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PIQUE'N YER INTEREST To all the friends I’ve loved before (and still do)

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Keeping in touch with far-away friends can feel incredibly taxing in our current pandemic reality, but putting in the effort in these isolating times is more than worth your while. Pictured is author Brandon Barrett, far right, with friends on the last day of high school, circa 2004.

There’s a quote in Noah Baumbach’s 1995 debut film Kicking and Screaming that has stuck with me since I first heard it. 

The movie follows a group of upper middle class college friends as they linger on campus months after graduation, clinging desperately to their youth and terrified of taking even the most miniscule step towards adulthood. In an early scene, one particularly stagnant character laments his penchant for sentimentality.  

“I’m too nostalgic. I’ll admit it,” Max says. 

“We graduated four months ago. What can you possibly be nostalgic for?” his friend asks. 

“I’m nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday,” Max responds. “I’ve begun reminiscing events before they even occur. I’m reminiscing this right now.” 

After my initial chuckle at what is a pretty decent line, a lightning bolt of recognition hit me with a wallop: Shit, I’m that guy. 

I immediately thought back to my middle school grad party. Sitting there on the curb rocking my nuclear orange Modrobes and my extra-frosty frosted tips (stop laughing), I remember getting emotional at the realization that our friendships were likely never going to be the same as they were in that exact moment. Even at the tender age of 13, the prospect of high school looming over me, I had a strong sense that the ground was shifting beneath my feet, that everything was about to change. 

“Wait, is Brandon friggin’ crying?” one of my cooler peers shouted, as I bowed my over-gelled head in shame. 

Nostalgia may not serve you well in Grade 8, but as I’ve grown older, it’s a quality I’ve tried to harness. Whether I was living overseas or on the other side of the country, I prided myself on being the glue that helped bring my high school and university friends together on the rare occasions I made it back to Ontario. My friends like to joke that the only time we ever get together en masse is when one of us has a baby or I come home to visit.  

Maybe it’s the only-child complex in me, but I have always tried to put in the work required to keep up the friendships I value. And it is work. Sometimes tough work, and in the midst of a global pandemic, that relationship maintenance feels tougher than it ever has. 

With all the time we’re spending at home, and our newfound proficiency on Zoom, you’d think staying in touch would be easy. But these days, I could get a call from Rihanna herself and it would take considerable effort to work up the nerve to pick up. (RiRi, if you’re reading this, I’m totally kidding.) 

The pandemic has had a way of making even the tiniest task feel like an ultra marathon, but I think it’s especially difficult to keep in contact because, well, what do we even have to say? For most of us, COVID-19 has transformed life into a spinning hamster wheel, and the usual attempts at small talk fall flat, and worse, feel disingenuous. After all, “how was your day?” is tough to answer when time has lost all meaning and the hours blend together like one of Dali’s melting clocks. 

But if there’s anything worth the effort, it’s the people we hold near—even from afar. That’s something that I think Whistlerites can relate to, being that most of us so-called “orphans” have chosen to put miles between us and our loved ones to pursue a different kind of passion. And the best part is, reaching out is one of those rare mutually beneficial acts, recharging your battery just as much as your far-flung friends’. 

So, with that, here’s to all the friends I’ve loved before, and still do. I may not have been as diligent about keeping in touch as I used to, but know that my sense of nostalgia remains strong, and I’m thinking about you. Just don’t make fun of me if I get a little teary-eyed.