Do you sometimes dream of someone who isn’t in your life anymore as if they still were? I do. Not daily, but consistently. And then I wake up missing them. Wondering what went wrong, and it breaks my heart a little every time.
I know that there always is a reason as to why people leave your life. Sometimes it is a fight, sometimes it’s lifestyles drifting apart, but the ones that hurt the most are the silent ones. The ones that just leave one day and never really return. In my experience there are only two reasons for leaving silently – you either feel too much or you don’t feel enough, bordering on not caring at all.
Granted, I am not a very good friend. Or an easy one.
I tend to get so lost within my own drama that I keep forgetting to reach out. Maybe it’s unfair to accuse someone of not caring if I appear to be insensible as well. And to be honest, there truly always seems to be a reason as to why people leave your life – you usually realize that once you see them again, meeting a totally different person from the one you remember.
Still, in those dreams they are still there, and they still care.
Maybe it’s my unconsciousness not dealing with something. Like letting go of the past. Or maybe it’s a way of looking at a situation again without all the feelings involved. My dream last night was about a friend I once had.
Well, we only ever were sort of friends in a way. Though we shared a silliness most people would call childish and on some level an understanding of each other’s fears, we also shared the need to build shields around ourselves. His were different than mine, but they served the same purpose.
I still remember the day we met: I had just turned 18 and me and my best friend were hanging out at the café he used to work. Not really work, more like volunteer, but it takes too long to explain that café-situation, so I’ll just skip it.
So, it was a very hot summer day and not many people were there when one of the regular guys came in with his newest boyfriend. They both were a little hangover but still riding that rush you always in the first days of a new relationship.
It was clear that the regular guy was very smitten with his new boyfriend. If I remember correctly my best friend even teased him about it.
Back then I wasn’t as closed off to people as I am now, but I already had that weirdness a lot of people found very irritating.
To this day there are very – very – few people that hit it off right away, but this stranger was one of them. Actually, we hit it off so well that his boyfriend got a little jealous and my best friend got more than a little irritated.
But though he made a lasting impression I didn’t see him again for months after that first meeting.
His romance with the regular guy was very short-lived and so they never came around the café again, since he lived in a small town pretty far outside of Munich.
It was about three months later that our paths crossed again. I went out with some friends to party and he tagged along as the new boyfriend of one of the guys (In case you are wondering: Yes, I did hang around gay guys a lot back then. It was partly because my best friend was gay and partly because I didn’t do very well with heterosexual men. But both are different stories.)
Just like the first time we got along extremely well. He felt like someone I had known for a very long time and again, his current boyfriend was not very happy about it.
This time we also exchanged numbers and stayed in touch.
Shortly after we went to another party (with his boyfriend in tow) and even after he broke up with that boyfriend we became friends. Kind of friends.
He always was different from all the other gay men I befriended. First off, he wasn’t a big fan of my best friend (which back then was one of the main reasons for other gay men befriending me) and well, he wasn’t entirely gay. He was – sort of – bisexual.
He was a lot of “sort of” things. Fun to hang around but very tight lipped when it came to talk about serious things – at least if they were about himself. Like me, he had a father that wasn’t really in the picture and a mother that was kind of overbearing.
But somehow, we clicked and back then I didn’t really want to think about that underlying attraction we had.
He was good looking, but not one of those impossible beautiful guys. Not like my best friend was pretty. But he had a spark that just drew people to him – it was what made him the center of every party and all the boys and girls go stupid over him. I wasn’t going to be one of them, so we just became this sort of friends who went to parties or the cinema from time to time but never got really close.
Until we did.
It all changed when my female best friend met him.
Unlike me she admitted right away to being very attracted to him.
I didn’t like that.
But since he didn’t seem to share her feeling I thought it would be fine.
Because somehow, we three started to become very tight friends. Friends that spent every weekend together.
