I’m drunkenly leaning back in the seat, bemused. Quiet, at that point where I realize that I should have eaten dinner, or perhaps, not had that last drink, or perhaps not the cigarette, perhaps not stood outside for an hour with all the smokers.
Either way, I’m pretty buzzed, and fairly quiet, and quite sure I just want to go to bed.
My friend, my first good “girl” friend in years, the one I can talk to about anything, the first friendship which, in a long time, seems to put up with my quirks and oddities, she started to try and explain to me that I’m her best friend, her truest, the one she can trust and talk to about anything.
I smiled and remained mute.
She repeated herself.
My mouth opened, and yet, no sound escaped. She looked at me and asked if I felt the same way, any sort of connection, would I miss her if she wasn’t there, would I notice?
I hardly miss my kids these days. My time is spent at work, home briefly, eat, work, online a bit, sleep. Repeat. I ask my friend “Have I only been a good person all these years because I was with someone I didn’t think was good? Am I a bad mother because lately, my heart just isn’t in it and I wonder, oh lo I wonder, do I love anything at this point, my kids included?
I feel detached, like a scab hanging from a healed place on the skin. Superfluous. Their father comes to claim them, and holds them like a dying man in the desert clings to water. I find myself short tempered and craving silence, my moments with them full of voices and nattering and needs. I do not miss them when they are away.
I rarely, if ever, miss anyone. Hardly have since, well, forever. Have I been taught that missing people only ends in sadness, in regret? Or am I broken? Am I rendered forever incapable of attaching normally, instead privy only to this hollow place in my chest, simmering with fear and distance, echoey and blank?
It’s not about a person. It’s not about the kids. It is, I’ve come to notice, me. Something has snapped, and while I can feel and speak of theoretical love, while I can wax poetic about the nuance of seeing myself mirrored in a child, or feel reflected in another person, I cannot truly feel these things. Even drunk, even incapacitated, I feel nothing more than a dim light of affection or empathy.
But not love. The desire to not be alone maybe, a thirst to be known, to be seen. But not love.
I know it bothers her. Friends are people who care, right? Friends are people who hold you up in the bathroom, who make sure you get home safe, who listen to you cry or laugh. And I do these things, without labels, without meaning, because this is what a friend does.
But is that enough for people? Would that be enough for you?