My friend took me on her family vacation.
Our friendship was one that started slowly. We met six years ago, on our dorm floor, wide-eyed freshman anxious to meet people and fall into the right crowd. For that first year, we had the occasional lunch. We blew bubbles in the sink of a public restroom and had a few movie nights in. We had our own groups of “regular” friends—the ones you go out with on the weekends and tell stories of your everyday life to.
This girl and I spent four years warming up to each other gradually. By the third year of friendship she knew where I grew up and I met her mom. By the fourth year, I was her cat’s honorary aunt. Now we live in the same city, and I see her more than I see anyone in my “regular” friend group from six years back. She took me on her family vacation to Mexico.
We were sitting by the pool, margarita in hand, figuring out which of our college friends we still held close in our lives.
“There’s Mel,” I said.
We listed a few names, talked about the few who we never spoke to anymore. The ones who were falling off the list from distance, from change. The rare loved ones whom we rarely get the chance to talk to, but when we see each other all is exactly the same.
“It’s weird how some people just leave, and you hardly even notice it.”
“Yeah,” my friend agreed. “But I think it’s okay that people leave. Sometimes the two of you just don’t fit anymore.”
It’s okay that people leave—I think that’s something we rarely hear anymore. Our emphasis so often heads toward the dramatic. Big fights, long-distance forgetfulness, regrets and bitterness over something that used to fill you with so much sweetness. But then there are the people who just left, or maybe you left them. Your lives took you in two different directions and you drifted.
You still like their posts on Instagram. You still wish them a happy birthday and smile when you see they’ve met the love of their life. You won’t be invited to the wedding, but you can’t wait to see the pictures. They’re passing thoughts, memories from a distance tinged with nothing but joy. The people you once hugged close and sent birthday cards to and have no explanation for why you don’t anymore other than that you just didn’t fit anymore.
So you left.
“You’re right,” I tell my friend, looking out over the palm trees at the most glorious ocean view I’d ever seen. I look at her next, sipping her margarita, at peace with herself and our world. “I guess all you can do is enjoy the people you have while you have them.”