To cut the story short is escalated to the point where I told him how I felt about him. He was the first guy I ever told face to face (without being completely drunk) that I like him without knowing if he liked me back.
To this day, I have only ever done this twice.
Needless to say, things got complicated.
First, he didn’t want to get into a relationship with me because of my best friend. He knew that she had a crush on him, just like he had known that I did too.
It was only later that I found out, that he had been in a relationship back then and for a while he couldn’t decide what to do.
It went on for months, in which my best friend got herself a boyfriend and I just kind of gave up on me and him being anything more than friends. Until he finally decided on me.
To this day I am not sure why.
The relationship that followed was a complete disaster and ended shortly after two months. We crashed and burned very fast because being in a relationship where both partners try to hide their true feelings behind a shield of indifference out of fear of being rejected, is not a very good start of a relationship.
For a while I was devastated.
But I had just started an apprenticeship as a nurse, had moved out from home and all was new and shiny, so I just buried myself into it.
I missed him, but for a few months I couldn’t even bear to hear his voice.
After a while though, we started having contact again.
We met, went to a party, talked. Honestly this time. He told me that he had been afraid of me, but didn’t elaborate and it drove me a little crazy, but I was determined to be his friend again.
Just his friend.
Let’s just say that didn’t work out: Soon after we started hanging out again we got back together again. This time it lasted barely three months and after it, I was done with my feelings for him.
We stayed friends though until some other guy almost drove us apart again. And shortly after that I left to stay in Ireland for a while.
Being a nurse wasn’t for me, so I quit the apprenticeship and decided to leave Germany for a bit. I needed to expand my horizons.
When I came back after a year, things had changed.
My best friend had a steady boyfriend for the first time in his life, my female best friend had dumped her boring boyfriend for a guy she called “the love of her life” and me? I came back heartbroken.
But that also is another story.
I also came back determined to find a study course at a university.
Me and my ex-boyfriend and sort-of-friend tried once more to be just friends. Some ugly truths surfaced during that time, like the fact that he had cheated when we were together the second time. And then he got a job at the other end of Germany and moved to Hamburg.
I stayed behind, got a job while still applying for study courses. To this day I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but somehow, I set my heart on Hamburg.
Everyone thought it was because he was there, but that’s only partly true. I was still heartbroken over what happened in Ireland, but I was also heartbroken over what happened with him and how all my friends seemed to start a whole new live without me. How everyone moved on, but I came back feeling the same I did when I had left.
So, I did what I always do when I can’t deal with something: I run away.
And I did go to Hamburg and studied there.
And because I always must out-do myself me and my ex-boyfriend / sort-of-friend decided to move in together. As friends.
We never had a relationship again but somehow being friends and living together destroyed what had drawn us together.
Soon we drifted apart until we weren’t really friends anymore but two people happening to share a flat.
He moved back to Munich before I my study course was finished, so I had to find a new roommate.
I only ever saw him twice after that: A week after I had moved back to Munich, we went to grab lunch together.
And then five years ago.
The only contact we have had since then was an occasional chat on Facebook or WhatsApp but nothing more.
I am not sure if I do want to change that. Or if I should.
The truth is, after dreaming of him yesterday, I realized something: We never really were friends – there always was this underlying attraction I had for him that got in the way and once that was gone I think I resented him for all the hurt he caused me.
Though it was not entirely his fault of course. It always takes two people to ruin a relationship and if I think back now, I am pretty sure what ruined us was our inability to let people in.
If the stories he shares on his Facebook-account are any indication, he hasn’t changed much since we parted ways. He still only has relationships that only last a few months, still thinks no one really knows him and struggles with his inner demons.
Just like me, minus the relationships.
We were like mirrors in some ways and even though that was what drew us to each other in the beginning, it also was what drove us apart.
Still, dreaming about him reminded me of something else: I miss him.
Not the relationship-crap but the parts that made us friends. The silliness and the shared feeling that we were different. Not better or worse.