Thoughts on loss as I load the washing machine

Losing people hurts.

No, I’m not only talking about death, although that of course is the most extreme and sadly a very common example when thinking of loss.

And no, I’m not really talking about breaking up with a romantic partner either, although that is also a very common loss and more close to my thoughts right now.

What I meant to say is that losing friends hurts.

Not in the way of death and of the breaking of a romantic bond but no less hurtful for that.

It can be way more subtle, you drift apart for years until you realize that the person you have in front of you share all the mannerisms and memories with the person you once knew. But like a hollow doppelganger, they just aren’t that friend anymore.
Personal growth, experiences unshared and choices you don’t have access to have stolen them away down a path you can not follow on.

This feeling, although false as you both have drifted, can be devastating.

And I think it can go both ways. Sometimes you can meet up with someone and you realize that they haven’t changed that much, they are still very much like that friend you knew. Not that they haven’t grown. Just that their trajectory may have changed changed them less in those areas that you know to look at. But you have changed. Maybe for the better, maybe for worse, almost certainly both. And you just, don’t find them interesting anymore. Their quirks, beliefs and mannerisms may irritate you now, or at best bore you.

I think both times can be equally hurtful in a way.

I don’t know if there is a point to this.

My best friend, a whirlwind who always has a new fascination, a whirlwind who takes me to dinner on particularly gloomy afternoons, who scoots home through foreign rainy Italian cities after drinking cheap bottles of red wine.

My best friend, whose voice I’m starting to forget.

She is standing at the end of the yellow school hallway reading a Berlin guide book. I smile as I walk by. I know her, I think to myself, but I didn’t know she was going to Berlin.

She sits next to me in History class and fiddles with the bandage wrapped around her knuckles. I know her, I think to myself, but I didn’t know that she had hurt herself.

Our memories tie my heart to hers, hers to mine, but they can do little else. They promise me nothing.

I keep smiling as I pass her in the hallway, and she keeps sitting next to me in class.
It is a silent charade
and I do not know who we are trying to imitate. And so I think of loss as I load the washing machine. And so I wonder what this is trying to teach me.

I’ve been part of many collections of people on my way from birth to here. Most of them are now people I barely know anymore.

Between 11 and 12 I ran in a pack of boys that roamed the block I grew up in. But then, one day, as if we had rehearsed it for months, we all stopped calling one another. At times I see them as i walk in the city. We nod to each other, knowing that we no longer have anything to talk about.

As I became 13 I became one of the members of a merry band of nerds. This group expanded over the years, and then, as we eased our way slowly into adulthood, members left. To start families or careers or simply because they didn’t have the time anymore. I remember them fondly although I would never lift up the phone to call them. And I still have friends from this group that I know today but we are now something more akin to family once removed. We keep tabs on each others life but we don’t meet too often so that the starkness of our differences can be mollified by our shared nostalgia.

At 15 I joined a now lost crew of make-believers. We’d spend hours on end telling tales and I attribute much of my initial growth as a storyteller to that time. But as I reached 20 we drifted apart. I remember this bitterly quite as these were people close to me even then and I felt betrayed by them for not calling me back each time I tried to reach out. As I grew I recognized that they had had their own troubles and that I had been harsh in my anger. I met them quite recently on happenstance, for a big part of the group still gets together. I recognized them, the friends that once were are there deep inside of them and they have grown in ways I suspected may come to be. But that growth is perpendicular from mine so I left the chance meeting fast.

A few years ago I was adopted into a coven of witches. And although I shift in and out of their lives we keep an almost daily contact. I don’t know if we will drift apart, my experience tells me that we will. But then again, experience isn’t beautiful for it’s permanence.

I do think that each of these groups filled a function in my life. Each with their foils and lancers and hearts. And each have made me grow.

I don’t think that the losses of these people could have been avoidable. Not with the road i have chosen for myself.

Maybe that’s the point? That loss is the flipside of growth?

