Burning Bridges.

2 Apr

“The hardest thing in life is figuring out which bridges to build and which bridges to burn.”

Throughout my life, my mom has warned me about the concept of burning bridges, pointing out that I should think before I burn something that I may want later. The concept of burning bridges for me has come up a lot with past friendships. Up until recently, I was very clingy with friends and often became upset when they didn’t want to always hang out with me. I wanted to spend a lot of time with them, so I didn’t understand why they didn’t want the same thing.

My first best friend Lauren (who is still one of my best friends) taught me what it meant to be a true friend. She became my best friend in 7th grade, and until that time, I wasn’t really aware of what true friendship was. Through my friendship with Lauren, I learned that there’s nothing wrong with caring fiercely about others, while also realizing that it is possible to be truly happy. From 7th grade until 10th grade, Lauren and I were incredibly close. We talked about boys, high schools, fears, dreams and everything in between. She was one of the first people I felt like I could count on no matter what.

During the summer after 10th grade, things began to change. I was going to be leaving for boarding school at the end of that summer, and I needed someone to turn to for support and advice. When that person wasn’t Lauren, I panicked. I had no idea what I would do without her friendship, but most of all I was confused as to why she was hardly talking to me. In the middle of that summer, I got a call from Lauren in which she asked if she could drop something off. I hadn’t heard from her in a month or so, so I was hesitant, but finally said okay. About 15 minutes after that phone call, Lauren showed up with a cardboard box full of things. She handed it to me without saying a word and left. I looked in the box to find pictures, things I had given her, memories….all that was left of our friendship. It was in my hands….broken…and already far away from the person who would be able to mend it. That afternoon, I got all the things together that reminded me of Lauren (pictures, movie ticket stubs, things she gave me, t-shirts from concerts that we went to together, and put it all in the same box that held the things she had given me. I also went onto my computer and deleted every picture of us that I could find. I then placed the box in the back of my closet and willed myself to not pull it out again. A month or so later, when I was packing for boarding school, my mom came across the box and asked me what I wanted her to do with it. Without even thinking, I told her to throw everything away.

When I came home from Salem over Christmas Break, Lauren called me. I didn’t answer. She then called my house phone, so there was no getting out of speaking to her. She asked if she could come over, and I said okay even though the rest of me was screaming no. When I hung up the phone, the color had gone out of my face. I had shallow breaths, and I was pacing and crying hysterically, asking my mom what I should do. When Lauren came over, it was awkward at first. I was cold towards her because I was scared to imagine letting a friend hurt me again like she had done. Without even saying anything, I started crying, and she hugged me, telling me that it was okay. Lauren then said that she was unsure of what had happened between us and that she was sorry. I knew right then that if I was able to forgive her that we would be able to get through anything.

I later realized that the reason Lauren reacted the way she did that summer and the months until Christmas Break was because being angry was the only way she could handle my leaving. If she allowed herself to feel anything but anger towards me, she’d fall apart. Today, Lauren is one of three people who I call my best friends. No matter how much time has passed, we’re always able to pick up right where we left off, and I know that she’ll be there for me through anything. However, every day I regret getting rid of all the pictures and memories of the early days of our friendship. I hate that I can’t look back at those pictures and remark on how I wouldn’t have gotten through those 3 years of high school without her. In the case of the box of “Lauren Memories,” I burned a bridge that I shouldn’t have. Though it breaks my heart that I can’t ever see those pictures again, it also taught me a lesson of what to do with friendships in the future. Now, if I have a fallout with a friend, I do make “friend boxes” and put them in my closet, but I always remember to not throw anything out. If I hate the stuff that moment, I can put it in a box in my closet so that I don’t have to be reminded of the memories every day, but burning the memories…..watching moments catch flame and turn to ash….it’s as if the memories never even happened. And who would want to completely erase parts of themselves? Every single moment makes us who we are.

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16 Responses to “Burning Bridges.”

