I look around and can’t help but try to inventory the people in my life.
I have a handful of people that are firmly in the boat with me…. a handful of people have jumped ship (or, if I’m being honest, in some cases I’ve shoved out of the ship)… and then this not small group of people that are just sort of floating in the water.
They aren’t here. They aren’t gone.
They aren’t my good friends anymore. They aren’t my mortal enemies.
They are in Friendship Limbo… the purgatory for the people whose email address is still in your contacts or whose number is still in your cell phone, even though you never talk or see them anymore. But the deletion of them… off email, off cellphone, off Facebook is so final that you can’t quite bring yourself to do it.
We might hold on to them out of nostalgia or out of obligation. So that if they DO call you some day, you won’t have to ask the dreaded question, “Who is this?” So if they get married or have a baby or die, maybe you will be told… because you don’t really know them anymore but you loved them once. You would care if they were hurt or gone. You would be happy for their joy if they found love or brought new lives into the world. You would offer them comfort if they needed it. You would help them if they asked for it. You would let bygones be bygones. You would.
Because maybe they post the occasional picture on Facebook and you can catch a glimpse of the person that you used to be close to and know that at least, they looked happy for that moment.
Because maybe some day they will change. Or you will change. Some day we won’t care anymore about what drove us apart or we will find a new connection that brings us back together in a way that is not the same, but better than before.
As much as I hate to consider the possibility… maybe, I’m getting what I deserve… these people on land… these people floating in the water… and me, in the boat, with my handful of people that I can’t bear to let go of… my handful of people that won’t LET me throw them from the boat, even when I try… and I do, sometimes… a fatal character flaw that makes me run and makes me shove. Makes me act like such a jerk that if you stay, if you don’t leave then I really, really know you are there and not leaving… no matter what. I am, admittedly, a complete pain in the ass.
Have you ever tried to pull someone back into a boat, when they’ve fallen (or yes, dammit, been pushed) out? Waterlogged, slippery, without a firm place to plant their feet and push.. they flail and splash and choke. Sometimes they just try to hold on to the side for as long as they can. Sometimes, they give up and swim away to land.
But sometimes, you grab onto their hands and pull with all your might and somehow they flop over the side into the boat and you both just whoop and drip and try to catch your breath and grin at each other…
Sometimes, that happens.