Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Somewhere along the way

I'm "working from home" today, because my car needed to go to the shop, and the shop I like to take it to opens on the weekends only if the owner feels like it. I respect that level of whimsy in a business owner, even if it makes things a little inconvenient for me.

In reality, I'm sitting in a coffee shop which has free wifi and will refill my mug with hot water for free if I'm willing to reuse the tea bag they gave me - in fact he suggested I do that when I went to buy another cup of tea. I'm being surprisingly productive too - I'm usually utterly unproductive when I work from home, but I've churned out a pretty decent amount of work in the last couple of hours.

The coffee shop's keeping fairly busy. There are the college students sitting and reading, working, looking up Google Maps et al., the business meetings between serious and worried looking folks, and a couple of people who look like they're replying to very important emails. And amidst all of us, there's a table at the other end of the shop with three women and a baby. The baby's been passed from woman to woman since I've been here, and so I'm not entirely sure who the mother is - nuggets of conversations overheard seem to suggest one of them definitely is. Their conversation has flowed almost incessantly, and ranged from excited squeals to sympathetic murmurs, from advice based on recent holiday experiences to complaints about a boss and a tricky job situation. I'm not sure how old the three of them are - I would have assumed older than me, at one point, but I'm beginning to realize I'm growing older, so maybe not.

And it's making me miss my girls more than usual. My gal pals, as I call them, and which they objected to when they found this out some months back - they claimed they're more the "saheli" type. Which in all fairness, is probably true.

I've known them for more than a decade at this point, my girls. We went to college together, and spent three years giggling and snacking and pretending to study together. And there was drama - of course there was drama. And most of that drama was put aside, eventually. Because not getting over it wasn't worth what we would lose if we didn't. Some were closer to me then, some are closer now. Some didn't seem that close but were the ones who reached out when I needed someone to reach out. There were others who were part of us too, but disappeared along the way, for reasons that were delved into way more often that we should have. I had different equations with each of them, and each of those equations have changed over the years. But the four of them will always top any list I make of loved ones.

I hardly speak to them anymore, my girls. The occasional whatsapp message, sure. But I never talk to them. I've never been good at just picking up the phone and calling up someone because I felt like it; I suppose it goes back to the kind of person I am. And somewhere along the way, they stopped calling too. I used to send them articles I came across and found interesting; I never got too many responses, so somewhere along the way, I stopped.

We used to have the most hilarious email chains going on once upon a time; I spent hours trying to muffle my laughter at work once upon a time. The replies used to be fast and furious, till you didn't know who was replying to what. One girl would never respond for days, then appear with a one-liner once in a while, and vanish again. Those stopped too, somewhere along the way.

Three of them are in the same city, all four of them in the same continent. Some of them were on a different continent for a while when I was still home, and came back around the time I was getting ready to leave. Three of them got married in the past, what, 18 months? I missed all three weddings, and it broke my heart not to be there to see these girls, these girls I've loved for so long now, marry the men they've chosen to love. It made me question those life choices all over again, every single time.

Just before I left home, three years ago, I came across this article and sent it to them. And every time I miss them more than usual, I pull it up and read it again. Today's one of those days.

Because I hardly talk to them anymore, my girls. It shouldn't be so hard, you know. In this day and age, between gtalk and whatsapp and Skype and Google Voice and whatnot, it shouldn't be this hard. Even when I'm in town, meeting them seems harder than it should be. Everyone's busy, everyone has lives, everyone has things to do, whether it's getting on with life, planning for a wedding, or trying to cram every possible thing on the list into two weeks of vacation. But it sometimes feels like it's harder than it should be.

But there are priorities, and there are egos, I suppose, and there are histories, some of which are easier to get past than others. I suppose. So I hardly talk to my girls anymore. And I miss them. And I never tell them that I miss them.


Runjoo said...

Thats an extremely poignant post...made me think of all my gal pals...

a traveller said...