On old friends lost

Dear Sam.

I wonder what might have been had she not left me when we were at our sweetest.

Sam was a whirlwind, a hurricane. From the moment she flew into my house demanding salt for tequila shots, I was hooked. I was also canny enough to offer salt in exchange for tequila, and after that agave filled haze what felt like a lifelong friendship was assured.

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Sam was in a very many ways, my braver, melodic, outrageous, better half, one I hadn't realised was missing. For one year we were confidantes, fort builders, boy chasers and dream catchers. She'll be forever trapped in my memory at 22, beautiful, rugged, riding a motorcycle with blonde streaks and a vicious smile.

I'm no longer 22, I'm old. The years lumber on, and at night I go to bed earlier, sober-er and I'm gradually forgetting how to be wild and dance. I have an office job and a high waisted skirt. I worry about interest rates.

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But I can't forget Sam.

The lack of Sam is big part of my identity, and just like I've trapped her at 22, she's transfixed a part of me. Although the trappings of fortune change, and my eyes are increasingly crinkly when I smile, there's a 22 year old part of me peeping out looking for Sam.

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And I wonder, if Sam hadn't died/passedaway/disappeared/leftmealone what might have been.

Would we have stayed best friends, toured a developing country together for backpacker boys, cheap drinks and in search of meaning, till we settled down in our respective respectability, meeting in the park to lunch on ham and cheese sandwiches once a week?

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Would we have drifted apart, lost contact after university, commenting on a status or photo every now and then but left with nothing to talk about except for the old times?

Would our few awkward kisses after a wine or three have multiplied, and led to romance, one day realising that our soul mate was our best friend, right in front of us the whole time, till we settled in together, collecting pumpkin soup recipes in domestic bliss?

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I can only wonder. I also wonder the bad things, the tortured things, like were we as sweet and close as I remember if she'd go? If I was better/kinder/listened more, would it have convinced her to stay?

I'll never have an answer. I have no choice but to continue on, with a part of my heart frozen at 22. As time passes, my heart beginning to wonder if I still love the thing itself, or only hold onto the memory of past love, because as time passes my memory of Sam as a person fades, and Sam is becoming a dark shadow on my soul, filled with youthful angst and perilous grief.

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I worry that if it stops hurting, if I move on and grow up, it'll be my turn to leave, so I'm trapped, at 22.

And sometimes, that makes Taylor Swift get stuck in my head, and I feel like somewhere Sam's done it on purpose, and is laughing.

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