One of my favorite books of all times, is the Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas. I used to read it all the time, when I was a kid. My granddad had a leather bound version of it, written on frail parchment paper and I would go over this book tenderly and carefully, like it was made of… well, parchment.
Then I found the two movies directed by Richard Lester, which is to date, the best versions of the books, turned into movies. I watched them so much, my old video tape lost all colour and most of the sound. It didn’t matter to me, I knew what was happening and every word they were saying.
When I grew older, I read the other books in the series as well, and one of the things that always bugged me about them, was how the four friends, Athos, Porthos, Aramis and d’Artagnan, grew apart. How they even ended up fighting against each other, some of them. To me, and my naive mind, it felt impossible that friends like these ones, could grow apart.
I always found myself relating most strongly to Athos. The girl with the past that shouldn’t catch up with her, with the secret identity, who couldn’t even trust her friends to know her real name. The girl who tore her family apart, for loving the wrong person. Even when I was a kid, I knew that Athos was my kind of guy.
Once upon a time, I did have three friends and I did use to refer to us as the four musketeers. I never really thought how accurate it may have been, until now.
We spent hours at the stable together, in the freezing hours of winter, or under the burning summer sun, always helping each other out, when need be. We never backed out, we always showed up, no matter how uninspiring or dangerous the work that needed to be done, may have been. We relied on each other, not just as friends, but as partners and support system, as well.
All three of them found me, to begin with. I was never one to go looking for friends, as I was ever the girl with the secrets and the life I didn’t want to include anyone in. Still, they hung on to me, for some strange reason.
The youngest one, our d’Artagnan, was introduced to the group by me, since she was always my friend, much more than she was the others. As she was the first to enter our group, she was the first to leave as well.
Much like d’Artagnan, she got promoted, moved up in the world, and never looked back on the friends she used to have. We could have followed her, most of us, but much like in the books, we chose not to.
D’Artagnan always wanted to be a musketeer, and as such, he was the one to be promoted. He died, having won the war, taking the last bullet fired at the front line, just as the enemy surrendered.
Athos, Porthos and Aramis, never wanted to be musketeers.
Athos was a musketeer, because it was a perfect hiding place, if you wanted to keep your head down and still fight for what you believed in. In time though, he retired completely and focused on his family. (Committing suicide when he lost his son, in the end.)
Porthos was a musketeer because he wanted to look good. He liked the uniform, the expensive clothes, and he loved how people looked up to him, when he was all dressed up. He remained a musketeer, until the day he died, stuck in a battle he never quite understood.
Aramis, it turned out, was the most ambitious of them all, aiming for becoming a spiritual leader. He left the musketeers and became a priest, then a bishop and later on, he even aimed for becoming the pope… (Killing himself by overdosing on opium, while trying to kill Porthos’ son.)
I guess that of the three of them, I did not anticipate Aramis. Now I wonder, with my friends, how easily I draw similarities to us. Our d’Artagnan works at a professional stable now. Our Aramis and our Athos, never wanted that, and as such, we let her go. Our Porthos may have wanted that, but no matter how much she tried, she just didn’t have what it took, despite her expensive equipment.
Our Porthos and I had a serious falling out about a year ago, and we haven’t spoken since, except when we have met at social events where we have had no choice but to smile and be nice to each other.
Much like in the books, Porthos still sticks to Aramis like glue. I see her these days, stuck between the world of d’Artagnan, the world she wanted to join but couldn’t, and the much more spiritual world of Aramis. The spiritual world she never had any interest in, but she is trying to fit into now, to please her friend. One can only hope that she finds peace within herself one day, and stops aiming to impress others.
I still miss d’Artagnan, once in a while. I still dream of her some nights, (yeah, I dream of people,) and I wake up wondering what would happen if I texted her. I could ask her how she was doing. She would answer. She would even ask me in return, how my life was shaping up. We are not, not friends. We just walked our separate ways. I could tell her of my life, but she would not care to know the answer, and that is why I am not texting her.
I have to admit that excluding Porthos from my life has been a bit of a relief. No more negativity, no more dealing with her self esteem issues and her constant need to be better than others, her friends included.
Even if I never thought that our little group would break up, once upon a time, then here we are. I guess that I owe Alexander Dumas a bit of an apology. It is very rare friends, that you stick with forever, and you don’t always know which ones it is going to be, until one day you realize who it wasn’t.
As for Aramis, she is stuck in the middle, between Porthos and me. I have not spoken to her once, about why Porthos and I broke up our friendship, (or to anyone else for that matter,) because I never want to make her choose or take sides. It should be possible for her, to remain friends with both of us.
I do feel that I am losing her a little these days, though. Like she is sliding through my fingers, perhaps influenced by Porthos, whom I am sure, does not speak too well of me. I realize that Porthos is the injured part in this break up and as such, I guess it is harder to remain graceful.
I know too, that Aramis has a lot of things going on in her life at the moment, which is why I am not asking for her attention most of the time, and perhaps, she feels the same way. Perhaps, the reason why I feel that we are sliding apart, is simply because life is getting between us.
As much as this could sound like it is a sad post, it really isn’t. I always loved these books, and now, having grown up and lived through strong friendships falling apart (or lasting,) for various reasons, I love the books even more as they taught me a life lesson, long before I was ready to understand it or accept it.
And yeah, I will end up alone with my kids (horses) one day. I won’t commit suicide though. I am not all Athos, just like my friends are, of course, not all Porthos, Aramis and d’Artagnan. But if there is an upside to losing ones friends, I guess it has to be living out your favourite childhood story and my imagination can put a positive spin on anything, if I want it to.