Last night someone asked me how you were doing. And while I didn’t know who he was or why he was calling so late, I told him I hadn’t talked to any of you in a while. I guess that’s what happens when your friends walk out of your life and into a nearby waterpark.
Watching you all walk away was like dropping off the crest of a steep waterslide; my stomach sank and for a moment I couldn’t catch my breath. At least, this is what I imagine dropping off the crest of a steep waterslide feels like. I wouldn’t know for sure. The only aquatic ride I’ve ever experienced is a tear-soaked emotional roller coaster known as life. I do not count the state-of-the-art Slip ‘n Slide I regularly unfurl in my foyer because that is strictly for business use.
You rattled off every excuse in the book:
“Elliot, you can come with us as soon as you put on a bathing suit.”
“Elliot, you have to keep your bathing suit on for the duration of our stay at the water park.”
“Elliot, they’re going to have to remove you from the water park. Despite our explicit instructions, you removed your bathing suit immediately upon entering the log flume.”
You don’t need prescription goggles to see through empty platitudes, although thankfully I did have my prescription goggles on hand since I like to open my eyes underwater.
I suppose that in the great lazy river of friendship, our tubes were always destined to float apart. And while you thought I was coasting into oblivion, I was actually drifting towards other park guests (symbolizing the breadth of humanity beyond my immediate social circle) who taught me more about love and life and the confluence of the two than you could ever conceive. And we were all being pulled mercilessly along by an artificial current (the construct of time) when suddenly the lifeguard (God) blew his final whistle (death) indicating that we needed to exit the river (the temporal world) and enter the splash zone (the noumenal realm) where we would be reborn in the uterine embrace of warm sprinklers (sprinklers) erupting with chlorinated water (the promise of new life). But what would I know; I’ve never experienced the leisurely tug of a lazy river.
After nineteen years, I’ve finally realized that friendship isn’t just about mutual understanding and honest communication and compatible interests and unconditional love. Friendship is about water parks. That’s something we all lost sight of, except for me.
I don’t go to Splish Splash much anymore. I’m worried the chlorine will sting the open wound you all left when you ripped my heart out. And I am no longer welcome because of the log flume incident. But in case you’re wondering, I’m not mad anymore, and I’m not even sad. I’m just angry, and depressed, and most importantly, dry.
I hope one day you’re in a wave pool when someone asks you how I’m doing. You’ll think about it for a second before realizing that you don’t know and haven’t known for a while. And you’ll miss me. A lot. A wave will crest and crash against your chest, but it won’t matter because you’ll have already gotten the wind knocked out of you.
— E. Connors