How I Met Your Mother is so good at being “real life” sometimes. They’re wrapping up the series and in this particular episode, they show what happens to all of the minor and secondary characters, while The Kinks sing “Where Are They Now?” over an uninterrupted 3 minute shot of each character in their little setting with narration over it. Very Wes Anderson. And then the narrator finishes with this:
You will be shocked, kids, when you discover how easy it is in life to part ways with people forever.
And I went, “Oof.” Not out loud, but who knows, maybe it was out loud. I’m getting to that age where I’m less aware of what I say out loud. Which makes it sound like I’m getting to the age of 84. I am not.
But I am getting older, and I’m discovering some things about getting older that really suck. Things beyond having to use extra cash to buy boring shit like toothpaste. Things beyond worrying about paying bills, like some stupid country song you’d hear on the radio for 4 seconds because you changed the station too fast because it’s such a cliché. No, I mean things like that above quote from How I Met Your Mother.
It really is shockingly easy to part ways with people forever.
And I’m not sure how to feel about that.
Part of getting older is realizing that every relationship — even, if not especially, those you have with your friends — take work. You take your friendships for granted. You think they’ll always be there. Then somebody moves. Or goes to grad school. Or gets married. Or changes careers. And suddenly, no one has time for anyone anymore. And you become one of those thousands of people who say things like, “I’m sorry, I’m just swamped.” (Hint: do not EVER tell anyone you are “booked”. You are not a dentist’s office. You are a person. People cannot be booked. Got it? Good.)
You have no time for seeing your friends anymore, and they don’t have time to see you. You’ll go back and forth with calls and texts and emails and then one day you’ll finally catch up and it will be wonderful and you’ll say you have to do it again…and then you don’t. Ever. And then they move to New York or get married and maybe you’ll be invited and maybe you won’t, and that will be the end of it.
That’s just how it gets when you get older. And no one told me that. No one told me that when you get older, you have to work harder on your friendships. I don’t even know if I have a best friend anymore. I think those went the way of Lisa Frank stickers and Happy Meals — they faded into my youth. I’m just a boring adult who is struggling with work and money and being an adult.
So if I tell you I want to hang out with you, please, hold me to it. I’ll do my best, and I have anxiety about driving, but I’ll try real hard. Because the problem with forever is that it’s pretty damn permanent.
I miss you, Simone.
Photo by Nina Leen, 1950, via LIFE Photo Archives for Google.