You were in my dream last night. You were in my home city, travelling with people I was immediately irked by. You’d given up on living so far away but you weren’t quite ready to come home. I didn’t expect to see you on grounds that are so familiar to me but alien to you. My shock overtook any rules I’d made in my mind about you. I held you so close. I breathed you in. I momentarily remembered the version of me that only exists around you.

I still feel tortured by our final hours together. The words we’d exchanged. My pleading. Your usual wise and warm demeanour replaced with one that was cold and uncaring. And, for the first time, our mutual refusal to back down.

In my fury and disappointment, I’d forgotten that I miss you. I miss you a lot. It’s a deep, low aching that won’t ever subside.

The twinkling lights and whimsical decorations felt almost ironic contrasted with our vitriol. I resented you for returning with only cynicism. I resented you for bringing it to my home. I resented you entirely. I still feel a bitter taste on my tongue when I speak your name.

Still, 11 years isn’t an insubstantial amount of time and while I’m pondering the true extent of my frustrations with you, it’s impossible to ignore who you, and by extension, we, once were.

The first place we shared together was so cold. I could barely keep my bare feet on the floor for more than a few seconds at a time. I spent my life wrapped in whatever I could find to make me even a little warmer. We lived on rice, noodles and potato waffles. Our evenings were made up of incense, poetry and industrial metal. We discussed philosophy, art and our wildly different childhoods. I was so young, only 17 when we started to live together. It’s hard to even fathom now.

7 stories high, we’d sit on our freezing balcony and discuss Plato, Socrates and Simone de Beauvoir. You, a student of philosophy, me, in awe of your seemingly limitless intellect and insight. You taught me pragmatism – something I still haven’t quite mastered but I’m getting there. I don’t know what I taught you but I hope it was empathy. It still felt missing towards the end of our friendship.

It’s surreal to have somebody who loves me tell me I’m not really all that clever and my actions aren’t considered. It’s still bewildering to me that seemingly every bad thought you’ve ever had about me came from me choosing a different operating system to you. What the fuck. When we met, I was weak and I was vulnerable. I’m not anymore. I am strong and I am loved, wholly, for who I am by equally lovable people. I realised in that moment that I didn’t need you. Your particular brand of friendship was jarring, uncomfortable and held up by only nostalgia and solidarity. Repeated themes in my life that I should look at through a more critical lens, all considered.

All this isn’t to say that I hate you. Far from it. As if our friendship wasn’t complex enough, the ending of it has felt like navigating a particularly frustrating labyrinth. I have to ask. though, how much about what I loved about you was actually what I loved about myself, around you. Did you contribute? Did you create? Or were you just a small part of a bigger personal growth?

Did you ever care or did you, at the end if nothing else, just enjoy my admiration? I did adore you. Your resilience, your approach to life, it all opened my eyes to the possibilities that life can bring. Your taste for extremes was somewhat impressive, too. Though dampened by your insistence that I wasn’t making the most of my own time when I refused to join you in chaos. That’s what it came down to, really. I loved you, I liked you and you tolerated me. That’s how it felt anyway.

Somehow missing you for the rest of my life is the less painful option. I love you but I don’t like you so I guess this is goodbye.