The first one wasn’t so great. I put it on my plate, deciding that that one would be for me. And that the next one would be better. That one would be yours.
When I blinked, I was suddenly back at the apartment. I was 21, making pancakes for you while you quietly sobbed on the couch because he broke up with you again. I wasn’t making you pancakes because I knew that you wanted them, but because I knew that your mom wanted to see that you had food sitting in front of you before she left from spending time with you during your difficult night. She quietly hugged you, said her farewell, and closed the door behind her. You wiped your eyes and went upstairs, leaving your breakfast behind.
You never thanked me, but that’s okay. Because you didn’t have to. This is what friends do for eachother. Besides– you made up for it later when you made me mac and cheese as I sat in front of my research paper, not having an appetite due to fighting anxiety. We
take took care of each other.
I’m 23 years old. I’m making pancakes in my kitchen, and all at once, the memories flood back into my mind.
Now we’re sitting on our living room floor, when we’re 19. Choosing the community of the ground instead of the couches. We’re eating pancakes and belly-laughing while listening to music or making stupid jokes. We’re vicariously living through one another’s experiences by telling stories of our days. Or we’re scrolling through our phones and not talking, because sometimes silence is okay.
We’re eating pancakes, and we’re 22. This time in the company of friends, and late at night as we exhaustedly pour over our homework at the end of the semester. Or we’re in an entirely different city after a grand adventure had unfolded before us, and we’re eating pancakes together before packing to leave it all behind. The company gives us the reassurance that we’ll always have people around us who love us, no matter what our futures hold.
Now we’re sitting in your car. We’re 20 years old. It feels like I begged you to give me a moment this time, because I was depressed and didn’t want to open up to anyone else. I asked you if we could talk after work, with tears streaming down my face. And you said no because you didn’t have time to when you were getting off work, even though we both know that you were going home. I felt like I was falling apart, but I took your no and waited until a week later. We’re eating pancakes in your car after work, and I try to tell you what’s happening in the 20 minutes that you give me. I wonder if you’re genuinely occupied with other things, or if I’m becoming a burden to you.
I’m 23. I’m making pancakes, and I’m thinking of the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m thinking of both the thick and the thin that we’ve endured together as best friends. I remember the grand adventures that we had, and my heart is flooded with hope and the desire for the broken places to be mended so that the story never ends. Yet, I remember the things that made me question whether or not being so close to you was good for me, and my heart breaks in the deepest of places. Who really wants to choose between having a close friend and looking out for your well-being?
The terrifying fact is that this isn’t the first friendship or relationship that has seen this side of me. The side that clings. The side that blurrs its lines between self and others. The legitimate fear is that this will not be the last time; that this cycle is so deeply rooted in me and will continue if I don’t open my eyes to the truths that I keep running away from.
Why are we so willing to choose self-destruction for the sake of what we think is love?
I get so frustrated and angry at myself, because I realize that I’ve cornered myself again. And that this is partially my fault. Because I would sacrifice everything that I have to be close with you again. Even if it meant compromising my own wellbeing for it, and that isn’t okay.
Obviously there isn’t a simple answer here. Perhaps I need to re-learn what love really is. Maybe I need to go on a grand adventure of solitude and find love within myself, so that I don’t desperately cling to the love that others give me as if it were slowly dissipating. As if Christ died for us and realized that He didn’t have enough love to go around.
Maybe when I find true love in solitude- in myself and in God, then I won’t feel compelled to seek it from others to the point of self-denial. I think that this form of love could enable us to love others in greater capacity- in a way that breaks the cycle that so many of us find ourselves tangled up in.
This time I blink, and I’m back in my kitchen after getting sucked into a vortex of memories. I’m 23, and I’m making pancakes. The new house is quiet. And the first pancake didn’t turn out so great, but the second one did. So I put both on the only plate on the counter.
Here’s to journeys of healthy solitude, and may we find our balance and most authentic selves in them.