"I'm going to blow your mind," Sibling warned me over sushi this afternoon.
"Go for it," I replied, reaching for another piece of crab encased in rice with tempura crumbles and a creamy sauce on top. Had she asked me to guess, I would have hypothesized she was pregnant.
I would have been wrong. She announced she was leaving - both our group and the area - and I nodded and smiled at her before sipping my soda as I thought of what to say.
I had no such problems when I was in 3rd grade and my best friend told me her parents had bought another house. Her blue eyes brimmed with tears and I cycled rapidly through the stages of grief - my heart breaking at the thought of losing bike rides and Monopoly games and swimming in each other's pools.
"It's not fair," I protested, my brown eyes beginning to water as rapidly as hers were. "We're going to need a ride to see each other!"
"I know," she cried. "I told my mom I didn't want to move but my dad really wants this house." And so we cried - quite dramatically, of course - until our mothers came down the hall to where we perched on my bed, clinging to each other.
"When?" I finally asked as we caught our breath and wiped our eyes.
I repeated this question to Sibling as we sat across from each other and she answered me. So I nodded again and thought of my next question.
"You could visit me," she offered and I nodded with little enthusiasm. I could visit Chicago, San Antonio, Nashville. Paris, Milan, Zurich. I know and love people in all places, but I like staying home. "Oh," Sibling sighed. "You don't like New York City."
"I don't dislike it," I replied honestly. "I can see you being very happy there - you always wanted to get back to a real city. But I like it here. I'm staying here. So when it comes to long lunches or easy dinners, I'm fantastic. But long, focused visits aren't really my thing."
She nodded, telling me about her friends from college that were within an hour of NYC. I nodded and asked more questions and felt... not a whole lot. I tried to examine it and the best I could say was that I understood. Neither happy nor heartbroken.
It just made sense, I finally realized. People come and then they go. And perhaps I'm losing that naive capability to love someone new with everything. I read an email from Pete - circa 2006 - the other day. And found myself sick after sobbing - not for him, necessarily, but because I remembered - so clearly - what it felt like to feel that. The intensity of hope. The subsequent misery of disappointment.
I recall driving away from Friend - car full of belongings she'd helped me pack - and feeling crushed under the weight of grief. And I wonder if my heart now hides - only half-interested in life and those in it - so that all I feel is understanding when a dear friend announces her departure.