I can feel whatever strange ties have been holding our friendship together being tugged apart. From my perspective it looks like this is happening because I want to challenge and you don’t. I don’t know how it looks from yours. Maybe you think, as you’ve said before, that I have too many opinions and I think no one else is allowed to have one. I maintain that you are wrong.
You might as well have told me I was defensive. You might as well have screamed at me, “You’re so reactionary!” and watch me struggle against reacting to avoid proving you right.
It is my opinion that this is a terrible way to argue. It’s your opinion that we shouldn’t argue at all.
I should start earlier. I should start with why we became friends instead of why we shouldn’t be.
Dear Miss Elisabeth, you are so much my opposite that of course we were going to be friends. You are almost incapable of seeing the downside of things. You are all levity and laissez-faire and fuck-it-let’s-go-get-ice-cream-instead. You want to laugh and smile and talk loudly about a thousand things that don’t matter all day every day, and you are impossible to ground. You taught me how to let things go and which radio station was worth enduring the commercials for. You reminded me that happiness is worth sharing and sadness requires sharing when it’s too heavy for one person.
But christ, woman. Lately, if people were deep like bodies of water you would be a sneeze.
At what point is it no longer reasonable to keep brushing things under the rug to preserve a friendship? How long do I have to pretend that other people’s political convictions and overall outlooks on life matter less than their willingness to lend me a pencil or tell a decent joke? How old do I have to get before I don’t need to trade interesting conversations for peace? How long before I don’t have to stop calling people on their fallacies and assumptions just so I don’t have to eat lunch by myself?
When do I get to make friends who are secure enough in their own opinions that they can stand up to criticism and won’t think I’m attacking them? When can we stop talking about your goddamn hair?
I have always argued the most with the people I loved the best. The people I didn’t care for so much were the ones with nothing of value to say. I don’t think it’s a sign of weakened friendships or weakened relationships that we have ideological differences or that we discuss them. I think it’s an inability to risk disagreeing that shows cracks in the mortars. If you respect me as a person, surely you can respect my opinions enough to hear them. If we’re friends, surely we can talk politics at the dinner table.
I don’t want to waste my time knowing you if you don’t want to know me. I don’t want to waste my breath if you don’t want to listen. I don’t want your friendship if it’s so cheap and fragile it can’t hold up to the most basic strains of conversation.
But I can’t claim I won’t be sad if you choose silence over staying friends, because I know you’ve got brains even though nobody tries to make you use them. Talk to me, Miss Elisabeth, and we can be ever-expanding. Let me fill your head with radical egalitarian feminist mantras and you can tell me where you came from and where you think you’re going and we will know each other. I don’t want you to back away. I want to hear you.