Be a Friend

Columns | Vienna Review | December 2010 / January 2011

"I hate this Facebook!" my friend said in a private message – although, of course, she was writing on Facebook. "Everything is so banal; all we do is rake over what’s happened in the past month. It’s just not enough."

"I know."

It wasn’t exactly a sensitive answer, almost insulting, in fact. But I simply had nothing else to say. At some point you have to ask yourself whether a friendship is worth fighting for. The answer is not simple and depends on the character of your friend as well as on the relationship. In my case, the person was worth it, but the relationship was not.

The beginnings of most friendships are the same: the basis is in spending time together, going out, whispering in the corner of the courtyard about the boys from the senior class. This is a high school friendship. Later, our friendships become more sincere. In a good friendship, conversation is a melody you never tire of listening to, because each day the music is reborn with few added notes that repaint its hue.

This one was a teenage friendship just emerging into adulthood when I left to finish my schooling in the United Sates. It was still based on spending innocuous time together, and after a nine months’ absence, I saw it gradually falling apart. I had known I was going to lose people, but with her, I believed, the situation would be different.

I tried. I talked. I cried. But she thought it was just a crisis, a phase, assuring me everything would be back to normal in a couple of months. But when I moved to Austria, it was gone forever.

I am 20 years old, and I have just learned what friendship is not. And so also what it has to be – an understanding, a pleasure in companionship that transcends time.  Or even talk. It’s often the silences that make the real conversations between friends. Not the saying but the never-needing-to-say is what counts.

The only way to have a friend, I realized, is to be one.

Bojana Simeunovic 

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