Please welcome today’s guest writer, Kyric Koning. Lyric graduated in 2013, majoring in English and minoring in writing and classical studies. He stuck around Grand Rapids after graduating and currently lives in the Grandville area. In his limited “free time,” he participates and has participated in a sporadic assortment of eclectic groups with various degrees of frequency, and upholds a rather atypical approach to friendship. We probably won’t hang out.

“We should totally hang out.”

Whose mouth utters the words first is hard to discern, but ultimately irrelevant. The certainty is there, shining through and holding. Obstacles—overcome. Time speeds into negligibility or expands to infinity, as our situation demands. Distance breached through a piece of you always within me.

We make it work—we always have. It hasn’t been easy, though to those ignorant of truth or true friendship it might appear so. Our challenges chained us closer and forged something unbreakable, something irreplaceable. We hold each others’ hearts in our hands and speak our minds—and sometimes the other’s.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We should totally hang out.”

Odd words, but true. Odd because we’ve been together since birth. But true because we aren’t conjoined twins—thank God—and because time distances everyone. Time also grants knowledge, knowledge unknown even to the most intimate. You know the darkness within that I’d never reveal because you saw it unfold.

More often than not, that’s comforting. More comforting is the familiarity. Your habits, behaviors, moods, and thoughts are a movie I’ve watched annually, yet apparently slept through parts—repeatedly. Knowing our togetherness didn’t come completely by choice, yet is still strong, persistent, and desirable speaks volumes.

The road was certainly more dangerous—violent, even. One of us probably should be dead (I wanted it several times). You’ve pulled me into so much crap and gotten me out of more. You’ve mentored, hurt, blessed, and lied to me to the point I wonder if forgiveness and thankfulness are actually the same after all.

I’m stuck with you and you with me—that’s life.

“We should totally hang out.”

If only life were more accommodating. So much changed—some of it matters. Planning a gathering demands more than the friendship. Throw in everyone’s schedules and you find yourself with a potentially undrinkable cocktail. But you do it anyway. For them. Always for them. But also for you. You need this, regardless of how much you realize.

Once the time arrives, memories flow like alcohol from a bar. Each time brings a different drink. A sweet wine of a secret shared. The bitter beer of misunderstood actions. The burning whiskey of concealed envy. Vodka’s catharsis of discovering common ground.

Some gatherings, the drinking extends past night. Others, you can only handle a shot. Each morning-after offers the same awareness—imbibed memories feed either the warmth or emptiness already inside.

Both—I think—are needed.

“We should totally hang out.”

Obligation requires at least that much. We see each other regularly. Friends of friends is still something. We’ve made tentative plans to meet and canceled them. Totally normal.

The thing is—you’re sort of “that guy” (you know the one). Not someone to avoid, but definitely replaceable. You understand. We have our roles. You probably have your own crew whose company you’d much rather enjoy. We can even discuss it during our next encounter, as we tell each-other how much better it’d have been were we there.

Next time, I promise—always next time.

“We should totally hang out.”

The words stare back from my phone before being slowly resigned to nothingness. We can no longer be. Decisions were made, by Fate and us. Thinking about it doesn’t help. This is one of those feeling situations, where one particular dominates—your piercing absence.

A smile started everything. Or the words. Time caught us, sometimes together. We orbited each other, seeking the proper course. The journey gave many lessons, when I paid attention.

A smile can be a promise. Or merely a smile. I have had a hard time detecting which. And so I keep playing a game, unaware of what I’ve lost. I have a little understanding now.

The same path can be used by different people at different times. It could be called a miracle we journeyed together at all. I—I wish we had a little longer.

Did you once stare down at those same words, poised in your phone?

I ache not knowing.

“We should totally hang out.”

The lie comes easily. Situations such as this feel like they require politeness and kindness more than truth. You aren’t to blame. Not really. You’re great. Fun to be around, full of interesting stories. I always learn something new.

It’s just—you don’t share my values. Every moment spent with you makes that abundantly clear. Around you, I don’t feel like myself. You parade your ways, entice me to follow. The problem is, I don’t want to be like you. I can’t stand becoming something I hate—with you, the sensation clings.

Perhaps I’m not being open-minded enough. Perhaps I can influence you for the better. I’ve thought about it‒a lot. I still don’t have the answer.

I only have the lie.

“We should totally hang out.”

Nameless and faceless to me you are. Close, but not intimate. We share nothing and everything. Yet you speak.

I can appreciate that, when alone.

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