And it was simultaneously great and really weird. It’s like, she used to be one of my closest friends in the entire world. Like, spend all day together at school and after school (because we were in all the same clubs, usually as President and Vice President), then spend hours on the phone together when we got home best friends. Like we talked extensively about whether she should go on her first date with the guy she’s now been dating for over six years best friends. Like knew all the sordid details of each other’s complicated familial lives best friends.
And then we went away to college less than half an hour from one another and became people who saw each other maybe once during the school year and a few times in the summer, and we almost never talked in between seeing each other. When we hang out, we instantly click again and the conversation flows naturally and I feel all warm and snuggly inside, but those hang-out sessions are few and far between.
It’s…strange when every time you hang out with a person that was once one of your closest friends, you’re having a catch up session. Having catch-up sessions forces you to confront the idea that you’ve become “old friends” rather than “friends,” that you do not, in fact, know what is up in one another’s lives anymore. How do you get to that point with people? How does that happen? Now you’re all grown up and different and facing all kinds of new issues than the kind you used to tackle together. You used to say “See ya tomorrow” nonchalantly, and now it’s long hugs because you don’t know where you’ll see each other again.
Saying goodbye to your friends at the end of high school is one thing. You’ll see each other again on breaks and in summers; you’ll always be home for something. You live there. Saying goodbye to your college friends is another thing, especially at a place like Princeton. Our alumni tend to cluster in major cities (the two most major of which are within weekend-trip distance) and our Reunions are the biggest parties known to the hemisphere. I will see these people again.
Saying goodbye to your friends from home when you’re moving away from home is a completely different thing. It’s saying I’m never going to be home for this long ever again. It’s saying, “If you’re ever in DC…”. It’s making far-fetched plans to travel to Spain together at some point. It’s saying, “I miss this,” knowing we just have to keep on missing it. It’s not saying, but knowing, that we could very well never see each other again. But like the other big goodbyes, it hopes against its own finality.