I got an e-mail from an old friend recently. The subject line simply read “Hi”. I almost thought it would be casual from that. The electronic equivalent of small talk. Of course, what a wrong thought that would’ve been. The e-mail consisted of a paragraph, ending with: “Please contact me.”
I didn’t want to reply. I didn’t want to contact a person I had not contacted in three years.
It was a conversation they’d had. One myself and another friend had had several times in fact. Different versions of it had occurred at different locations when we mentioned previous friends: mutual and also estranged.
“You see the thing about me and you is…we cut people out [of our lives] without thinking twice.”
I pondered those words. How true they were then and continued to be, especially seeing as myself and the person who had spoken them were no longer on speaking terms.
“How is so-and-so?” I found myself asking with an absent-minded smile. One So-and-so was a former confidant, and playground conspirator. Another So-and-so encouraged my rebellions and laughed at my antics. I knew So-and-So’s siblings by name and greeted their parents whenever I saw them. But now this and that so-and-so was simply another name struck of the roll – a scroll almost – of people that had shaped my life and memories. But also, names and people who I no longer spoke to on a regular basis. People whom I forgot to send my new number to. People whose homes I stopped frequenting.
I could not explain why contact had been severed. A swift cut at the jugular like a lamb to the slaughter. It was a gradual detachment. A purging of memories, social media and feelings alike.
Scrolling down the e-mail, I felt guilty. Was it selfish to purge people from your life because they no longer influenced it positively? Because they held you to outdated standards and not expectations that were high enough? Because they were inconsistent with their contact, only making an effort to do so when nostalgia struck?