Last night was one such instance. We had intended to go dancing. We chose Thursday night because by then, Vicky would be back from her various travels and Kelly would not yet have left for her internship in D.C. I was tremendously excited, not having officially “been” twenty-one—and therefore capable of entering any club or bar I please— in the States, yet. We initially made our plan when a bunch of us girls got together at Emily’s house as a sort of “welcome back/good-bye” gathering.
But then people started dropping out. Emily French left for vacation. Emily Holupka went to eat dinner with her friends from college. Becky needed to pack for vacation. Vicky was tired. Thus, Kelly and I were left plan-less and disappointed, both having returned from Europe, with Kelly already about to leave again. I tried my best to make other plans, but my friends just continued to prove their unreliability: Bob invited me to a party in Monroeville, and he was supposed to call me once he was ready to go with the address of the party. Of course, he never called.
After waiting for almost an hour to go to this party, I called Kelly. Both of us were fed up and feeling the overwhelming sentiment of, “screw guys; let’s go get chocolate.” Consequently, we found ourselves parked in Kelly’s van outside the Wendy’s drive-through, eating Frosties and reflecting on our return to the States: how we felt about different aspects of living in the States—I hate having to drive everywhere; she feels weird thinking in partial French; we both despise “needing” so much stuff)—and how different/the same people (our respective families and mutual friends) seemed. We talked about people we know who are in various stages of dying, and how shocked we were about finding out about them since arriving home. This led to discussions about our parents and our random thoughts about their mortality. (What would be our reaction upon hearing the news of our parents’ death? Which parent could handle the other’s death better?) We talked for over an hour, just sitting in the van in the dark parking lot of Edgewood Town Center.
I cannot believe Kelly is already leaving. The two of us have been on separate continents for almost six months, and we’ve only finally returned to the same city in the past week. I have seen her three times in six days, and I feel like I haven’t said even 2% of all I need to tell her, much less heard all that I imagine she has to say to me. It makes me wonder if trying so hard to keep in touch with people is really worthwhile. Our lives are going to take us separate ways in the end, anyway. In a year, I’ll have a job in one city, and she’ll probably have one somewhere halfway across the country (if not halfway around the world). We might never live within one hundred miles of each other again. What will we get out of staying in touch, other than more stress and renewed memories of a former friendship?
It scares me that I am asking myself these questions, because I have always been the one to insist upon staying in contact with others. I never considered distance anything more than an obstacle to overcome. Now the future, with its jobs and adult-ness, looms before me, begging the question, What is really worth my time and effort? Should I keep harassing Kelly when she doesn’t e-mail me back for two weeks? Should I spend the money to call her? In the end, I fear it might all be nothing more than an exercise in futility. People need people in the here and now. They need bodies. They need faces.
I am really going to miss that girl.