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Updated: Sep 15, 2022

Yellow ambiance and reddish-brown bricks, all drenched in a gentle smell of coffee, the shop was serving its afternoon customers. They told me they wanted a bricky vintage kind of look. Everything was great about that day. The sky looked blue. The weather was mild. 929 looked iconic.

She told me she could come see me before joining her crew. I did not know where it was going. I did not know if it was a beginning or an end. When she last saw me in the spring, she and Anna Grace tried to convert me. You can't be someone's friend until you give up trying to change them. It implies that you have already rejected them. But I was open to anything.

My entire time in college, I had longed for a friendship that occurred not because someone thought I was like him or because we agreed on a few things but because we told each other the truth. I had friends. But would they have been my friends if we differed on religious and political matters? Did they have to give up anything to be my friend? Were they friends with me or with their own values? How is a friendship based on agreements real at all? Friendship is premised on overcoming differences, not on consolidating commonalities. What sacrifice, reconsideration of values, and moral development happen in the latter? None, when precisely that which you give up adds meaning to a friendship. If you have not given up anything to get something, what affect does it hold?

Friendship is a let-go-of experience. It is not carrying the burden of your values but letting yourself fall off a cliff, weightless, with no intent to look back because you know the fall is perpetual, endless, forever. It isn't holding your breath but breathing out. It isn't holding on to but letting go of. It is forgetting yourself.

You will always have this friendship regardless of whom you vote for and what you believe in. You have faith that you can't be let down, because there were no conditions to begin with. You are free to be silly, to laugh at yourself. This is what absolute acceptance means. This is what absolute freedom is.

You forget your failures and regrets. The sense of self fades. This friendship is like sleep. You find out you were asleep only when you wake up. This is why my friendship with her was so nurturing. There were no games to be played, no traditions to be kept. I found out that I could not offend her, which is a mark of true friendship. She was friends with me in sickness and in poverty.

When a friendship is premised on similar values, you are subtly aware that these friends may leave the moment their values no longer match yours. These relationships are not even friendships but agreements. They dissolve when there is a disagreement. It is a form of bondage. A friendship that occurs out of empathy and mutual appreciation has freedom in it. These friends will always be with you no matter what values you keep or abandon. There is meaning in it because they have kept contradictory values aside to be your friend. There is faith in it. They have cut off a part of themselves to be your friend. They have grown above themselves.

About 4 months later, I wondered if I should be grateful that this experience happened or sad that I had run out of time. I still do not know if it was a beginning or an end. I was notorious for debating Christian apologists, preachers, and teachers. She was a devoted southern Christian. Her name was Falyn.

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