A Note on Empty Mailboxes...
I checked. Then I checked again. And again. It was like turning that key in my mailbox had a promise – that somehow, in times before, I miraculously missed something. That the anxiety that I had lost a friend was all wrong.
It was the first missed invite. The first that shook me to its core in its absence. I had to come to terms: Facebook let me know my friend was getting married, and I was not invited.
What particularly stung about this one? Surely this was not the first wedding of a friend I hadn’t been invited to – but for the others, we hadn’t spoken for years – growing apart after I moved to DC for college. While even that slightly stung, I knew it was for good reason – after all, what could I expect?
I know I’m not the only one who prides themselves on how busy they are. New town, new college, new friends – you look up and realize that its been months since speaking to the very people that held you together when moving into new opportunities seemed beyond belief – the very people who enabled you to take on new things and forget them – ouch. You realize now they didn’t deserve that, but this delayed realization and the embarrassment of crawling back to them and rekindling a fire that’s long been out is too much. So you keep it moving, focusing on the relationships now in front of you in your new environment. It’s better, regardless of the regret you feel, to leave it to rest.
But this one was different – it was my first missed invite that I didn’t expect. After all, this person was a good friend from DC – someone who I celebrated my engagement with, and who was at my own wedding six months ago. Why didn’t I see this coming?
As I pull out my phone to congratulate her on her upcoming wedding in a few days, my phone reminds me that the last text conversation we had was when she did the same for me – ouch. That meant I hadn’t reached out since returning from my honeymoon, moving, and starting school, even though I had plenty of time to watch Law & Order when things got stressful and I needed a “break.”
And the question keeps repeating: Why didn’t I see this coming?
Daring to step outside my feelings and looking objectively – what did I expect? In a world where everything is instantaneous and scrolling through pics and statuses make us feel close, tricking us into feeling like we are keeping tabs on our relationships despite distance, the fact was that I wasn’t doing the real work. In an overly connected world, we feel connected even if we aren’t extending any real effort, as though typing “congratulations” as a comment while I’m in bed not able to sleep is really doing my job in being there. Let’s face it -- an app can tell us how many “friends” we have, but cannot build friendships unless we want to.
I remember my wedding, where myself and this friend had such a blast. I was so thankful for what she had done for me over the years and was so excited for her wedding. Because, after all, I assumed that because she had been there for me that we were friends – totally forgetting that friendship, by definition, implies a two-way street, not just in chill times, but in hard ones too. The biggest tragedy of all, is that we – myself included – gage how well our friendships are doing by what others do for us, instead of what we are doing for them. Now I’m sitting here, looking into the still-empty mailbox that being “busy” gave me. “Busy” invited me to my own party, but excluded me from prioritizing what and who actually mattered.
If you’re seeing this, I love you. And I wish you the best.
As for me, I’ll sign off, and actually make an effort.
Natalie Neilson Edwards is the Founder & CEO of Broomstick, a company she created when she realized getting mad at the lack of realness & representation in the wedding world wasn’t going to solve the problem. In her spare time, she watches crime shows, cooks Sunday suppers, works towards her Wharton MBA, and plays with her husband Austin and four-legged brother-in-law, Brutus.
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