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The Drift

Realization: I am, without a doubt, just a plain old human being.  I know.  Devastating, really.

Tonight, I’m thinking of “the drift.”

The drift occurs when the emotional space between two people expands at a seemingly infinitesimal, yet constant rate. It is what begins as forgetting to return a phone call and ends in a faint memory of someone you knew quite well a very long time ago. The drift is painful, hopeless and, 99% of the time, permanent. There is no "un-drifting" once you've drifted.

When you walked in, I felt a peaceful knowing in my heart that we were going to have great adventures together. You looked shy. I knew you had no idea how beautiful you were. I was going to show you that.

I mean, for me, my life is full. I have to make room for everything, anything.  If I want to breathe, I have to look at my to do list. I have a space between 11:45 and 11:50... I can breathe in those five minutes or I can make an awkward phone call. I barely have time for the people with whom I have relationships that are not awkward and forced, so who needs that?

As I convinced you that you were just as beautiful on the outside as you were on the inside, you taught me to believe that I was brave, wise and strong. With you by my side, I no longer had to pretend to be that. I was that... because you saw that when you saw me. Your eyes made me real.

People will say things.

"Make time to fix this thing."

"Friendship is important."

"Hold on."

"Don’t let go."

And other lyrics from ".38 Special."

Others understand. This is who I am.  My life is this way because I want it to be this way. I seriously don’t have time for this kind of thing.

Even when there were oceans between us, we were inseparable. Two thumps in one heartbeat... blood rushing in, blood rushing out. Absent from the day to day of each others’ lives, one phone call would cascade in a blanket of reassurance. You are loved, blood in, you are perfect, blood out.

We’re all grown ups here and while I realize that some people prefer their reality sugar coated, I'm more of the "hold the sugar, give it to me straight up" kind of woman. My heart is too full and my life is just too busy to harbor a silly, childish hope that we can just pick up right where we left off. There is now only time for picking up socks and groceries and kids from practices.

You loved, accepted and admired me without any reservation or envy and, most importantly, without any expectation. You are the only person I have never feared I’d disappoint. If I am honest with myself, no one had ever loved me like that, nobody has loved me like that since, and I suspect that nobody ever will.

When the drift happens, it happens because it’s what both of the people want. People will fight to protect something they need. People let things that are no longer relevant to them fade away. Either way, it’s important to note that everyone in the situation is making a choice.

Conscientiousness optional.

I looked up one day and you were simply not there anymore. I was hurt, alone and, yes, a little angry. Babies have been born, rings exchanged, people buried. Suddenly, I realized that I couldn’t even remember the last time I looked in your direction. I also realize that nobody seems to ask whose fault it is when a book ends. This isn't much different.

The drift itself, while painful, is not the excruciating thing. The real pain shows up when it hits you that there will probably be more drifts and that everyone is a potential drift candidate.

You will never be replaced. I cannot move on. There is no “letting go” of you. There is only an ache in my heart, a lump in my throat, and the horrible realization that there is nothing I can do. I don’t know you anymore and you don’t know me and we are past the point of pretending with any degree of credibility that this is not the reality of who we are to each other. I cannot pretend this is not happening anymore.

The drift is the best reason to hold the people still in your life a little tighter today. Because those moments after a drift, you’ll find the certainty that all this won’t last forever firmly, if not tragically, renewed. Sometimes, you've got to just take a deep breath somewhere between 11:45 and 11:50 and pay attention to right now. This minute. Here.


Reader Comments (48)

Yes - I think the only person I can't imagine drifting away from is Gilda, although I suppose that happens in families, too. Of course, it'll happen to some extent when she's older in general, but hopefully not to that extent!
Also, I prefer the drift to some drama filled, angsty, emotional agreement, I guess.


March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSybil Law

When the drift happens, it happens because it’s what both of the people want. People will fight to protect something they need. People let things that are no longer relevant to them fade away. Either way, it’s important to note that everyone in the situation is making a choice.

I know this to be true. Certainly there are people in our lives who are forever, and there are people who are there for a season. As painful as it can be, we need to trust the process.

I hope the drift never happens to us. :)

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

wow. that was beautiful said faiqa.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiza

I hope I never drift away from our friendship. You and your family are just too special to let go off easily.

I have friends from childhood that I might not speak with for six months, but then when we do finally get a chance to connect, it really is as if not a day has passed by since we last spoke (minus all the catching up).

BUT!!! with all that said, I do need to better myself in the "keeping in touch" department.

Love you.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSahar

I'm sorry...let's be friends again.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterthe muskrat

Heart-breaking. I want to argue with every word of this, because it's too heart-breaking. But I can't, because every word of this is true.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLuda

powerful piece.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhello haha narf

This hits me in a way that I can't even fully verbalize what it makes me feel.

