A Landscape of Friendship

friends-landscape

 

Sotonye and I were friends first. I forget now, how we met, that memory superseded by memories of our friendship: the innocence of it. We walked around town and hopped on buses to places too far to walk like the old amphitheatre at the university. One afternoon, we sat together on a leather beanbag, shoulders rubbing, while we fiddled with the controls of my parent’s Panasonic sound system. We took turns to put our cassettes into the tape deck and listen to each other’s mix tape.

“Sit apart!” my mother’s voice startled us. Before I could understand the implication of her words, Sotonye had sprung to the chair farthest from the beanbag, and from me, in the living room. That day heralded the beginning of the end of our friendship, I think.

After I met his best friends, Charles and Karibi, I saw Sotonye less and less. He caved under my persistent interrogation and admitted that he had kept a distance because Charles had warned him that girls like me could derail a guy’s destiny.

I should have told him that I was hurt, but I did not. I could have pointed out that in his stead, Charles was now spending more time with me, the destiny-stealer, and Karibi was a close second, borrowing books from the library to feed my love for books, but I did not. Universities were on strike and Sotonye was convinced that his future lay in the United Kingdom. His plans to relocate consumed his focus.

Ten years have passed since the alliance—three boys, then two boys and one girl— we formed crumbled because we grew up and went to discover ourselves on the map.

Presently, Charles and I are having lunch after a chance encounter earlier in the week, and I am reminding him of how we met. He is laughing so hard, he begins to cough.

“That’s not how it happened, didn’t I meet you first?”

“You wish,” I say, rolling my eyes.

“I can’t believe I did my guy like that!” He slaps his thigh, still amused.

“Better believe it; do you know where Sotonye is now?”

“Last I heard he’s still in the UK, directing theatre productions or something weird like that. That’s what Karibi said when I bumped into him, last year.”

“Karibi . . .” I say wistfully.

“You always liked him. That traitor who swooped in when I left for school—”

“No, it wasn’t like that at all. He was like a big brother to me.”

“Yeah, right!”

“Go away joor. He was the sweetest boy I’ve ever known.”

“That’s because he didn’t shave your head. Abeg, leave that thing!”

“We all were great friends . . .”

“Yes,” he agrees, “but you did not understand boys.”

We distill years past by exchanging phones and swiping photos, who’s this and where’s that, make our puzzle pieces fit faster. But photographs cannot capture all. Suddenly, Charles looks down at his drink and admits to being a closet alcoholic.

“It’s not so bad,” he says, looking up at me.

I nod. In the movement of my head and the steady gaze of my eyes, there is no judgement.

“Why don’t you tell someone who can hold you accountable on the road to recovery—”

“What! You haven’t changed! You’re still naïve . . . like back then . . .”

I trace the rim of my glass with my finger, uneasy and unsure of what he means.

“You still think everyone is like you, and everything is black and white,” he answers my unspoken question.

“No not really—”

“You trust easily. Haven’t people hurt you . . . enough?”

I sigh. Maybe I should not have let him look at all my photos.

“I am no longer afraid of getting hurt. But this isn’t about me. Isn’t your secret too heavy to bear alone?”

“I’ll survive. I haven’t told anyone . . . I don’t even know why I told you.”

I know why he told me. In just two hours, we have travelled back to the road leading to my parent’s house, where, unable to stop his voice trembling, he confided in me about his parent’s impending divorce.

The moment passes and we reminisce about happier times, about the place near the overhead bridge where we met in the evenings after Sotonye left. Charles would arrive with a packet of cigarettes and after he dragged on a cigarette a bit, he passed it round. I took tentative puffs while Karibi backed away as if it were a snake, reminding Charles of his asthma and me of the dangers of lung cancer.

“I gave up smoking,” Charles says. “Best thing I ever did.”

I nod again.

“You were the glue . . .” he begins.

“Nah,” I say, “Sotonye—”

“It’s true, everything was centred around you.”

He signals to the waiter for another drink. I shake my head, no.

“Do you think . . . answer me honestly, Charles . . . that boys and girls can just be friends?”

His answer is slow to come.

“I don’t know,” he says at last. “Even back then, Sotonye, Karibi, and I, wanted more.”

