We met through work and it was like recognizing a part of you that you hadn’t realized was missing. I often hear the term “we just clicked”, and as cliché as it sounds, that was exactly what happened. Something fell into place. Corrected. Adjusted, realigned, accommodated.
It was a Monday morning. As Monday mornings go (well, any morning for me), it was horrible. I was barely awake, grouchy and grumpy as all get out. Just trying to make it to 10:15 when I could take a break and get another coffee or close my eyes for a few. The phone rang, prompting me out of me reverie to answer it before the ring gave me a headache.
“Hello, you have reached the Telecommunications Office. How may I assist?”
A deep baritone voice informed me of a name (which I didn’t hear) and inquired if I had logged a report on a malfunctioning telex unit. I responded that I had and for the next few minutes was engaged in a conversation that moved from making arrangements to fix a machine to inquiries on how I was adjusting to my post as I was recently engaged by the company.
I left the conversation feeling like “Well, okay then!” and with a big grin. No longer was I lacking in energy and I certainly looked forward to speaking to whomever it was again.
It was later that same day.
Michael came to fix the machine and was armed with that deep baritone and a bag of tools in his virtual arsenal that won me over immediately. He was charming, pleasant and engaging. He looked at me when I spoke as though every single word mattered and he needed to hear what I was saying. We exchanged numbers and agreed to see a movie together later that week.
That marked the genesis of a friendship that lasted for over ten years. Initially, there was an attempt to make it a romantic involvement. However, we realized quickly that there wasn’t anything between us to justify taking the relationship in that direction.
Our families and mutual friends called us “Peas in a pod” since we started to behave and speak similarly to each other. Everyone wondered why our relationship wasn’t a romantic one but we knew (through one extremely awkward attempt at a kiss), that going there was a no-no. I told him about my current crush and he complained about his most recent conquest. I slept in his bed and we chatted till morning, giggling like foolish teenagers. He shared his current girlfriend’s toiletries with me and I loaned him my boyfriend’s shirt when he was drunk and slept on my couch one night. We were happily the third wheel on a date when the other was suddenly single on Valentine’s Day.
We were as close as two persons who were born to different parents could be. Every free moment was spent chatting away on the phone or going off on adventures together.
And then life happened.
We always spoke of going away for school and one day, Michael called excitedly to inform me that he was accepted into Georgia Tech. I was happy and was celebrating loudly with him until it hit me: nothing would ever be the same again. I would miss him terribly.
And that was the truth. I hadn’t realized how much a part of my life he had become.
The time to leave came before I was prepared for it. It seemed as though one minute I was congratulating him on his acceptance and the next he was leaving. Soon, he was rushing around putting things in place for his move. He was bubbling over with excitement and I too was caught up in the celebratory moment. Within a month, we said our goodbyes with promises that we’d keep in touch and that I would come visit when I was in the US. We bravely hugged and I walked with him all the way to immigration at the airport and shared our last hug.
It was our last hug. We were sincere and tried to maintain what we had but it had changed. Time and distance got in the way; our various commitments ensured that we had to fight to keep our connection alive. Memories and a deep love for each other dragged it out but only made it more difficult.
We continued keeping up with birthdays and various anniversaries. Technology enabled us to ‘see’ each other but we never managed to be in the same physical space at the same time. We’d talk about visiting each other but somehow never got around to it. Occasionally we’d send a “How are you doing?” email but then even that became infrequent until it stopped altogether.
I think about him from time to time and wonder how he’s doing. It has now been so long that it feels weird to just call and say hello.
I’ve wanted to. But I think our time is long past.