We know how devastating and life-changing it is to break up with a love partner. We have many songs, poems, and great novels that describe the ache and dolor of ending a romantic relationship. My experience breaking up with a college friend after many, many years was maybe not equal to the loss of a love, but it was bitter and shattering anyway.
It’s easy to make deep and lasting friendships at a residential college, when many students of the same age are living together, going to classes, games, and parties together, while also going through times of great growth and change. How many thrilling, soul-satisfying nights did we spend talking over the meaning of life and our deepest yearnings, the future so endlessly stretched out ahead of us? That’s when I became friends with Shelley (not her real name). We met freshman year and bonded quickly. When my roommate took a semester off, Shelley moved in with me. We loved playing bridge and taking long walks to talk over our relationships with boys and to shake out the tensions of college life. I so admired her intelligence and discipline in her approach to classwork. I had never seen a person be so delighted at the prospect of writing a two-page paper on a Baudelaire poem. And she had a very sharp wit — no one before or since has been better at puns. She became one of my very best friends. (read more…)