The Key to Friendship


The Key to Friendship

The entire situation spun out of control due to a single, small, shiny key. The silver-shaped metal that opens wards into their world created havoc within my inner emotional world. Foolishly, when I was handed the responsibility, I was terrified by what ‘all access’ really means and whether there are obligations that come from possessing such a privilege.

The key remained safely in the consul of my car for a month and was never touched. The assumption that I would come over anytime I pleased became the new narrative. Which, I, of course, did not catch the memo on. The confusion slowly crept into my head like little vermin of the night. Pattering around spreading insecurity and fear. I longed for the days of discussing our desire to see one another.

As the distance grew between being invited vs. wielding the proposed right to ‘barge on in’ our text dialog became ever increasingly sparse and dry. It seemed that they were losing the desire to care about me. We carried on down a gravel road like an old beat-up truck, unable to shift into proper gear. There were many failed attempts to meet up and even more sleepless nights, where I spun my wheels, and wondered why our communication had broken down.

One late summer evening, as I was heading home, I placed the key on top of their kitchen table and walked to the front door. As soon as I wrapped my fingers around the handle, I promptly turned around to stare sheepishly at the idle key and debate if the return would be misinterpreted. I slipped it back into my pocket and stood there to further contemplate.

I desperately needed our communication back and I didn’t know how to approach the issue, so I pulled out the all-confusing ‘shiny ticket in’ and slapped the curse back down on the glass. This time I was sure of my  decision to leave that worthless key suspended there. I walked out firm in my stance that waltzing into their life without proper permission was barbaric. At the least, I figured a much-needed conversation might be prompted and at best, we could naturally start making plans again.

The conversation that came about from ridding myself of that hex was heartbreaking. My action had been taken as a slap in the face and by that one single misstep we went from being monogamous to, you guessed it, just friends. Us became a singular lonely me and the communication grew cryptic. I had, unfortunately, returned more than my entrance into their home. Nothing I said or did was removing their emotional walls that had instantaneously come up thicker than a safe room.

I had to accept the position that I demoted myself into in their life. I no longer suited up as a star player, barely made the roster, and often rode the bench waiting in anticipation to be remembered. Finally, after many months, things started to become a bit more regular. Just as we were able to see one another, without palatable tension or putrid discussions of one another’s dating life, my friend decided to sell their home.

There I am, in their home as any good friend would be, helping them pack. While removing the heavy linen window curtains one by one and placing them into a box I become overtaken by an immense sadness.

Where they were accepting of the move and had made the decision to do so, I found myself struggling to process the change. Despite the overflow of feelings that were rushing through me like a dam had burst in my heart, I attempted my best to keep a smile plastered across my face. “Dry eyes. Don’t crack,” I reminded myself as I continued to pack.

The days of goofy couch talks and sitting by the warm fire as we spoke of our deepest memories were now just a memory too. Will we ever sit on another porch and silently listen to the rain together? Have we outgrown turning the music on full blast to dance like lunatics? Will these pieces of the past be more easily forgotten with an entirely new environment that holds none of our shared memories? The questions played within my head and composed together to form a melancholy melody that was difficult to silence.

“What does this mean for us,” I anxiously questioned as I pressed on to remove the dressings of their home. Pictures were stripped from the walls, sheets yanked from the beds and perhaps the hardest hit, was the missing chairs that we like clockwork once naturally gravitated to. As I watched them nonchalantly gathering their possessions, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe they just weren’t understanding the gravity of the change.

The fear that they were looking to clean their slate of everything, including me, sat in my stomach like bad Asian takeout. But, I am their friend and as a good friend, it would be unbecoming to make this move be about me or expect them to comfort my emotions when they are being strong. So, I continued to move forward following their lead until it became late and I needed to go.

As I stood in the front doorway saying my goodbyes for the evening, I explained that I would be back to help. That was when they reached out to my hand and placed the key into my palm. I was speechless and immediately thought, “Here it is, another shiny chance to make things right and possibly use this dreaded key for the first time”.

Regrettably, I did not use the key. It became utterly unnecessary because the doors were all wide open to ease with the clear out. I still possess the key, but now the only worth is sheer symbolism for my trepidation to impede or in other words; my horrible acquiescence, that resulted in me never once opening that door. The person who brings a smile to my face by occupying my thoughts now resides in a place I have yet to be invited to. That person is my friend.