The Prince and the Fox

I’ve recently had two friends say to me, straight up in the middle of our conversations, “So I was reading your blog the other day/before I came to see you…”  

My response, both times, very eloquently, was: “…what?”

I know, when I post this online and share it on social media, people will see it, but I don’t have the expectation that anyone will actually read it. It’s flattering when you do, but I’m not going to hold you accountable for that because I know, you know, we all know — not all of us actually process everything we see on social media before we hit the “Like” button.

That’s not necessarily something I do, but that also doesn’t mean I’m pointing fingers at anyone who does.

Au contraire. 

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Photo Courtesy of Gilles Lambert | Crew

Alongside reading my blog, one of these aforementioned friends also decided it would be amusing, enlightening, and interesting (and a sorry way to waste time, in my opinion) to also pull up my Tumblr…which is, admittedly, easily found. Note my previous point: I don’t generally expect people to be reading or trolling these places.

At any rate, aside from providing me a healthy dose of mortification by reading one of my 3-year-old blog posts out loud to me, said friend did also pique my curiosity about what traces my former self had left on Tumblr.

To keep you all from traipsing through my Tumblr yourselves, here are the main takeaways: I’ve not changed much over the past six years. I am a little less hopelessly romantic, but I’m still just as hopeful, and I’m still dwelling on the same subjects that I always have: People, friendship, love, and relationships of all natures.

Perhaps my most striking realization was this: Even though time has inevitably made me older, postgrad-me still faces many of the same struggles as did high school-me and college-me.

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Photo Courtey of Greg Rakozy | Crew

Friends make the postgrad transition easier, but they, in and of themselves, also make the transition harder as well.

People are hard. It doesn’t matter if it’s one person, or two people, or twelve people. Communication is hard — especially when you’re needing to rely on digital mediums more than in-person interactions because of distance and schedules.  

I’ve mentioned this before (i.e. this year’s Valentine’s post). I’m not very good at keeping friends over the years. And now that I’m in a space where seeing people has become harder, the question of friendship has become a day-in and day-out struggle.

When I disclosed these fears to a close friend of mine, someone who I’ve talked to quite intimately about this in many 2 or 3 am conversations, she gave me her very candid take on the situation based on her personal experiences. She’d just gotten used to people leaving her life. And sometimes she would know if someone would stick around, but otherwise, she just learned to not expect it.

I get that. I do. I’ve chosen to step out of people’s lives as well, and though it’s not been often, I’ve sometimes done it before they chose to step out of mine. I don’t expect people to come back.

But that doesn’t mean if they’re the 51st person to walk away from me, it’s going to hurt any less than if they were the first.

Some people harden themselves to these experiences. Others just aren’t so bothered. And then there are those who never learn.

One of the people who has since walked out of my life, and whose life I have similarly chosen to leave, asked me once, at a time when we were closest: “Why do you always get your hopes up again?”

My response, very typically: “I don’t know. I just…do. It makes me happier, overall, to be more hopeful than to be negative, even if things do often turn out poorly. I can’t begin to explain this.”

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Photo Courtesy of Azrul Aziz | Crew

My postgrad friendship experiences thus far can be summed up with a (paraphrased) excerpt from The Little Prince:

When the prince visits Earth from his distant planet, he encounters a wild fox. The fox is intrigued by the prince and asks the prince to tame him. The prince, having been the sole inhabitant of his plane (aside from his rose), doesn’t understand what it means to tame. “To establish ties,” the fox explains. It means that the color of the wheat fields and the sound of the prince’s footsteps will mean something more. And so the prince agrees, and the fox teaches the prince how to tame him. It takes time and patience for both, but soon enough, the prince has tamed the fox — and the fox has also tamed the prince.

After several days, the prince realizes he can no longer stay. He has so much of the Earth left to explore. He tells the fox one morning that he must go. The fox begins to cry. The prince doesn’t understand. The fox wanted to be tamed, asked to be tamed — why did he ask for such things if he knew it would do “no good” at all? But the fox corrects the prince and says that is has done him good, “because of the color of the wheat fields.”

Before the prince leaves, the fox lets him in on three secrets. This is the third: “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”

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Photo Courtesy of Death to the Stock

In the story, the prince does leave the fox — just as people often leave each other.

But there are two elements of this story that resonate with me more than does their parting. Their relationship, the mutual taming is intentional and it’s intimate.

It’s funny — as English majors, we’ve always been told not to argue about an author’s intentions, but here I am realizing that maybe now, it is about the intention.

Intent is not a word I’m used to throwing around. In fact, it’s not actually “my” word; a friend mentioned it, in passing, in the context of a different conversation that carried a similar weight and tone, and somehow, out of all the words that were said between us that day, intentional stuck.

And just as the prince and the fox were intentional in establishing their ties, they were also willing to be intimate.

Between people, I know intimacy generally evokes the tranquility of the space between lovers. But if we return to the dictionary and find the actual definition, intimacy also refers to proximity, closeness, and the color of the wheat fields.

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Photo by Courtney Cheng

I’ve taken a lot of time and space in the past month and a half to talk about this with many people.

It’s been mentioned over bowls of ramen during an early dinner, at afternoon tea with a scone, on almost-dates that began late and ended later, after drinks and bougie popcorn, and even while avoiding lunch.

The prevalence of this subject in my conversations (or rather, my long-standing obsession fascination with this topic) has helped me realize —

Talking about and worrying over the nebulousness of friendships and interactions don’t always help, but having the courage to open up about intimate topics does help someone tame you, and you tame them.

It will always be my hope that the princes never leave, because having the color of the wheat fields means so much, but if that day comes, this fox does hope that they both — the fox and all of these princes — will be remember to be responsible for what they have tamed.  

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