Friendships have expiration dates.
Some friendships have a very distinct expiration date.
My good friend wanted me to take her out clubbing. Preferably an LGBTQ club because she (bisexual) wanted to meet someone, preferably a woman, but a regular old dance club would have been good.
I said I didn’t know of any LGBTQ clubs in the area but I was game to go and I would look into it. I didn’t. I prioritized hanging out with my younger, cooler friends. This friend was 20+ years older than me and prone cancelling plans last minute. Plans worked well when I came over to hang out at her house, but we had never tried for something more ambitious like a night of clubbing. Still, I figured we’d go at some point.
She died. We never went clubbing.
Some expire more slowly.
My college friends and I talked about meeting up post-graduation. Going to visit, planning a long weekend, clubbing, etc. (sensing a theme?) Only, I wound up spending the better part of my 20s and 30s after college keeping Shabbat. That eats up a lot of weekends.
Not that keeping Shabbat was all bad. I had lots of fun Shabbat experiences with my new observant Jewish friends. You can travel and experience Shabbat in different places, and I did. But Shabbat definitely makes travel more complicated. Somehow, I kept thinking there would be a long weekend, maybe a Thursday night or a Saturday night. But who wants to go out in the cold winter time when Shabbat ends early and Saturday night plans are possible? And in the summer, when Shabbat ends after 9 PM, it gets to be too late to do anything.
My friends grew older. Grew out of touch. Had kids. Grew out of a lifestyle that would have allowed for partying with friends. In a way, I had too.
We’re still friends on Facebook. Technically, nothing stops us from meeting up. It’s just pointless now.
Some I throw out before the expiration date.
Like milk or produce that is about to spoil. I do this with most friends who become parents. I say mazal tov and then I stop talking to them. They largely don’t notice because they stop talking to me too. But it makes me feel better to be the one who ends it rather than being the forgotten childless friend that the parent friends with real responsibilities forgot about.
Some I wish would expire faster.
With the exception of maybe 2 people, I largely didn’t keep in touch with my local friends during the pandemic. I’ll take responsibility for this, but friendship is a two-way street and they could have reached out too.
Honestly, it was hard to be friends during the pandemic anyway. If I was talking to a friend who has better pandemic circumstances than me, or found silver linings rather than olives, I felt jealous and bitter. If I was talking to a friend who was in a worse situation, I felt guilty. We ran out of conversation topics. There is only so much to say about coronavirus and politics. The depression that I had managed to largely (though not entirely) keep in check pre-pandemic by making enough plans to distract myself raged wildly. I ran out of capacity to reach out to people because I could barely hold a normal conversation. So I stalked my friends on Facebook and their Facebook posts made me realize I no longer really liked many of them.
(In fairness, I liked everyone far less during the pandemic, myself included. Since I started this blog during the pandemic and never met any of you lovely readers before, you’re not part of the “people I like a lot less now”)
Vaccination and reopening rates in my area are such that people are starting to make plans. As if our friendships were merely on pause or cryogenically preserved and ready to be thawed in the spring weather. But to me they feel already rotted.