 

© Timi Yeseibo 2017

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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39 thoughts on “A Landscape of Friendship

  1. I always had guy friends, right up until the time I married. Many, however, did want more. I think it’s tough for a guy to be ‘just friends’ with a girl, but pretty easy for girls to be friends with guys. Of course though, there are exceptions.
    Great piece Timi. Is it fictional or true?
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting observation about it being easier for girls than boys. Thanks for sharing.

      Fictional, because I wanted to have this conversation and a story seemed like the best medium … However, there are elements of my experience and that of others sprinkled in, which I think lends credibility.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t quite have a guy friend like that at this time. I did over 20 yrs. ago while he and I each our own partners.

    So hence my stories in this direction just boring.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been friends with this guy for a couple of years and at first every one else didn’t believe we were just friends. Maybe he entertained those those thoughts or just started wanting more without the stimuli, I don’t know but he actually stopped talking to me for a couple of months and later told me he didn’t want to confuse our friendship with something we couldn’t take back. We’re still really close friends.

    Those are some tricky relationships to maneuver!

    Love your writing by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like you, my answer, born from experience is yes… but I’ll qualify it with, it depends. 🙂

      Saw this quote and I think that the converse works as well…

      “Women can form a friendship with a man very well; but to preserve it, a slight physical antipathy most probably helps.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Boys always want more. I had a very good friend recently who was very young, too young for me I always knew, but I was still very attracted to her. We hung out a lot and had a lot of fun together.That attraction drove our relationship but I cared enough about her and our friendship that I never violated her trust. She moved away but we are still friends. In the end that it what is most important.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The conversations Timi, the conversations.

    Can boys and girls be just friends?
    Not sure, somebody will always want more. Backing off a little bit will help, but a certain closeness will be lost.
    PS: No need saying I enjoyed reading this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Backing off a little bit will help, but a certain closeness will be lost.”

      I suppose you can’t have the emotional intimacy of lovers and be just friends. I assume some lines have blurred because they need to ‘back off’. The challenge I guess, lies in finding the new normal …

      Glad you enjoyed reading. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, Timi. Charles sounds like a good friend. But so are you.
    I’ve had this conversation with guys and girls. I think that guys and girls can be friends. I have guy friends with whom I’ve gone to the movies and lunch. We know that we’ll never date each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This definitely brought back memories! Call me idealist but I believe it is possible. Relationships are like teenagers, trying to find out who they are. They make mistakes but eventually accept who they are and find balance and peace with their identities. Not many people achieve this however so its easy to see how it seems impossible. Nice post!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I suppose us guys can sometimes feel like it is macho to bear our burdens alone and not share them….. A recipe for a future implosion as I have found out to my detriment.. But I suppose we can all chalk that up as a learning experience…

    Guys and girls being just friends? Not impossible, but extremely difficult in my humble opinion…. I suspect that will always be an unequal friendship, one party will always want more than the other is willing to give…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @ learning experience, yes. I hope people learn from the experiences of others.

      A platonic friendship between guys and girls can be indeed difficult to navigate … with proximity comes the possibility and perhaps the opportunity for attraction … Happier are those who bond like siblings.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. “I am no longer afraid of getting hurt. But this isn’t about me. Isn’t your secret too heavy to bear alone?”

    Hmmm… How does it feel not to be afraid to get hurt? I guess thats when you’ve had a lot! And You tend to expect less from people even close ones.

    Well done Ma’am!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “How does it feel not to be afraid to get hurt?”

      I suppose that it must be liberating. I think that if you’ve been hurt and you’ve been healed several times, and you know your healer, it empowers you to open your heart, yet again.

      Thanks.

      Like

  10. “Do you think . . . answer me honestly, Charles . . . that boys and girls can just be friends?”

    I think so. At least until one party wants to be more than just friends. Unfortunately, we don’t choose how we feel but what we do with our feelings is (kinda) up to us.

    I got nostalgic reading this and I think I have a few texts to send and emails to shoot. [Calling is for people that have credit]

    Thank you for sharing, Timi.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I was forced to remember old friendships that disappeared, or perhaps I simply outgrew.

    Lol @ “Sit apart!” She said so little yet meant so much.

    Well, between boys and girls, I believe that the way humans are wired they eventually… the phrase that best describes this is – “catch feelings” 😀

    Liked by 3 people

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