I take friendship seriously and it is a hill I’m willing to die on. Platonic intimacy is what keeps our human cylinders firing and we’ve collectively allowed it to become a secondary function of relationships. Your life partner will love you and do things to and for you that a friend cannot (eg. change your last name or bind bloodlines) but what they cannot do is fulfill and round out your life the way friends can. Friendship is the prize. Always.
The rules (because it’s been a while): I write a detailed and specific love letter to one of my friends (past or present) but not with the intention of airing your business, hence the anonymity. If you recognise yourself and wish to be named or even wish to respond publicly, the edit will reflect that.
I always love these because they provide a snapshot of the person I was. We met in undergrad. According to you we met once early on and I went through great pains to explain how to properly pronounce my name. When you inevitably forgot, you didn’t speak to me again for years out of embarrassment. I prefer our 2nd meeting story though, that will serve as the official account: that when you needed a tampon in a tight spot, I offered you a full confection of sanitary products without blinking because once a Girl’s School Girl, always. And you say you seized the opportunity to finally talk to me and asked me to get macaroons at this pretty spot in Rondies after lectures; the kind of place that only people with cars and fancy tastes could possibly know about. I can’t remember if we actually ate macaroons but I remember missing the gym and staying in your car parked in the Pick n Pay parking lot, periodically having to roll down the windows to allow fresh ventilation because we talked for literal hours (Pick n Pay eventually closed while we chatted). And then there we were, a no-brainer. A friendship so obvious that people asked us why we hadn’t been friends sooner or claimed to remember us always having been. You came at a time when my early varsity friendships were were straining to contain our individual growth apart.
You taught me that bouginess didn’t only belong to my rich friends (although your having access to a car did kinda put you up there) and that Cape Town opens up if you’re not bound by Jammie bus routes and timetables or taxi routes. That normal people can buy (some) groceries at “Woolies”, can join Virgin Active or uhm, go to spin classes. That theatre tickets weren’t outside of a student budget, provided that said student has the means of getting themselves to and from said location at said show times (the primary barrier). That if you found the right deal you could have fancy meals and wine pairings in hotel restaurants and opened me up to a whole world of experiences. When the Fugard theatre closed during the pandemic, I thought of you.
I also learned that I was valuable exactly as I was. That I’m more culturally sound than I’d originally appreciated about myself. I remember that talking to you made me feel like my mind wasn’t doing too much, that I wasn’t overanalysing or overreacting, that real cool kids care waaaay too much. That being a nerd was a superpower and there was nothing bad about being enthusiastic and excitable. You even introduced me to Leslie Knope (our enthusiastic capable twin soul mate), to the politics of the American comedy circuit: like, guys! Do you know what they did to Conan o’ Brein?! The Heirarchy of the Late night shows and the gift that is John Oliver. I learned that Greys Anatomy music wasn’t just a genre but that Ingrid Michaelson, Regina Spektor and their musical kin are real life living breathing talents that carried that franchise on their shoulders.
I hope that in turn I helped you too. I watched you bloom and come into your own as a human and into your full cultural identity. I taught you that you first had to disclose your genetic makeup when people asked you what hair products you use. I gently coaxed you into trying new frontiers whilst also insisting that you couldn’t pull off a full head of blue hair but maybe a streak (or a few blue braids) could do the trick and also shield you from Sr Aubin’s ire. I functioned as your translator (sometimes quite literally) and I think I was pretty great at it. I love that we had a crush different parts of the same guy which honestly illustrated exactly how we are similar but different. Almost opposites at times. Both ENFPs but with different dominant P’s. You were in love with Childish Gambino the sometimes corny but always talented and earnest rapper turned artist, me with Donald Glover the NYU grad, renaissance man comedian, writer, actor, recording artist. Interestingly, that’s the only time our taste in men overlapped. Mostly.
I’ll always remember the parking lot chats, rapping everything from Nicki to Hamilton, oversharing about our father’s on a seesaw we were both too big to ride. Eating fancy non-ice cream because of your devastating affliction. Of the peals of shared laughter and crying into each others chests and arguing about baked goods. I’ll cherish getting face meltingly drunk post EOB and realising that performative pretentious conversations in Johannesburg were not our portion. Thank you for affirming for me that being smart doesn’t have to be boring or joyless and I love that I felt free to (rightfully) cuss you out after watching The Red Wedding a good 3 years after everyone else (at your insistence that Game of Thrones was right up my alley). That you understood that my nerdy heart turned to Ultramel custard when Superman raced The Flash at the end of the inferior Justice League movie. That you believed in my Spidey senses and tolerated my Friendship contract (“it’s not in my friendship contract to lie to you” and “this is why we’re friends”), earned high fives, bad jokes and carrying a picture on standby when colleagues confused us. That we have been described as excitable “chirping birds” or “balls of talking energy” by multiple sources. Thank you for leaving flu supplies on my doorstep and leaving “prescriptions” for care instructions (“this is my friend, handle with care”) in my windshield and interrogating the only boyfriend I allowed you to meet. You were one of the most vocal champions of this blog and showed me that my thoughts are worth sharing and that I’m capable of making such strong arguments that sometimes I’m persuasive even when I’m wrong. I never had to be anybody else with you.
I guess the problem became a living breathing elephant in the room that I couldn’t continue to ignore when I realised these two things:
1. When this blog started you were one of my closest friends and were a positive shoo-in for an early Friendship Love Letter. And every time I wrote one for someone I felt bad that I not only couldn’t, but also didn’t want to, write one for you.
I’m glad I wrote it now though. I know you always marvelled at my ability to step outside of a fresh relationship after a break up and have a frank conversation with the other person because there was nothing to lose (what are you gonna do breakup with me?) and everything to gain.
2. When we planned a trip together, I made sure it was somewhere I wouldn’t mind going alone.
We both know how and why it ended and that watching season 4 of Insecure was, uhm, triggering at best but at the end of the day, even though it didn’t last forever: You were consequential, formative and one of the great loves of my life. Nobody’s perfect and friendship break ups suuuck.
I have forgiven you already and truly wish you well. Even though we’re not friends and are unlikely to ever be again, I want you to remember that there were great times too and that though it ended abruptly, I don’t hate you. I want you to flourish, thrive and be the best version of yourself even if I’m not around to bear witness. I hope this is lives up to the post-mortem hype.
“When your song is on and your hand’s in mine
And I’m holding you tight, make it feel good
Let me hold it down, I’m so glad we found
It’s whatever you like, make it feel good “