Lifestyle

How A 45-Year Friendship Slipped Away

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The text wasn’t long, but it was clear. I hadn’t responded to calls or outreaches for months. I clearly wasn’t traveling, so I was around. This was a choice. She got it. She said goodbye, and said maybe I’ll see you on the other side.

Who knows. I sure don’t.

My buddy JC said once that friends don’t ghost friends. While I would agree in most cases, this past couple of years, one woman ghosted me, and I ended that relationship. This one was different.

This person has been around since 1976. We were in the military together, two Florida-born girls who had joined, done enlisted time, and ended up in Officer’s Basic in one of the last all-female classes out of Fort McClellan, Alabama.

We ended up neighbors at the bachelor officers’ quarters at Fort Belvoir. This was an amazing, brilliant, funny, intense woman who would go on to vastly outshine my career in every way. She rose to dizzying heights. As I moved West, I would see her when I returned to the East Coast for business.

No matter how powerful she was, I knew the color of her teddy bears.

Over time, our contact drifted a bit, but we always had that deep, long conversation every so often which reconnected us. I have no idea when she took the sharp dog-leg to the Right, nor am I privy to what happened when it became clear, at least to me, that said dog leg was so far to the Right that we could no longer have the kind of conversation we used to have.

She had supported John Kasich for President. Then, she supported Trump. The first time around, I understood, although she and I had both been assaulted. She had terrible things to say about Hillary. I didn’t like her either but for my Presidential dollar, I could read the writing on the wall. Anybody but Trump, and I was right about that pus-faced piece of shite on every single count and then some.

I lost one long-term friend over that first election.

Last summer, we spoke again. It had been nearly four years. One of the first things she mentioned was having been at the Mt. Rushmore rally.

My heart sank. Oh shit, I thought. Here we go.

Then, later she made a comment about Covid which made it very clear that she felt that it was a hoax, or that the numbers were overstated. She asked me if I really believed what I was hearing.

I had just hung up from speaking to a nurse friend whose caseload was decimated daily by Covid. Whose family had all gotten it. She was terrified, sixty and asthmatic. She had every goddamned reason to be scared.

I sucked in my breath. I. Just. Can’t. I just can’t. I couldn’t believe that she had even asked me such a question.

When we ended the talk, she said she’d like to speak more often. I wasn’t sure what on earth to say. I was listening to yet another huge piece of my life calve away like an iceberg, and go floating out to sea, to melt into the waters of my memories.

I knew then that we would not speak again. Another forty-year plus friendship ended over fucking politics.

I have a friend I’d met on Match.com. A retired Army guy, Ranger, thirty years, a seriously dedicated Democrat. Not your usual combination but there you are. We befriended each other, and when it became clear he’d be moving back East, we decided to keep talking.

We discuss politics a lot. As dating each other was now off the table, we could have lively, rollicking conversations about his dating life. He shared with me that the moment he found out that someone had supported Trump, he was done. It wasn’t negotiable.

He and I had both allowed for friends, long term beloved friends, to choose Trump the first time. But to vote for him again? After what he had clearly shown himself to be, after all the reveals and the claims of steals and all the rest? You would choose THAT again?

The great truth of that sank in.

Me, too. Over the last several years I’ve had to release several beloved friends. Two of them I just let go. JC might criticize me for ghosting, but both were very strong personalities. I didn’t wish for us to end on a sour or angry note. While you may think me a coward, and I’d be inclined to agree, my selfish preference was to remember them both as I had loved them best. For the brilliant, funny, outlandish, intelligent, incredible women they were. Still are, likely, but not as friends in my inner circle.

I am quite sure that they believe just as strongly that I have gone off the deep end, that I would choose to stay in the middle, or lean left, and lean into my diversity history. It’s where I belong for it’s who I am.

When the values no longer align, it is difficult to remain close. In fact, in some very important ways, where this schism in America has been so damaging in so very many ways, Trumpism tore apart friends and family the same way that the Civil War did. Interestingly, for some of the very same reasons. I cannot support anyone or anything that continues to enslave a people. That we are still fighting this battle is a massive stain on our society. I know where I stand. I have lost friends over it.

Some things are not negotiable.

I would never ask nor require of my friends that they change who they are so that I am more at ease. I love them for the years we were friends. I love them for their lessons. I love them for all the time we had.

And I wish them godspeed on their journeys.

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