Thank you. I needed to read this today.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJW Moxie

I hate when I realize that I'm drifting from someone. It's heartbreaking. I do have a couple of friends, though, that we drift for a while and then always end up right back next to each other. It's definitely not always permanent -- and sometimes, you can even go back. I guess it just depends on the initial strength of the relationship, and whether anyone wants to rekindle.

There are, however, a couple of people I've drifted from whom I really miss, and no matter how many times I've made the effort to rebuild, they remain distant. "Yeah, let's get together!" they'll say, but we both know we won't. It's sad, but I've discovered the ones I hold on to are more worth it.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

This is so true, as much as it's hard to accept. That said, I do have a couple of friends I'm able to do that not talking for a while/pick up where you left off thing, and I treasure that. It's very rare though and generally requires a long relationship.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I don't know. At least, with the drama/angst, there's closure. I hate open ended stuff. It drives me nuts.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

I value our relationship a lot, more so than I tell you. I hope that it doesn't happen to us, too. Better than that, I will work so that it doesn't.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Thanks, Liza.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Honestly? You are very unique in my life -- a very rare person that I can pick up with any time. It doesn't matter how different our lives have been or how similar, you are like family to me... but even more than family. I definitely feel that "not a day has passed" thing with you every time I see you and always wonder why we don't see each other more often. (Well, now, there's a good reason, but you know what I mean). I love you, too.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

I don't know. I'm pretty attached to the idea of at the very least knowing where you hide the bodies. Give me a location. I promise I won't tell ANYONE.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Comments like this make me feel better. At least I know it's not just me. Thanks.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Thanks, hon. XO back at you.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

You're welcome. Love to you.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Please let's not ever drift, OK?

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Britt

I think part of it has to do with when one or both parties become complicit in their silence about the awkwardness. Honestly, the drift happens when there's not much fight left in each person... or even one person in the relationship.

March 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

I have that, too. I'm a little confused by this particular situation because I really thought this specific relationship was one of those one where I could always pick up. It kind of hit me out of nowhere.

March 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

I think both of us are too committed (or lack the self control) to being honest with ourselves and with one another to let that happen. I said in an earlier reply that this drift seems to happen when things are left unsaid and the awkwardness just grows because it's left unaddressed. I think you and me together are just incapable of letting awkwardness sit unattended. Thankfully. So, to answer your question: okay.

March 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

*"lack the self control" it takes to push things down until we forget about them. I'm so incapable that I admire people who can do that... how strange is THAT?

March 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

So much truth here, elegantly spoken. Oh, our hearts.

March 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeb Rox

From time to time you seem to touch a side of me I usually bury quite well with my poorly pretended dash and elan. If you were to whittle away all my artifice and phony airs, you would probably find farina for a soul here. I'm not sure who, in your past, this is addressed to but whoever it is is an idiot for allowing the drift. This is nicely done, Faiqa.

March 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRW

That's not self control, that's self delusion or emotional immaturity!

April 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Britt

Bittersweet and beautiful- but also one line that made me snort out loud:

And other lyrics from “.38 Special.”

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April 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterArsenal shirt

I know about "The Drift" and have experienced it several times...notably as we speak. I feel like I am drifting away from several people in my life that I dearly love. I think "the drift" is part of life because "friendships" are so fluid and people grow and change. Unfortunately, some of us grow apart rather than together.

I know I probably sound really negative about this (totally not my intention!!!!), but sometimes, the best way to move on is to see the situation for what it IS rather than what you want it to be and try to live accordingly. :)

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April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMargie Uptegraft

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April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterConnie C. Khan

Thanks, my friend.

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Often people use words like "honored" and engage in hyperbolic expressions about how wonderful a comment is or how it si the best. It's taken me a while to respond to this because I was trying to construct a response that would not emulate that. And I couldn't. I am not someone who cares about what most people think, but am one who is very concerned with a few people think. You are one of those few. This comment meant very much to me. In the scores of comments I've gotten over the years, this is one of the best. If not the best. Thank you, my friend, I am honored by your words.

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

It made me snort out loud, too.

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

No, you don't sound negative. There is negative and then there is calling it like it is. I think you did the latter. Here's to the you who is becoming.

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

You are welcome... from my heart.

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Kuch samajh nahi aaya bohat high level concepts hein. Hopefully one day I will be able to understand!!!!

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

I'm sure that person has an unshakable amount of respect for you, and they completely understand. People come in and out of our lives when they're suppose to, and it doesn't mean they don't love or care for you. My opinion is that a relationship doesn't have to be deemed dead just because its quiet. The last thing anyone wants to be is overbearing.
Some of my best relationships are the ones where I don't have to say anything because the person on the other end already knows how I feel. We're not telepathic, there is just nothing left to prove to each other. I think that's great.
Don't apologize, don't explain, it's fine.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterK

WOW... I think I just got hit on the head with another dose of "Faiqa Reality"!

I miss seeing your beautiful face and family... but, I still come to visit you here!!

I hope all is well in your world....

GREAT PIECE here... AWESOME as a matter of fact :-)

April 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDede

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