Letter To An Old Friend

We were such good friends.  Met at university, hung out together and made each other laugh.   We were often in a group, yet you were always very special to me, and I loved you.

I was particularly touched that you often invited me to things when, post university, my boyfriend went to work abroad.  Debbie Harry.  Stand up comedy.  I never let you know how much you meant to me.

My boyfriend was unfaithful to me abroad, and we split up.  You had known.  I never held it against you that you said nothing.  (I had forgotten that part, actually, until now.)  In any case, we remained good friends.

We drove to France together, crawling through thick fog in my Renault 5.  I was beginning a year’s study there and was delighted that you were accompanying me for the first few days. Some other friends joined us; we celebrated New Year, then you all left me to it.

I think it may have been exactly a year later, again at New Year.  A similar group of old university chums rented a property in France, only this time I had my fiancé in tow.  A man I had met on the course. I am not sure, but possibly it was on that holiday that you took me aside and told me you thought I should not marry him.

Your reason: ‘He doesn’t challenge you.’

I remember very clearly how my mind flew to someone I’d had an affair with, who did challenge me, and what bloody hard work that had been.  My response was ‘Too right!’  BH did not challenge me, and that was one of the things I liked.  It felt so comfortable.  Maybe I mistook it for love.

That was about 25 years ago.

I had hoped you and I would stay friends, but we drifted apart.  I married BH, had three wonderful children, gave up my career and grew stupid. Celebrated our 20th anniversary with a clichéd weekend in Paris.  A month later I came home to find a note on the mat and my husband had fucked off.

At first utterly heartbroken and convinced I could not live without him, a kaleidoscope of mirrors has since been shifting my perspective.   Challenge?  There was one, but I didn’t recognize it.  The real challenge came after.

You don’t appear to be in contact with anyone I still see from those days, but, to my surprise, when I called the company where you work, expecting a dragon gatekeeper (because you have a big job), I was put through to your voicemail.  I left a message; in fact I’ve left a few.  You have not returned my calls.  I am very sad about this, because I really would love to see you.  I mean, I would love for us to be friends again.

The first thing I would want to do, though, is to tell you:

‘Thank you.  You were right.  And I miss you.’

With love from your friend.

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Florence Feynman

I am a middle aged, middle class woman, thinking.

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