Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Friendship in a Bar

The lead singer was belting out One Republic's latest song, Counting Stars as Mark sat there, counting the number of earrings the male singer was wearing. He has a total of ten on both his ears, five more than his female lead sitting next to him. Mark listened a little while more to their song, before turning his attention back to his half finished Paulaner. The bar was fully packed tonight, tables filled with people talking and laughing away, all of them having a good time.

It was Chinese New Year after all, trumpeted as the event where the greatest human migration every year, where everyone goes back to their hometown to visit their families and also to catch up with long lost friends. It's a time where you 

Not Mark though. Unlike the other tables, there was only one person on his table, him. He took another sip from his glass, admiring its smooth taste, before feeling sad again. This trip back home should have been a good one, he thought, where old friends come together, chat and laugh about old times. At least that was how it was supposed to be. That was what he was seeing in everyone's life. His social media news feed has been peppered with happy reunions with friends by everyone. Everyone but him.

Mark tried to think about what went wrong. Was it because of his two years of absence from his hometown? Was he in a way forgotten, or was he never appreciated to begin with? Or could it simply be that everyone else has moved on? That the friendship that Mark used to remember how it used to be is no longer there? 

Mark looked at the table of about six people next to him. There were four guys and two girls, all of them dressed nicely. Like many of the photos that he saw on Facebook, they were chatting around happily, like how friends supposed to be, like how he and his friends used to be. 

But people change, don't they?

As much as Mark wanted to be angry and to put the blame on someone, he can't. After all, he has been outside of his friends life for so long, and naturally he would not be part of his friend's new experiences and life during his absence. What he did have was just memories of how their relationship used to be, of a time when they were in school with a whole different loads of concerns.

Now, almost all of them were in different stages of life, some married, some working, some still studying,and thus it was natural for them to have lesser and lesser in common. Even if they do meet up, the only thing that binds them together are the memories of their past, and Mark was not sure if that is a good thing to bind friendships together.

It's hard to expect a friendship to stay the same after years of neglect, which was why hoping to find the everything the way they used to be was probably hoping for too much. The lead singer is thanking everyone now for the support, before moving of the stage and having the normal pre-played music resume on the speakers. Mark eyed his glass. He has about a quarter of beer left.

The group next to him are leaving now, each promising to keep in touch via social media. 

Perhaps the dynamics of the friendship never changes, Mark tried to counter. If someone is really your true friend, no matter how much time passes, the way you talk and treat each other would still be the same. Sure, people might change over time, but the memories inside a person and the feelings the memories evoked hardly undergo any radical transformation. It stays intact in our heart. 

Unless we have a bad case of amnesia, that is.

If a friendship is really authentic, not matter how much distance or time has elapsed, both parties would still want the dynamics to stay the same. You would still chat with your friend how you used to five years ago, and even though there will be a lot of missing gaps in between the experiences that you share, it shouldn't be too much of a boundary to overcome. The soul of the friendship would still be there. 

Mark thought a little while more about the friends who remembered him, about the friends who did not. Even if his friends did change for the better, at least he is going to put a little more effort before throwing in the towel. And the last thing that he should be doing is to sit in a bar alone and mope.

Mark emptied his glass before taking one last look at his phone. It's time to give someone a call.


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