Dearest T,

Remember when I held you in the shower after your panic attack after that douchebag boyfriend of yours had dumped you, after you lost your job, after you lost your mom and you said through your tears ”ALL THIS FUCKING OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWTH” and the crying mixed with laughter as the water mixed with my clothes and I was completely soaked. I had just been on my way from the office, I was heading to a tinderdate but you called and said ”can you come over?” And i heard in your voice it was important and i biked as fast as I could and used my spare key and you were there in the shower, naked on the floor with all of your plants there with you and I held you and brushed your hair in this jungle of yours.

I think of you at least once a day.

I just moved back like a week ago but I haven’t dared to call you and also I saw on instagram you were moving away. Maybe you already moved? This city is just filled with traces of us, we were like little slugs and did a good amount of staining on the benches and floors and stores and kitchen-tables. All of the sweat and tears and blood and saliva and fluids. But also our tag is everywhere still! I saw that little long finger while on the metro last night.

I finally put the shirt I borrowed from you the last time we saw each other, the green shiny one, in the washing machine. I am gonna wash it, 60 degrees. My finger is hovering over that start button, when I press it the smell of you will be gone and with it maybe I can start to let you go?

I thought we made promises to each other to always be the widow friends and hold each others hands and go to Ikea with each other and things like this. We were E.T together, so extra terrestrial, so loving with glowing hearts and fingers and toes (but weirdoes ofcourse)!!!

You would always have the decency to break up in person with your stupid silly dates but somehow you are ghosting me for over a year now. You were angry at me and now I am very angry at you. I think you’re a coward. I am stalking you on instagram so I know that you are having a baby and I am happy for you, but it also breaks my heart because I always imagined being there, holding your hand through it.

I feel like you are this unresolved knot. Can we not just see each other? Just once? Can you not scream at me and I can scream at you, we can have a little JuiJutsu wrestling match (be careful i have been working out) and then its all good? It really feels like a nightmare to not have you in my life anymore. So much has happened since we spoke.

Loss is a flipside of growth and as I load the washing machine and wash away the stains and traces of what has been, the fabric gets thinner but also softer, cleaner, and at some point breaks completely. I don’t know what really happened between us or in you but I know that I miss you and I love you and I am really really sorry and AFOG (another fucking opportunity for growth) and goodbye and goodluck with the baby.


I miss us at times.

In a nostalgic way, my mind filters away the betrayals and the sniping and the general way we made each others lives bad in the end.
I miss us sometimes, but I to say that I regret us parting our ways would be lying.

It’s almost 5 years now to date and I washed out everything that held your scent the first few months. I’m actually horrible with dates but that one stuck with me. It was when I came home from that festival, with energy to spare. Finally ready to actually talk things out with you about how things had been. That night, we ended it.

I think that it was a wake up call for both of us.

Neither could provide what the other needed. I couldn’t be the person you needed me to be. Neither could you be that one to me. And trying to be had slowly made us resent each other. Do things that would hurt the other.

I wouldn’t call our relationship toxic, it hadn’t reached that point yet, but it was going there.

I’ve grown much in these 5 years. Defined boundaries and realized what I want. And, perhaps just as important, What I don’t want.

Through the loss of us I have somehow gained what I am.

So yeah, I can miss the good times we had. The walks in the woods, having sex in the laundry room, learning to surf in Spain, cuddling up on the sofa on Thursday nights watching Dr Who after climbing practice.

But, and I say this with the utmost of love, I never want you back in my life. And I think that feeling is mutual.

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You are not who I wanted you to be.

But once you were.

Once you hold my back, once I hold yours.

In this foolish universe of adulthood

I can just recall – or is it how memories are created –

The days.

I didn’t let you down.

You didn’t let me down.

And although we disappeared when it seemed

That life was getting bigger than life

There’s nothing to feel bad about.

Promise yourself that we were good

When we could.

Hold my hand and whisper my name

For I have not forsaken you.

It’s the memory of me that stands still

And it will help you when you ask for it.

I don’t think it’s loss.
It’s not loss if you’ve never owned anything in the first place.
We don’t possess other people. The best we can is inhabit them.
The best we can is to be besides them and crawl under their skin.
I, I have never thought about loss as organic. I think we impose loss.
It’s all how you think about it. You can be a stone.
Aren’t we all made of stone?

That’s from a popular song by the Stone Roses. Or something.
I used to be happy when I listened to it.
Now I’ve lost that too.
I lose things all the time. I was lying.