On Friendship and Immigration by Golnoosh Nour
ON FRIENDS AND IMMIGRATION
For M. For our queer times, tears, and celebrations whose memories nothing can kill.
Prologue: My Best Friend Is a Prophet.
Your friendship is oxygen. It is food. It is an open sky. It is the sun. A magnanimous rainbow. An intoxicating garden of rare roses that never seems to wither. An ocean of music that never seems to stop playing.
Problem: Immigration Ate My Friend.
Amongst many other things, there was also a friendship you had to leave behind to become an immigrant. And neither of you ever recovered.
That one friend whom most of your other friends didn’t even get, whom most of your friends will never get, whom your siblings resented, whom your lovers called bitter, that one friend, your best friend. That one friendship that you sacrificed to migration.
There comes a moment when you realise all your other friendships in your new country were meant to recreate the friendship you already had, and some of them almost got there but not really, something was always lacking. Even though different friends serve different purposes, and one can surround oneself with as many friends as possible, to use the painful English proverb: the more the merrier!
But you did not want anything functional even, not ever having a purpose, you were just seeking that one dysfunctional friend, the one you left behind, the one who didn’t have it in them to migrate like everybody else, the one who stayed behind, proud and cracked, a soldier never returning from the battle.
Like first love, you have to accept that it will not happen again with anyone, even with better people, even if you have become a better person, a harder person, a more “successful” person, because that friendship wasn’t about better or worse, it was beyond good and evil.
That friendship was it. Your best friend was a prophet. You worshipped each other.
With your best friend, you only had to exchange a glance to know what the other one was thinking and burst into laughter not because there was anything funny but because you two were happy. You went to parties to feast on your friendship. Together, you were the party, you defined the party. You were it and everyone knew it. And you were so certain of your eternity you didn’t think anything - even borders - could wound the friendship.
Solution: Advice for the Disoriented Immigrant
Stop ranting at your new friends about your best friend in your homeland, they won’t get it.
Every time you speak about your best friend, they look at you as if you were describing a non-existent flavour, and let’s face it they get bored – if not annoyed.
Stop trying to recreate that friendship with other friends. Stop making new friends so you could tell them about your best friend. Be honest with yourself; you don’t want friends, only voyeurs, admirers of your past friendship, but nobody cares about your absurd religion.
Talk to yourself instead 24/7. Embrace the guilt, the regret, the tedious hell. Drag your disappointment from one failed friendship to the next fake friendship. From one forced conversation to the next artificial smile. To the next charming wink that is in fact an epitome of your emotional paralysis, a disability.
Leave your friends’ parties. Who are these people anyway?
Well done on looking like you have survived your migration. That you have even made it!
On the other side of the planet, laughing, looking tanned instead of brown, surrounded by foreign friends, interested faces who all look the same, what is this game?
This is not a party; it is self-harm.
You cannot listen to anybody here. To your new friends. You want your best friend who is not here, who will never be here. It’s been seven years; soon it will be ten, and you’ll both have more wrinkles and wonder why the friendship could never stop or be replaced or explained.
Faking interest in new friends makes you feel dead, makes you smell like death. Makes you smell like them, taking you further away from your best friend. You don’t want to smell and speak like these people. What would your best friend say? Why are you here? This is masochism and not even in a sexy way.
Leave your friends. Are they even your friends? What is a friend? Why did it only happen to you that one time? Why was it like an earthquake that you couldn’t get enough of? That you will never get enough of.
You are still shaking. Look at you, pathetic! A crooked plastic fan in summer heat.
You will always vibrate. Stop feigning strength.
Shatter your other friendships, leave.
Isolate your body and repeat to yourself
Dr Golnoosh Nour is the author of Sorrows of the Sun (2017) and The Ministry of Guidance (2020).