When I was a girl (that sounds so weird, but I AM 35) I read a book. It might have been called Best Friends. It was unfortunately weeded from my collection at one point. (Darn the transient life of a diplomat's daughter--my mother paid me 50 cents for every trash can filled.) The story went something like this: the two girls were close and then the one girl moved and gained new friendships. The left behind girl (it was in the same town, so they still went to the same school, I think) couldn't understand. The girl who moved said, "I don't have best friends anymore, I like having more than one friend." Eventually the left behind girl understood, gained new friends of her own, and they all lived happily ever after. I miss that book.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about friends lately. Well, and there's been a lot to think about.
Do I cling? Do I cause folks to run for the hills? (Probably--hyper-loneliness does that.)
Do others cling? Do I run for the hills from them? (Oh yes!) (Did I mention I'm an introvert?)
What of relatives--how do you keep the relationships going in between the weddings and funerals? (Not an easy one.)
What place does money come in? If you have parties where people can buy things, does that scare them from accepting the invitation? Or do the people who come buy out of guilt? Or, do they happily buy because they needed what your party offered and they didn't have another venue for such purchases? (It's a mixed bag.)
How do you build a relationship with Ms. 2nd floor? One safety pin at a time, it seems. She called and didn't leave a message (Thank you, Caller ID) and when she called to return my call, it was to see if I had safety pins. Which I did.
I am not the perfect friend. I am an enigma. I have been hurt from the day that I realized Sheila stole things from me in first grade. A necklace, a bouncy ball. I have been the victim more often than the aggressor, but I have been known to ignore someone until they gave up trying. I also have been known to think that I have ruined something just because someone took three days to answer an email. I HATE conflict. I hate thinking I've been ignored or abandoned. I can be very high maintenance in this department. (See above, running for the hills...)
The trick, (if there is one) is to find the healthy friends. The people you like spending time with. Because you read the same books, or go to the same church. Because you both share a love for cows. The people who make you care, make you laugh. The people who live in your neighborhood. Whatever. But what you want is someone who will give and take. Granted, they sometimes will take more than their share, and you may find yourself giving way too much. (Ding! Ding!) My mother would say "It's like chips and dip: they don't always even out."
But I find the Camus quote on my bathroom wall a good ruler: Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me and be my friend.
We all need space, every once and a while. It is up to us (the spaced out or the left out) to figure out when to build a bridge. It may be never. Some friendships are only for a season. But some, a precious few, are worth fighting for. Even those will be enigmas--how do you FIGHT for a friendship? So often the other party JUST WANTS TO BE LEFT ALONE. And there's no bridge that will cross that chasm. So you wait.
Waiting, though it seems passive, is really a very good way to fight. It requires patience and a lot of introspection. You might find in the waiting that you don't want to wait anymore. That's okay too.
How goes that saying? "If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it is yours. If it doesn't, it never was yours to begin with." Well, I don't believe that stock lock and barrel. Because I believe we have seasons. I have wonderful memories of friendships that only lasted a season. Just because that season has passed, I don't need to think we never were friends. But, the letting go is difficult, and if that loved one DOES return, there is hope for renewal.
Sometimes renewal means wrecking what was there before and building an entirely new relationship. That's okay too.
I realize I'm rambling and mixing my metaphors and if someone was paying me to write this, I'd go through a few more drafts.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm trying to be healthy. I'm trying to reach out and give space. I'm trying to figure out who are the people that make me laugh and cry for the right reasons. And I'm trying to figure out who I should just call up and say, "Do you want to have a cup of tea?" (Or a beer, or a walk...)
Because a lot of people are getting pregnant, or getting married, or moving out of state. And having babies. And life goes on. If I wait for the "perfect time" to ask someone to be my friend, my chance may be gone. And my chance might already be gone--some people don't want to be friends. They may have too much going on in their lives. They may want to just be alone. They may be moving and know they won't be good at keeping in touch. There may be people who only want to be friends once in a blue moon for breakfast at McDonalds. There may be friends who dream dreams and then their life changes and they move on and you feel lost, holding half the dream.
I'm learning to let go. I'm also learning how to hold on.
There are people out of my reach. And there are people I don't know HOW to reach. But I'd be a fool to not keep on trying to figure out who are the people I can reach and then try to reach out to them. I'm not perfect, but I make really good quiche.
(There, doesn't that sound like a commencement speech or something in an inspirational book about "How to be friendly"?) It's really just me, trying to sort out my brain. All this writing has made me HUNGRY.
3 hours ago