  1. Kris Kennedy April 2, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    A lovely contemplation.

  2. Mary April 2, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    LOL! This reminded me of the time when me and my best friend (who was also my classmate from 7th grade) had our own language and alphabet so that teachers couldn’t understand what we were talking about at the lessons and write letters to each other although we were together every day. Despite this sometimes we couldn’t stand each other in the end of a study year but in summer after resting from each other and coming back to school by September we would get along perfectly 😀 😀 😀 No one can replace a childhood friend ❤ ❤ ❤

  3. Mary April 2, 2012 at 9:43 am #

  4. Lisa W. Rosenberg April 2, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Great post Amelia. I am so glad Lauren returned to you and was brave enough to admit why she’d pulled away in the first place. You were brave too; when you cried, you allowed her to see how much you still cared.

    Somewhere in a closet at my mother’s house is a basket of all the notes my best friend and I used to pass in high school. We’re still close. (I guess now that kids text eachother, note passing is a lost art!)

  5. stephenedwards425 April 2, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    The problem with bridge burning is in choosing which one to torch. Those links to negative, life-sucking people are fairly easy to set fire to. The ones to past friends, jobs, or people we come to dislike, for whatever reason, require some real evaluation.

    I have torched more than a few that I wish were still standing…choose wisely.

    Be encoureaged!

  6. Laura April 2, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    You know what this reminded me of…. Rory’s Dean box!

    I know what you mean though. When I was a little kid, from birth up through middle school the girl I called my best friend lived right across the street from my dad’s house, which happened to be about an hour and half away from my mom’s house which I lived most of the time. I went to dad’s every other weekend and half the summer, and most of the time I’d hang out with Amy, my friend. A lot of the things that define me as a person came from her friendship – an insane love for cheesy horror films, obsessions with them really. We used to watch so many bad things that kids should never watch…
    But as I grew older I grew to resent my dad, when I went to “Dad’s house” it was really my grandparent’s house (he lived there) I stopped wanting to go there every other weekend, I had friends at home and my room at home and stuff I wanted to do at home, and I didn’t have those things at his house, other than Amy. My room changed from time to time (it was a big house, my grandparents, dad, aunt and cousin all lived there) So I never had a space there to myself , just the things that I packed with me. So anyway long story short I stopped goign there so often, maybe once every three months. And as time went by I just felt more and more awkward around her, I was getting fat and unpopular, she was on the cheer team and always had cool clothes and I wore clothes from the Dollar Store. Then one day, I just didn’t call her when I went to visit. She saw me leaving to go home and was really mad about it. Then it was more and more awkward, until as the years went by, my visits down there just resulted in a wave and a nod from across the street when I saw her.

    I don’t really have anything from our time together but memories, but they are some of the BEST memories of my childhood. I suppose, nothing can take those away 🙂

    • ameliaclaire92 April 2, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

      Aw, that must have been hard. But yeah, I know what you mean about memories not being able to be taken away from you. Thankfully, I still have the memories, and I love them. However, a small part of me is afraid that I won’t have those memories anymore due to the fears of getting old. In that case, I’m just going to hold on to them as long as humanly possible.

      • Laura April 3, 2012 at 4:50 am #

        True…I think sometimes my mind is going! Once (according to my husband at least) we sat down to watch a movie one night. I dozed so he turned it off. The next night he wanted to finish it and I had no idea what he was talking about. To this day I do not remember watching the first half of that movie – he even started it over from the beginning and I STILL didn’t remember it!

      • ameliaclaire92 April 3, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

        Whew, wow! That must have been weird, or maybe you were just extremely overtired.

  7. Planning 2 Learn April 2, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    I really like your idea of a friend box and can very much related to the struggle of working through conflict with friends. There are definitely bridges I have burned and some gratefully so…some not. How fortunate you both are to have a friendship that transcends time.

  8. byroisinhealy April 3, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    It is so amazing that ye were able to move past what happened, that really is the sign of a true friendship. You really seemed to have learned from what happened, thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. clytia15 April 5, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Wonderful story and an important thing to remember for all of us. It reminds me what a very close friend of mine wrote to me after we’d parted badly: “Don’t let the final pages stain the whole manuscript.” Even if a friendship isn’t rekindled (which is great that it was in this case 🙂 ), we shouldn’t let the result of a relationship diminish the importance of the relationship itself in our lives.

  10. belasbrightideas April 6, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    Smart that you were able to get perspective, in hindsight. People are too valuable to throw away. Of course this comes from someone who is most reluctant to terminate any relationship once forged. Even when it might be best that I did. Still, I’m glad I’m the loyal kind. It’s proved, time and again, to nourish these longstanding connections.

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