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NOVEMBER 17, 2021

To the future fisherman in Maine:

Seriously, Maine? Did you really have to choose to go to college on the other side of the country? I love our Friday night FaceTimes, but I very much miss experiencing your awkward gangliness and terrible jokes in person.

That being said, as I take the time to retrace the winding route of our friendship, I find that the distance between us actually doesn’t bother me that much. Not in a cheesy, we’ll-always-be-BFFs-no-matter-the-distance! kind of way. I mean that our distance, both physical and metaphorical, has genuinely never mattered.

If memory serves me correctly, we met in seventh-grade English. After struggling through three harrowing semesters of George Orwell and Jack London together, I considered you to be a good friend.

Admittedly, not quite good enough to keep in contact with when we had no classes together the next year.

Then ninth grade rolled around, and by some strange trick of fate, we ended up in English together again. It was pleasantly startling how easily we fell back into our friendship, clicking together as naturally as two magnets. This time, we chose to sit together.

But through tenth and eleventh grade, we were back to being near-strangers.

My point is that distance has always been a natural part of our correspondence, the ebb and flow of it as organic as that of ocean tides. In the past six years, we’ve gone from exhausted classmates to friends to near-strangers to tune traders to theme park partners to near-strangers again to being the first person at school each of us came out as bisexual to.

I know you remember what you said to me the night we came out to each other, once we’d managed to stop imitating that one Spiderman meme.

“Wow.” Your grin had shone brighter than the moon watching over us. “The stars really do align.”

Which has to be the dorkiest, cheesiest, most cliché thing anyone has ever said.

You know I love that sort of cheesy dreaminess, though. I’m religious and superstitious because I want so badly to believe that some sort of magic exists in our world. But I don’t trust fate blindly and entirely, especially when it comes to relationships of any sort. Perhaps fate does inevitably lead you to the best people in your life, but once that catalyst has done its part, you have to put in your own effort to maintain those connections.

Honestly, I tend to put too much effort in sometimes. I hold on so tightly and desperately to people that I tend to suffocate them. My overromanticized notions of life have so often tinted my views of my relationships, rose-colored veils obscuring the truth of what they really were. Even after fate has abandoned my connection with a person, snatching back whatever made us click in the first place, I can’t help but continue my efforts. As long as I keep trying, I tell myself, everything will turn out as perfectly as a fairytale ending.

But I’ve never had to try so hard with you. I’ve never been bothered by how different our interests are or by the amount of time it takes you to answer a text. Even when the distance between us begins to open up again, I need no reassurances about our friendship.

Because sooner or later, I know that the rollercoaster-loving, giraffe-legged ramen-snob pianist and the faint-hearted, orange-juice-obsessed history-nerd writer will eventually find their way back to each other. Our stars will surely realign.

And I find that even the time during which they aren’t aligned is something to be appreciated. No, it’s not because I don’t enjoy your company, so you can drop the kicked puppy act now.

Your true language is music, so I’ll try to explain it through that. You obviously know what a musical rest is — an interval of silence within a piece. They might not be as fancy as a captivating ostinato or a passionate cadenza, but they are no less important. These precious moments of silence transform pieces in a way no notes ever could, adding suspense and relief and hundreds of other forms of depth.

Our rests, our long periods of silence, only serve to further enhance the beauty of the crescendos that occur when we ultimately align again.

I’ve never felt so certain about my connection with another person before. At some point or another, most of the other relationships in my life have been of frightening concern, slipping out of my fingers as frictionlessly as water. Yet I find that it doesn’t scare me at all when you slip away. I have no doubts that you’ll eventually come back. Rather than a concern, you have always been a comfort.

As of now, though, I’m thankful for the pictures of the vibrant Maine autumn you so dutifully send to me and for our laughter-filled Friday night catch-ups. I just know that even if our Friday night appointments start to be forgotten, that even if the three thousand miles between us start to make themselves known, that it’s not the end. Thank you for being an endless friend, Brian Liu. As always, I miss and love you.

Geraldine Ang writes the Wednesday column on human connection. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter

NOVEMBER 17, 2021

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