Today is the birthday of what was once my best friend. He hasn’t spoken to me in four years. Never mind the fact that for five years we were inseparable and often pratically living together. His name is Randy Laevens. Happy birthday, Randy. I have absolutely no idea why you decided to ghost me. But I’m sure that if anyone can determine I’m worth someone’s time and affection it must be you. So whatever I did, I probably deserved it. Would be nice to know what exactly it was though. Or it would be nice to know if you’re still alive at least. I miss you, man. I haven’t allowed anyone in my life after you left. Oh, and to be entirely fair, I’m shit, but you did turn into an arrogant asshole too.

I’ve had a few people worthy of the title best friend in my life.

One was named Tom. We met when we were 12, we loved each other. A fact he should get all the credit for, because I’m afraid I’m a shitty person. Anyway, we loved each other until the day he died. He died of cancer when we were 23. I’ve always kinda thought perhaps it should have been me. He was a truly nice guy. Would never harm anyone. Not vain. Modest. Hard-working. Really a gentle soul. Loved life, more than I do. It’s funny how things go.

An other was named John. John Verleysen. Maybe he was my first best friend. The weird or ominious fact is that my first memory of him is a fight between us. I stopped that fight. I don’t remember what it was about. I ended it, but I also may have started the fight. Honestly don’t remember. One of the things that we shared was that we both hated standardized, official Dutch, our mother language. We swore to only speak English or dialect to each other. We were five or six. We stayed best friends until we were eleven or twelve. I’m not sure why we got into a fight. I think I was just too controlling or something. I don’t really know. You were a nicer person than I was, I must say. At least I think so.

Around the same time came Ben. We grew up in houses a mere 100 yards apart. I think it was the most fun friendship of my childhood. We played lots and lots of boardgames together. I usually won, which is probably why we managed to stay friends. Other than that I genuinely liked you. We were both kinda outcasts somehow. And we both loved French fries. Somehow we’ve managed to stay on speaking terms, alhough we contact each other only once every two years or so. Usually around each other’s birthday. Your father and my mum are still very good friends. So there’s still that connection. And your mum always had a kind of sympathy for me, even though I made fun of her and she kicked me out of the house once because I was making jokes about her drinking problem again.

Then there was Ruben. He changed my life for the better. I was deeply depressed when we met. I get like that a lot. He got me out of it, sometimes, a little bit. He made a bit more sociable again. I was a very sociable kid, but in my early teenage years I developed a strange social phobia mostly because I thought I was fucking ugly. He helped me through that. With ups and downs we’ve managed to stay friends. Maybe it’s because he’s so uncontrollable that I’ve never tried to control him. Or maybe it’s because we never felt hooked on each other, not too much anyway. In the case of Randy, hell, I would love it if we could share a mansion for the rest of our lives. But hey, people are free.

In college there was Benjamin. Although we don’t talk anymore and don’t meet up anymore I consider him to be my brother. But you know how things can be between brothers, right? Lots of envy, rivalry, some back-stabbing and competition. So we live 500 yards apart in Bratislava, but we just can’t seem to cooperate on anything anymore. A pity because he took the sociability revolution Ruben started a couple notches further and turned me into the energetic extravert I was as a child. At least until my dad killed himself in 2009, when slowly I came to see life as a prison sentence.

Oh, and there was a girl once, worthy of the title of best friend, but it was more like an intense platonic relationship that got ruined when we had sex and also because we stopped using each other and moved on to parasite on other trees.

So that’s it I suppose, that’s list. I’ve left out some people, but those were around for only two years max, so they don’t carry the same weight.

There’s a vacancy for best friend, but I’m not accepting any cv’s for it. I think I will have to become my own best friend first before I’m capable of any healthy friendship. If it even exists, cause lately I have strong doubts if something like friendship really exists. It seems to be more about using each other. Riding each other like we do with horses, and when the horse drops dead we eat it and move on.

I still love people. I meet wonderful people almost every day. I have some wonderful students. During the lessons I can’t name the feeling I have as anything other than love.

But I don’t let them in. I don’t take things a step further. It’s detached love. I want them to do well, I want them to learn a new language as best and as fast as they can and I help them out on many other levels, sometimes the language aspect is only the background. It’s often more something like therapy.

Maybe this is the point where guys have children. I don’t know any fathers who have real close friends. In the end we are supposed to be swallowed up by children and work in this culture, I suppose. Perhaps that’s really all there is.

Anyway, happy birthday, Randy Laevens. We had some good times.

Choose the people you let into your life as friends very carefully, because at some point they will hurt you more than your worst enemy.