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Preventing transient friendships

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In a personal essay, CHALK writer Sam Kricsfeld talks about the friendships he's loved and lost throughout the years, and how he's determined to not lose any more. 

A friend and I lost contact after childhood, and the next thing I knew, the guy was an actual rock star. We remained friends on Facebook, and one day I saw the promotional pictures of his newly formed band. The photos show him in a sparkly silver jumpsuit with long, curly hair and an electric guitar. He even has a Spotify page. 

It has been nearly a decade since I last spoke to him. Ten years ago, he was in a conservative, religious family and was dead-set on becoming a world-renowned neurosurgeon. Now, he dances around a stage loudly playing the guitar in a glittery jumpsuit. 

All I have left of our friendship are generic childhood memories - foursquare in the gym, prank calling people and sleepovers. I remember comparing our MP3 players. I remember crying in his family’s living room when I crashed a Corvette playing Forza on the Xbox. The only hint I had of his eventual success in music was watching him awkwardly play the riff from “Day Tripper” on an acoustic guitar that was as big as his torso.

There was no definitive “We’re done. This is over” moment. The friendship had a fadeout, like a song that an artist didn’t know how to conclude. Our song lasted seven formative years, and eventually faded like the last “Na na na nananana, nannana” at the end of “Hey Jude.”

Mr. Rock Star and I have likely drifted so far apart that I don’t think we would recognize each other’s personalities. It would be like meeting a new person. The timid children who met each other in kindergarten have vanished and been replaced by an anxious journalism student in Kansas and a freewheeling glam rock musician at Berklee. We succeeded in different ways – his success just includes more glitter than mine.

Mr. Rock Star is not the only person who slowly fell out of my life. There’s also the guy whose hair I admired so much that I grew mine like his. There was the freckled redhead who invited me over to his lunch table in middle school. Then, there was the girl who invited me to join her friend group for prom, after I made up my mind to not go. I had weird phases that brought along equally weird friends – my cringey "Doctor Who" phase saw me hosting watch parties in my living room. Pictures from that era show a bunch of angsty, nerdy teenagers I hardly recognize. Those times are long gone, and the friends who accompanied me throughout them are too. Maybe it’s the nature of growing up that many of our friendships are for a season, and not for a lifetime. 

My roommates from last year have already graduated and moved hundreds of miles away. Those roommates and I had a difficult adjustment period when we were unceremoniously separated at the start of the pandemic. We tried regularly scheduled Zooms, but the structure felt weird and inorganic. We have since kept in contact over text, and we do Zoom when we feel the spontaneous urge to see each other. Although random Zooms can never take the place of in-person contact, it’s keeping our friendships alive and strong, and I hope to use the skills I’ve learned as a template to keep my other ones thriving.  

I don’t want to keep outgrowing friends. But with graduation looming, our lives are bound to spread apart. I will no longer be in the same classes, same town or possibly even the same state as my friends as we move on with our lives. We will still have the memories of struggling through our journalism classes, gossiping about our professors’ personal lives and staying up late writing articles upon articles. It’s just that the new memories will be fewer and farther in between. I anticipate watching from a distance as more of my friends get married, have children, get promoted and just live their lives. I anticipate that I’ll do those things too. I just really wish I didn’t have to do it without them. 

I have experienced enough transient friends. I don’t want to not know about what became of my friend who was a professional violinist, or my friends who helped me make a scene-for-scene copy of a part of "Wayne’s World" for a school project.  I do not want another moment like when I found Mr. Rock Star on Facebook. If any of my current friends become embodiments of glam rock, I want to know about it as it’s happening, not years later.

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Person 2: We can do the chicken wrap with no cheese?

Person 1: I’ll take the Beyond Burger please. 

Person 1: Oh my God! I feel like I know you somehow…

Person 2: Yeah, we went to high school together. 

Person 1: Oh! *walks off*

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Guy 2: I tried once but I couldn’t figure out how to get on.

Guy 1: I stayed up until 2 am watching Disney plus

Guy 2: I told my girlfriend I fell asleep but I was actually watching the Mandalorian.

Girl 1: How long have you guys been dating?

Girl 2: Since the summer, well actually for like two years but it’s a long story.

Girl 1: Who are you looking for?

Girl 2: This guy, wait I found him. Fanny pack boy. He flipped off my professor after a test and ran out of the classroom.

Girl 1: How did you choose KU? 

Girl 2: Honestly, I flipped a coin. 

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Boy 2: Woah, hold up. You think?

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Boy 2: Please don’t ever say that again.

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Girl 2: I don’t ever wear a bra? I don’t know. 

Girl 1: I just really want a guy to bend me over you know?

Girl 2: How do you know? You’re a virgin!

Guy: Sometimes I wish I could just be a dog and sleep all day. 

Girl: You wake up at like three every day. 

Guy: I know.

Girl: So…

Guy: So does that make me a dog or something?

Girl 1: I wish I was a little bit taller.

Girl 2: I wish I was balder.

Girl 1: I wish I had a...wait, wait, wait balder?

Guy 1: Let’s slap dicks

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Woman 1: *holding baby* He would have been safer at the Hawk

Woman 2: Oh absolutely.

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Girl 2: Well, it depends how much money he has.

Girl 1: I’m going to the doctor to see if I have bronchitis before I hook up with him again.

Girl 2: Yeah that’s smart so you don’t give it to anyone else. 

Girl 1: No I mean I want to make sure I infect him.

Guy 1: I'm cutting some of my unnecessary costs, starting with Juuling.

Guy 2: Ight man, good luck.

Guy 1: Actually I might just start chewing

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Guy 2: My manager was chastising me for not dressing up in a Halloween costume, she doesn’t understand I’m strictly here to get paid.

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Girl 2: You eat bacon all the time, bitch.

Guy 1: You better get going. 

Guy 2: Yeah, see ya. I’m off to get some Adderall.

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Girl 2: Yeah, why?

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Guy 2: Dude, you shaved half your head. That’s not a haircut, that’s a mess.

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Girl 2: How else are you supposed to eat it?

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Guy: Maybe she's dead.

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Guy: Wow, you're so good with analogies.