I’ve sworn off best friends.
That sounds dreadful, I know. Or at least, dreadfully capitalist, as though they were just commodities you can give up for lent, like booze or chocolate. In some ways, they are actually quite similar, I suppose; you get great enjoyment from them, they make life infinitely more bearable and help you get through the bad times, and too much of them can be very bad for you.
My last two best friends have both, whether by coincidence or design, ripped the hinges off my bathroom door. And the door off the door frame. I can\rquote t help but see this as some obvious, cliched sort of metaphor for the trails of havoc and destruction they left sprawled through my life. The first time this sort of thing happens, you simply accept it as a moderately upsetting event. So you fix the door and you get on with things. But when the second set of hinges go, you start to question it. Is it my fault? Is it that I am drawn to unstable people? Or could it be that I, as a person, naturally evoke fits of passionate rage and destruction in others? And most importantly, ought I go for the hat trick, or might that be the hinge that breaks the camel’s back?
I suspect it is the former – that I am drawn to unstable people – and since I am more than a little wobbly myself, this evidently cannot lead to Things That Are Good. It’s like pushing someone with no sense of balance onto a broken up, wind-tossed rope bridge across a bottomless gorge and then trying to help them out by chucking someone equally inept and unsteady onto said bridge in order to stabilise things. The tumble into the ravine is inevitable; the darkness down there impenetrable. It’s neither’s fault. They just can’t hold on.
Which is not to say I regret either of them coming into my life; both are still capable of inciting in me the same fierce sentiment and rash pride as they ever did. Both invoke the same heady cocktail of joy, adoration, stale anger and loss (if I were a perfumist, I’d name it Reminiscence). Both are the full stops that punctuate my life before I begin the next sentence anew. Indeed (in the pilfered words of indie/hip hop band Why?) theirs is a funeral I’d fly to from anywhere. But the toiling paths of bestfriendship are littered with pitfalls, insecurities and petty jealousies. You understand each other like no one else does. You know each other like the back of your hand – or any other part of yourself, for that matter. And like any other part of yourself is prey to episodes of self-destruction and self-loathing, so too are they, this time turned terribly outwards into the vessel you now see as an extension of yourself. You ask too much. You criticise too harshly. You see too clearly.
The results are vastly damaging to both parties, not to mention the peer groups surrounding them as a whole. So instead, from now on I am cultivating acquaintances, drinking partners, mates; anything but a best friend. My own nourishing little garden of fruits and vegetables to replace the contaminants of chocolate and wine. I go out with colleagues. I meet up with groups of people, instead, and flit in between without settling. I join internet forums. I converse. I coexist. I feel adrift – lest we forget, I am stuck on a metaphorical bridge above a ravine – but I feel stable, at the moment. I feel secure. This is a good thing.
I am determined this time. Alone, I can concentrate on just looking after myself. Alone, I can just about manage to keep my balance in this precarious world. Stable is how I will absolutely and resolutely stay, safe and protected and unharmed, all the way up until the next beautiful and inevitable disaster sets foot on my bridge and promises to share the abyss with me.
And I will take their hand.