A Letter to My ‘Gals’: The Friendship is Over
They say that if you’re friends with someone for more than seven years, you’ll be friends with that person for a lifetime. I say that whoever came up with that quip hadn’t factored in ‘travel experiences’ as a variable.
A solid chunk of my friendship circles are made up of people I met in high school, meaning we’re definitely eligible for the whole seven-year-lifetime-friendship thing. And when I was in high school, and someone posted that quote on my Facebook wall as a cute birthday caption, I was overcome with joy.
A friend? Forever? Could life be any better?
Yes, I was a sad 14-year-old. But back then, the only thing I wanted was to be friends with these people for the rest of my life (well, that, plus a boyfriend, skin like the girls on the Proactiv ad and for my mum to fuck off).
But, now, seven years later and sitting in a questionable bar in the middle of Shibuya, Tokyo, I think differently. I think very differently.
There was once a time where I would look forward to gathering on the couch with my friends and enjoying a conversation that was always the same:
“Who’s fucking who?” (Followed by the unspoken competition of who had the kinkiest details and whether anyone had tried anal yet.)
“Oh my god, give me your phone!” (Code for “I need to stalk the people I’ve un-followed off various social media accounts: namely ex-friends, ex-boyfriends, and ex-boyfriends’ new girlfriends.”)
Any sporadic laughter meant we were about to enter a two-hour bitching session about how shit someone was, then the whole heart-to-heart would continue in circles.
At the time, I loved it. But slowly the conversations led to us turning on each other. Why aren’t you fucking this person? Why are you following this person? And after a while, the laughter just seemed to die off.
Contrast that with my last day or two of a month-long stint in Tokyo: I’ve digested enough Asahi to quench a small nation, found iPhone videos that resemble the Blair Witch Project, witnessed a drunken ‘blood brothers’ ceremony and hazed my way through conversations with 50-year-old men about le beauté en rareté (the beauty in rarity).
And amongst all that I’ve also had one great fucking epiphany: how can I recall these interactions—with people I’ve never met—with more joy than I can recall in the last seven years?
Now, I don’t want to pass the blame here (although I’m going to anyway), but I think the taste I’ve developed for travel is what has caused all this. It’s made me realise that I no longer want to spend time obsessing over what other people are doing when I could be enjoying what I’m doing.
By now, I’ve more than likely been unfriended from various social media accounts and will be the subject of the two-hour bitching sessions for at least the next couple of years, but I don’t care. Because I’d rather take a small loss and make again than remain in my comfort zone, on the same couch with the same conversations, and just lose altogether.
As I sink more Asahi this revelation runs deeper—or maybe I’m becoming an alcoholic. But if you’re so caught up in getting someone to validate your bleached hair, asshole and personality, then perhaps you’ve forgotten what you really want. I know what I really want, and it’s more of what I’ve experienced in the last two days (alcoholism or not).
It’s what the beauty of travel can offer me. Because travelling is one of those losses that helps you gain.
A loss of ego, but a gain of healthy restlessness. A loss of the fear of others’ perceptions of you, but a gained awareness of what you think of yourself. A loss of friends who want to emotionally bash one another, but a gain of friends who understand what it’s like to want more than a comfort zone.
A loss of who I was, and a gained reassurance of who I am.
So here’s my advice to anyone finding resemblances between the experiences I’ve outlined and their own: ditch the Mimco makeup and Harley Davidson shirts, and start saving for a plane ticket. Stop paying the price for the judgement you carry, and start paying for excess baggage costs. And don’t be afraid to leave the seven-year-lifetime-friendship thing behind when there’s more to be gained than a touch of alcoholism and a stamp in your passport.
Cover by Ben White