Chat box open, curser blinking and ready. I run through various conversation openers and conversations in my head.
"How've you been?"
"Long time no talk"
"Miss me yet?"
"How was your day?"
Then, maybe the conversation would lead to,
"I'm glad I moved away."
"No plans of coming back."
"I get lonely sometimes, but overall, I'm diggin' new experiences, new friends, new food, new languages, new hobbies..."
Perhaps amidst my attempt to sum up my new life into one or two canned sentences, along with insistance on my part that I've finally found what I've been looking for!, they would divulge a detail or two about changes in their lives. Perhaps we would bring up inside jokes and lol over fond memories. Perhaps we'd apologize for letting so much time pass without a word between us and we'd promise to do better at keeping in touch and in the upkeep of our friendship.
Or maybe none of these things would happen. Maybe the conversation would be short and awkward. Maybe our content would run dry and they or I would fake an excuse to end the chat. Maybe the conversation won't even make it that far: maybe I'll finally conjure up the courage to hit 'enter' after 'Hi, howya doin'?' only to receive no response after minutes and then days of tortured virtual, silent waiting.
At this point in my make-believe conversation or fearful unanswered greeting, I decide it's pointless to rebuild a burnt bridge. I close the empty chat box.
My move from my Bay Area home was executed in the proverbial ripping-of-bandaid fashion. I kept sappy, nostalgic goodbyes to a minimum if I said anything at all. Deuces, Cali, and good riddance.
Since my parting, I've kept in touch with exactly four friends from the Bay. Well, six friends, if you count one late night phone call from an intoxicated friend who has no memory of our surprisingly heartfelt conversation and one two-hour catch-up conversation with a good friend and lovesick former roommate.
If dreamt-up conversations with old friends count as staying in touch, though, my total count about doubles in number. Just last weekend, I dreamt of a friend whom I met exactly two years ago and whom I've looked to as a mentor since. I told him that I was sorry for disappointing him; I told him that I appreciated him vouching for me and believing in me. I apologized for letting him down. I dreamt of the sense closure that had been keeping me up at night.
The next morning, I considered contacting him in waking life. I imagined a conversation akin to both my ritual, failure-before-launch Gchat conversations and my dreamt-up heart-to-heart.
In the end, I decided to let it go. To let him go. To let my past go. I'm a dreamer, not a dweller. I live in the future, get impatient with the present, and forget the past-- this has always been my nature. The healing effects of time and distance has already begun; all I need now is a little more time and a little more distance.
Old friends will fade into my past. They may no longer play a role in my life, but their kindness and guidance are imprinted in my ever-developing character. I thank them for that (in my imaginary conversations, of course).
And speaking of characters--here's one of my favorites.