birthday conversations, part V.

It was a mellow kind of Sunday; slow and easy, though not at all breezy.

It was 330 PM by the time we boarded the bus headed back to my apartment, two hours before her train departs from California Avenue station to San Francisco’s 4th & King station. We seated ourselves at the back of the bus, left side. Always left. Sometimes we fell silent, neither of us saying anything at all, lost in our respective thoughts. When you’ve been friends for so long like we have – eleven years – silence becomes exactly what it is: silence. No awkwardness or urgency to fill in the gaps. The air that day still reeked of nostalgia from the night before.

That day was March 22, 2015.

I took out my phone and opened Facebook. I looked up an old friend’s name and heeded the instruction to Write something… on her wall with “Happy Birthday! I hope you’ve been well.” Short, sweet, and to the point. Nothing excessive or out of the ordinary. Because even if I wanted to forget – or pretend to forget, how could I? Her birthday is a day before mine. She who has never once forgotten to send me an annual heartfelt birthday wish, how could I not return the favor in kind each year?

Then I looked up another old friend’s name; the newly-crowned bride from yesterday. Once again, I heeded the instruction to Write something… and this time with “Congratulations on your wedding! I’m sorry again I couldn’t make it – but I saw photos and you look lovely! My best wishes to you both.”

I tapped my friend’s shoulder.

“Is this okay? Does this sound okay? Do I sound… sincere?”

She read through my congratulatory message.

“Yup. Sounds good.”

I clicked Post, before I changed my mind.

“See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

I gave a sheepish smile but no conclusive answer. We naturally fell silent again. Then I turned my head to look out the window, a weak attempt at avoiding her knowing gaze. I held back my tears; not now, I scolded myself. Not now, not ever.

That wasn’t so hard, was it?

If only you knew.


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