be moving this month, the selfish part of me felt so sad. I spent some time reflecting on our shared memories together, even the awkward times when I was not in a relationship, his was ending, and I wasn’t quite clear if he had feelings for me or not that went beyond friends. I still remember one thing he said to me that made me smile and feel so odd… seven years ago. We were talking about our full names and what their origins were. We discussed how my first name was chosen, and that my middle name is Vietnamese.
“Your first name is French, your middle name is Vietnamese, and your last name of Chinese. Your name is like the United Nations!”
He’d likely never remember he said this, but I still remember this quote and smile to this day. I wasn’t sure if that was meant to be a flirtatious comment, but it made me feel weird nonetheless. Those words, that sentiment, stayed with me.
I used to tease him about always alluding to things but never actually digging deeper. “What are you, like a robot?” I would say, smiling and laughing. I knew he was capable of having emotion, but he didn’t like to express it, and when he did, it was obvious he was being asked to exit his comfort zone. I realized later it was a defense mechanism he admitted to using so that he wouldn’t get attached to people, especially as someone who had a childhood where he always had to move for his father’s job every few years, which spanned not just cities, but countries. It was too painful to become close to people and be forced to part ways at any given moment. He eventually did open up a bit and gave me credit for trying. He also tried to get to know me more. I was never one for superficial relationships. As a close friend of mine once observed and said to me, “You’re such an intense personality; you will either go all in or not go at all.”
He even called me when I broke up with my last boyfriend that year. He was texting me because he knew the day we’d meet to break up, and we talked on the phone for a good hour while I was in San Francisco and he was in New York. It was so late where he was, but he stayed up just to talk to me. I think of these moments now and wonder what was going through his mind then. But then, it seems silly to think about because our lives are in such different places now; we’ve both changed jobs twice since then, I got into a relationship immediately after, then got married; he started his own relationship that had its ups and downs. They bought an apartment. Chris and I moved into a new apartment. He and Chris didn’t originally get along. Now, they do just fine. A lot has changed. I wonder what it would be like if we had a “trip down memory lane” conversation and how that might actually go.
Time goes on. Life goes on. Memories, as Barbra Streisand sang, are the colors of my mind, of the way we were. But life doesn’t stop for these memories or thinking of the past. Instead, it drags us by the legs to open the doors to our future, which will become new memories for us.