I have had a lot of good friends in my life time. I’ve had some seriously shitty “friends” in my life time too, but we’ll ignore them for now. Lets focus on the good people in our lives, and reflect on how long they’ve been there. Think about your friends from primary school. What about the ride or die friends you had in high school? How many of your friends from Uni/College are still around today? My answer to that: One. I have one friend from all those years, and we live 903 kms from each other. Literally. Every one else has been a relatively recent acquisition in my life, and even then a lot of the people who’ve made an impact over the decades are no longer around.
Whenever I look around my room and see the photos sporadically and spasmodically placed and framed, and blu-tacked to things, I start to reflect. I try to remember the day I met that person and I strain to remember what year I met them. I’m always astonished at how little time has passed between me and those people on the wall. The photo that is currently framed next to my bed features the woman who convinced me to move to Melbourne, a woman I met at a new years party three years ago, and the man who has been dubbed my “super close platonic life partner who everyone is rooting to be friends with Philippa forever”- I met him in February of THIS YEAR. On my bookcase is blu-tacked and framed photos of my friends I’ve had for nearly a decade. I have no separation of love between those old and new friends. They mean the world to me, and they are my chosen family.
There are photos still framed on my wall of people who no longer talk to me. My ex, a friend who got bored of me, people who counted me as dead when I left social media*… My hard drive is filled with photos of people from nearly three decades of adventures, misadventures and nights I can’t remember. They all still have a place in my memory – inside those snapshots of friendships, thankfully caught on digital film. These people are the transient friends. The friends who come in to your life, form a close bond, and slowly (sometimes rapidly) fade out. Nothing really goes wrong, and nothing is ever really hostile, you just outgrow each other in a relatively short time frame.
Sometimes facing the fact you have a transient friendship is hard. Really hard. Letting go of someone you’ve shared things with is never easy, and transient friendships tend to be a fast, passionate burn, rather than the slow lingering warmth that old, lasting friendships emit. At the start, and often in the middle of a passionate connection you can get carried away and feel like it will never end. Time warps and you feel like you’ve known each other for ever; And you certainly can’t imagine your life without each other. You may even make outlandish plans together and tell people you’ll probably end up married to that person, or at least start referring to them as your “best friend” after just a few weeks. Then it fizzles out, you both move on, and all you have left is the plans and some memories.
It’s hard to deal with the loss of a transient friendship. It’s difficult not to start thinking on how your transient friendships reflect on who you are as a person. Your mind will begin to blow things out of proportion, questioning what happened. Did you do or say something wrong? Why didn’t it last? Was there any way you could have saved it? What if you’d done that one thing differently? Sometimes you’ll get bitter. You start mis-remembering things and twisting the story to make a narrative about Good vs Evil. You could start reading in to things that were innocent and now seem noxious. Every now and then you forget the person entirely and that brings a whole new realm of guilt in itself. It’s all natural, it’s all common, but every now and then you need to step back and remember that transient friends are just “for now” friends.
Having transient friends doesn’t discount the good times you had. It doesn’t lessen or cheapen the emotions you had while you were together, and it doesn’t reflect on you as a person in the slightest. Many people believe that people come in and out of your life as you need them, for a reason. Personally that doesn’t quite fit my ethos; But I do believe you can learn from everyone you meet. Whether they can impart knowledge or wisdom, or your interaction with them teaches you patience or vulnerability, everyone has something to teach and you should always be open to learning.
I guess the take away from this is to remember that there is nothing wrong with transient friendships as long as you recognise that is what it is, and don’t fight it. Fighting transience can get depressing and can make you wonder what’s wrong with you. You need to remember that nothing is wrong with you. It’s a normal thing and it happens all the time to everyone all over the world. We – as humans – are pack animals and we need other people, regardless of how much some of us try to fight it. Certain people offer certain things, but when it’s time for them to move on it makes space for a new person and new experiences. So embrace the transient friendship! Fling yourself in to them heart and soul, but be prepared for the relationship to fade and make sure you’ve learned something, and in turn, parted your own knowledge and wisdom on to them.
Until next time, stay silly, kids.
*I really should get ’round to updating the photos. I’m just really lazy.