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Creative Nonfiction Friendship

Dissonance: a lack of harmony or agreement between things







It used to be easy, once upon a time.


To strike a conversation with a neighbour while waiting for the school bus. To be squished together in the backseat of the bus, talking about anything and everything at all. To walk into school, talk to dozens of people, teachers and students and staff alike. To wish a good afternoon to the bus driver and conductor. To give high-fives to children younger than us while walking to the buses in dispersal. To attend music classes, and learn and laugh. To go to the grocery, smile at the cashier, browse through items and throw in a snack in the trolley. To live and love and interact. To be happy.


And on every piece of the world, we – the people – are the same. Close friendships teetering on the edge of crossing the limit of being allowed to care; finding difficulty in sending one message, in keeping in contact; the unspoken boundaries in place of previous unbridled love and affection which used to flow and merge from both sides; every individual united by the absolute lack of it.


Messaging chats are universally filled by the irregular greeting of morning or night, a good luck for a test online, and excuses to stop conversation. They contain stilted conversations, words that dance around a barrier that no one speaks of, with uncertain sorry to disturb yous, ending on the note of painful goodbyes and promises to talk to you later, promises which aren’t fulfilled.


Weeks are spent without really spending them.


The closest of friends take time to gain courage, to overcome the ever-present fear, enough to click on a button and converse with someone that they hold so dear, when they know neither would judge the other anyway. We talk to a person for five minutes, exhausting our social battery, when there once was a time where we could rant and laugh and share stories around the table for hours if we had the time.


Parents don’t know how to talk to their children, torn between wanting to communicate and hold bitter but healthy conversations, and wanting to keep an illusion of happiness in the home.


Distance learning takes up hours of time without giving us any real knowledge. Online tests are given as a façade, something in place of nothing, to prove to us that we’re learning, that this has a use. Teachers are burdened with stress, the ones who care about their students unable to start or keep a connection with them, struggling to keep up with portions and meetings and their own lives. Boards of educations preach about the importance of our mental health and keeping friendship alive, and tell us to focus on our studies, not our friends, and ask us why we have a need to be stressed, all in the same breath.


Interaction is so excruciatingly difficult.


But one day, we will step outside of our doors, masks left in drawers and on tables, and we will feel, like we’ve never felt before.


Now, we sit in front of our computers, our phones and tablets, and we are lost in thought, lost in fear. We sit, lost in the anxious anticipation of the future.


At different times, different weeks and months for all of us, the day will come, but it will come, and we will wait. We will stay, and live to find out.


Sometimes, we feel disappointed, we don’t know what we feel, but we know that the essence of us has lessened. Our soul exists in the smallest portion that it can, in a form only required to eat and sleep and mindlessly absorb the content of textbooks. The more we sit in a room, eyes stuck on a screen, the more we unconsciously know that when this ends, we will not be able to cope with the aftermath. An aftermath of blinding light and breathing fresh air, hugs and conversations, greenery and life.


We pretend that we’re living, but we know we’re not. This year of masks and gloves, protests and calls for freedom, experience and anxiety and grief, changed all of us piece by piece. And we will be glued back together, clear spaces where there used to be life, and life in previous vacuum.


Senses will overcome us, because we have forgotten. We have forgotten how to live, and to speak and to feel and to live amongst the ones we love. One day, we will learn again, how to love without fear, speak without worry, breathe without crying, but the time has not yet arrived. The process will bring pain, and it will bring melancholy, but we will bear.


It used to be easy, once upon a time.


***


So, come on, make it easy for yourself to cope in the aftermath. Shoot off a hey, how’ve you been to someone you haven’t talked to in months, right now. If all else fails, find some conversation starter questions on a craft site or Pinterest. Use whatever methods you can to build up your relationship to what it was before, or make it even closer than it had ever been.


Email that teacher you might’ve been close to, years or months ago, if you think they’d be open to contact. Leave a message asking to call with a cousin or relative or childhood companion that you once had a close friendship with.


If you’re worried about disturbing them, or getting a negative response, strike up a conversation with someone who commented on your story on Reedsy, or messaged you on Instagram or Twitter, or hell, even start a conversation with me, the writer of this story, I promise you’ll find a friend somewhere.


Try to interact.


Find someone in tune with you.


Choose to trust them; earn their trust.


Break the dissonance.


There will be a day where you can breathe without worry or fear of the past. And the ones you have chosen will stay with you, and carry you through it.

March 12, 2021 17:35

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4 comments

Malini S.
13:34 Jan 09, 2022

Reply to this if you want to reach me :)

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Malini S.
03:15 Mar 13, 2021

AAHH thank you so much, it’s so heartwarming waking up to this💙💙💙

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