Moving on … in life and in the world of friends

I lost my best friend this summer.

No, no, no. It’s not like he died or moved away or something epic. He just kind of… faded to black.

My best friend was Lance. I live two houses down from him in San Jose and have known him for pretty much all of my life. Over the years, I’ve always considered Lance to be the closest friend I had. Lance was a great confidant and buddy.

Last summer, Lance left to go to Colorado State University when I went to USC. Over the year we kept in contact, and when he came back to San Jose, opting to finish his studies at San Jose State University, I could tell that he was a much different person. He had a perennial chip on his shoulder, he smoked and he drank excessively.

My friends tell me that Lance treated me like a little brother because his older brothers used to tease him and screw with him. This type of relationship worked fine when I looked up to Lance, but suddenly seeing my best friend treat me with brotherly disdain didn’t have the same effect it had for the last several years. I didn’t like it.

For the most part, I tolerate the chiding of my peer group because we do it to each other, but I couldn’t take it from Lance, which surprised and angered him. Simple things that would ordinarily result in funny crossfire were being taken personally on both sides. Lance blew up at me way too many times, and for the first time in years, I wasn’t taking it.

The culmination of the summer’s events came during the taping of a film I had written. The first four or five minutes had been completed and I wanted to get the rest done before I returned to USC. Lance was belligerent and told me to my face that my script was a piece of crap without having read it. He then took control of the production and made his own film with my friends. Incensed, I walked out.

Two weeks later, on my birthday, my friends and I went to dinner, and Lance showed up uninvited. Worse, he acted as if nothing was wrong. Normally, if we had a disagreement two weeks apart would be enough to cool me off, but this was different. I could tell that the dynamic of the relationship had changed and I found myself realizing that Lance was someone I wouldn’t hang out with if I had just met him.

Now, after 17 years of friendship, I find myself wondering if things have always been that way and the time apart just made our differences all the more apparent. I reassure myself by saying I have better friends who respect me, but I am still disappointed. These things happen, but I don’t enjoy that fact.

I keep asking myself, “Did I do the right thing?” Only time will tell.