By Imani, age 16, South Africa
"It's amazing when two strangers become the best of friends, but it's sad when the best of friends become two strangers."
It's amazing how one can walk past a person without looking back. Sometimes it hurts, as your mind is flooded with memories of how every morning you used to send each other a good morning text message, then greet each other with a special handshake in the hallway, as soon as you arrived at school.
But sometimes it does not. You have other, more important matters to deal with. If they really wanted to speak to you, they would, right? In high school, also known as "life as we know it," we are all so caught up in our own lives, even in the two-minute break from class in between periods as we hastily walk through the corridors to our next class. So many thoughts are buzzing in our head.
How am I going to manage all my classes? Why isn't she talking to me? How am I going to explain to the teacher why my homework is not done? My head hurts.
Walking past your best friend without a simple hello was a rare occurrence. It was done when you two were arguing, and swore to never speak again, only for that promise to be broken within a matter of hours. But sadly it's been like this for a little more than a few hours.
Let's go back to the good old days. The good old days were characterized by 3 AM phone calls from opposite sides of the world. Lengthy emails describing your newfound summer love. But it's always talking. You never run out of anything to say. Never one-word text messages. No matter how far apart or how busy you get you are always talking, and the bond between you two grows and grows.
And when you are finally reunited ... something has changed. You can't quite put your finger on it, but something has changed. They don't greet you with same enthusiasm they once did. They even forget your birthday and cover it up. It's easy to hide forgetting someone's birthday, by acting all " whoopee!"
But you can tell they forgot when they act all surprised when you receive a ton of hugs as you enter the school building, then hug you and apologize for not sending you a text message. Then they further dig a hole for themselves by stating why they did not have the decency to call. The list of excuses grows, one of them being "I had a rough weekend. Trust me, you don't want to know."
Then you think back to the times when you would invest time and send them a heartfelt birthday message. And when they would in turn arrive at school with a box of chocolates, teddy bears, and so on.
Now all you get is a standard automated Facebook message: "[insert name here] wishes you a happy birthday."
Then it further develops when you find out your friend does not know even the minor details that people you've just met know about you. That you play the guitar, not the clarinet. That you are a vegetarian. Why you insist on keeping your hair natural. What your hopes and dreams are. It upsets you how this person could forget something that means so much to you. They might as well have forgotten your name.
Maybe I am less successful? Maybe it's something I said that could make them slowly write me out of their life?
The only time you speak is never out of choice: student council issues, like the new benches, or group projects. Nothing personal and never out of choice. Every once in a while you wave, but wonder, if they really wanted to speak to you they would, wouldn't they? Or is their ego so big that they believe people should be chasing after them, not the other way around.
You notice how you have grown apart, and you promise to never grow apart and become 'strangers.' That promise is broken within a matter of days. The same drill happens. The brief greetings in the hallway turn into a half-acknowledging wave. The small chit chat is interrupted by something way more interesting. The crowd behind is beckoning for you to come over. With your conflicting cliques, it seems impossible to blend. You used to be able to hang out with everyone.
Suddenly you don't feel the same about each other anymore. There is no need to talk, unless there is no one left to talk to. Not because you don't want to talk, or that you don't have time. It is not that there is nothing to talk about. You could talk about the weather, or what happened on your favorite soapie the previous night.
You could joke about your science teacher's eccentric fashion style. Anything, because you had always managed to joke about the simplest of things. You never ran out of things to say, and the transcript of your conversations could go on for miles and miles. You'd just rather be with someone else ... somewhere else.
Then it dawns on you that they only stay for a short while to chat. That they don't remember half the things you said in a conversation. That they're happier with their new group of friends. It seems almost impossible to catch up.
And then you realize that you don't need to chase after anyone when you've got great people right here with you. It is better to be surrounded by people you don't have doubts or uncertainties about. Those with whom you never run out of things to say. Those with whom you feel comfortable spending the whole day. Those who have similar interests.
Those who still talk to you around their other friends. Those who always greet you in the hallways, every single day. The same thing you had with that someone else is gone. And it's fine, because people may come in and out of your life, as they say. But all that counts is those people who remain.
Maybe it will happen again. Maybe the friends you make now will one day be nothing but strangers. Maybe you will find yourself walking past them without a simple hello.
But it still bothers you as you walk past each other every single day. You feel a little bit guilty for not making an effort, but on the other hand, if they really wanted to speak to you, they would, right? Why should you be the one to say "hello" first.
This pride accomplishes nothing, as you both think that way. I guess you will have to settle for being strangers.