Pinpointing the moment where we stopped being whatever we were is as difficult as describing it. It's been so many different things over the years. Mates and best friends and partners in crime, sisters and team mates and constants. We went to pre-school together, and school together, and stuck together loyally for four years of college, even when we went different ways. Seventeen years of us two.
You're in so many memories, inextricably linked with almost every part of my childhood and teenage years. I called you by my sister's name and my sister by your name when I was excited and talking fast.
We were in the same classes, we were each other's buddy for everything. I never suffered from lack of friends during school. How could I? I had you, and we didn't need anyone else. I wonder sometimes if it was healthy, our co-dependence. But we didn't seem unhappy then, or scarred now. You have friends, I have friends. We're doing okay at relationships, I guess.
I was the bossy one, always braver, taller, louder. You used to drive me crazy, me wondering what you were thinking as I poured my heart out to you. I remember trying to hug you once, the afternoon your house caught on fire and your family came to our house for dinner, and you standing cold. You didn't need to talk. I wasn't even that hurt at the time – it was my fault. I knew you didn't need me to hug you. Sometimes I wondered what you did need me for.
But it lasted. We bridged the gap between different colleges. We had weekends, texting and phone calls. I used to call you, and we'd talk until the phone grew hot against my ear. We'd go for smoothies at the village café, we played social volleyball and netball and touch rugby in the same team. We went swimming at the pool, we went camping at the river with our siblings, spent a lot of time on the swings at our old school.
I never saw it coming. I thought we'd made it through the worst part – leaving school to go to different colleges. I still don't know why, exactly, you did it.
I think it started when I met K properly. K was a new friend from school of yours. I was determined to like her, because I knew you did and I knew she was a good friend to you. I think that day went well. K was very different to me. But we bonded over teasing you, our common ground. I ended up genuinely liking her. I wanted you to have friends, and K was a good person.
But it was after that when you slowed down. Texting back, calling back – always low on credit, you became near impossible to contact. Well. I could text you. You just barely ever texted back.
I did something bad next. I texted you, invited you to a movie. You texted back, said it sounded good. I called your house, but you weren't home. So I left a message. I asked you to call back to confirm that you could make it. You never did. I waited. But I didn't call again. I should have. You've always been bad with phones, getting you to call anyone was like pulling teeth. But I was sick of having texts ignored. I wanted you to call me. Finally, I called your house, hours too late for the movie. You were gone, at your mom's house in the city.
We haven't spoken since.
I've texted you. You snapchatted me once – in reply, of course. But you haven't been to your dad's in ages. I get it. I do. Your mom lives closer to your college, you have football on weekends. You're busy.
Everyone's busy, this year.
We haven't had your family for dinner in months, for one reason or another. I see your dad and brothers a lot though – at work, at the pub, at rugby. I even see your grandparents around – at the café, at the art gallery, on the street. Your grandparents hug me when they see me. They always have, though. It's a side-effect of knowing me my whole life.
I talked to my mom about us. I cried. It was pretty embarrassing. She pointed out that you were having a rough time this year, the last few years.
"Maybe she feels like her new friends understand better, sweetheart," she said, "maybe she feels like you have a perfect life, and she's struggling." I know you're not doing well in some ways. College has been hard for you. Stuff with your mom has been hard for a while. Compared to you, I've had some easy years. School comes naturally to me. My family are closer than yours. So I can't empathise with what you're going through.
I tried to be supportive, though. I spoke to a therapist at school, asking how she recommended I help you. I researched, I talked to another friend that has panic attacks. I told you we could talk about anything. It was awkward, but I promised that I would be there if you needed me. You tried, too. You told me about how you felt about your mom. You didn't mention the other stuff that small town gossip had whispered to me – the eating, the grades, the panic attacks. You didn't know I knew about that. I let it slide. I didn't want to push you. We moved on, until you drifted away.
So, that's where we're left. You're in the city, at your college, with K.
At least you have K. She'll look after you. We, formerly attached at the hip, haven't seen each other face to face since April. I've given up texting, calling, asking your dad when you're coming home. You might have outgrown me. Maybe you're too cool for me now. Maybe I've inadvertently done something, at some time, to offend you. But what seems most likely is that you're scared. The way you always are of people.
Please know that no matter how long you ignore me, I will keep my promise. I'll be there if you need me. I won't be mad if it takes years. Don't be scared of asking. We've been friends for far too long for me to do anything except welcome you home with open arms. I miss you.
I love you.