i’ll be there for you, cuz you’re there for me too
high school (anna, john, lauren) – i was drinking the koolaid of various children’s shows and knew the importance of friendship. it would be tested, but it was a bond that could weather anything. we had spent SO MUCH TIME together, we knew each other so well and cared so much about each other that distance wouldn’t mean anything. when i got supremely, supremely pissed at my mom for forcing me to go to taiwan instead of spending the summer with my hs friends, her comeback was “these are your high school friends, you’ll never see them ever again!” or something, to which i responded “IT’S DIFFERENT, WE’LL ALWAYS BE CLOSE!!!!!”
at graduation, i made personalized (laminated!) bookmarks with friendship bracelet tassels with the lyrics of some, ahem, heartfelt song printed on them.
together, forever, no matter how long, from now until the end of time.
college (jim, bristin) – like most kids, college proved to be a formative experience for me. i changed like all my high school friends, and lost contact with them. i still strived to form unwavering bonds with classmates, roommates, RA’s. i liked to describe myself as low maintenance, except when it came to friends. really devoted a lot of time to my friends, i think. ultimately, the takeaway lesson in this sphere of life was that having expectations for friendship only asks to be disappointed, and why setting up situations that will only make you sad.
senior year and the cataclysmic jim’s-graduation debacle happened, where i was under no pretense that we would be having any sort of relationship similar to what we had in college after june 2008. my intense sadness over this fact (and other factors) manifested itself in a variety of extremely regretful ways, including weird feelings of attraction (!?) and generally just being quite belligerent and existential.
after college (jason, angeles, chris) – after an initial settling down period with the new job, the dynamics resembled a double date situation (jason/angeles with james/chris), where we would do things like watch so you think you can dance together. i cared a lot for all of them and them me. is was then that i developed the tier 0 and tier 1 friendship tiers and really enjoyed the fact that we spent every waking moment together.
a year and a half later, chris and i broke up, as did angeles and jason. i left bain, so lost contact with jason as well. we didn’t do the 2v2 hangouts anymore and largely just paired off. dynamics changed. were broken. during a fairly honest conversation with jason, i think we came to the implicit understanding that we would have a platonic breakup to, to quote etan, “avoid the awkward and uncomfortable petering out of the friendship.” jason and i went from being “best friends” to chatting maybe once a month to nothing. part of me recognized the futility of fighting to make the relationship work, and part of me recognized that things were just not fun anymore. which i would argue are two things that i would have been less likely to recognize/be honest about when i was younger.
now (angeles) – at this point, i have gone through enough to know that friendships are in fact quite weak and susceptible to an infinite number of weaknesses. people finding significant others, people breaking up with significant others, new jobs, distance, less time, drifting, changing personalities, a misunderstanding that escalated.
sometimes i look back on my own life and those of other people, and think about how people miss out on so much in life by “anchoring” themselves to a group of friends unconditionally. 1) i think that dynamics can go stale or people end up sacrificing way more than they should if you are only staying together to stay together rather then because you really enjoy spending time together. 2) it’s so easy for the same friend group to become boring, the platonic equivalent of a married couple that does the same thing over and over again. life is too short. i remember this one group of people from college, and i was just so disappointed because none of them pushed them outside of their comfort zones (from an outsiders perspective) because they had this solid group that would always welcome them with open arms.
it was during this phase (when i broke up with chris, separated from jason, and was excised from the bain social circle) that i started entering the phase known as being “aggressively social”, where we would go to clubs and basically random house parties with the intention of meeting as many people as we could and turn strangers into friends. which is actually a lot of fun and comes with the added benefit of helping me be more outgoing and handle myself better in social situations. and i honestly have met so many people who have introduced me to so many things that i would never have been able to experience otherwise. if i never met julia, i would still be that wallflower at school dances and never learned how much i loved dancing. if i never met bristin, i would never have become an RA or let out my personality. if i had never met mark, i would have not gotten into running/exercising. if i had never met christof, i would still think that the castro was a dangerous, foreign place. if you prescribe to the idea that life is a journey of growth and change and adventures, just go say yes to strangers. take the proverbial candy.
there was a fateful tahoe trip where angeles, mark, wendy, and i had an incredible bonding car trip formed from hundreds of emails, various serious docket questions, and several inside jokes, donning the name party cat. when we got back, i kept alluding to the fact that party cat would cease to exist at some point, much to the chagrin of the party cat idealist mark. i would come to enjoy every day that we would have together, but never count on the friendship continuing past that day. would never be disappointed. fast forward half a year, and as fast as party cat was created, it was disassembled. and there are times when it does make me sad that so much goodwill and intimacy evaporated away, but glad that my expectations were also set quite low. i could be so much more bitter right now.
i’m not going to lie, it is so much easier to feel lonely in this world without close friends that you can count on/that you commit to, and i have definitely felt more lonely a lot more now than i used to. but on the other hand, i feel liberated to know that i don’t need close friends to survive, that i can make it on my own without close friends if need be. and i think being at a place where i don’t feel obligated to be friends with people because of the past and friends can drift in and out of my life without me getting too defensive/upset/angry/frustrated/territorial/bitter/all that good stuff is ultimately going to keep me happier in the long run.
in closing. not entirely sure how this entry comes off, but suffice to say that i think that i believe that i am much more likely to reach out to people and put effort in, much more likely to be considerate, and hold friendship to be a much more sacred bond than the average person. i’d like to believe so, anyway. (not to say that I have room for improvement, which i definitely do.)
what this means to me.
- don’t expect friends to last forever, don’t be upset when they leave you (and, conversely, don’t be too guilty when you leave them)
- you shouldn’t force friendships when it doesn’t make sense. that “weathering all obstacles” is not necessarily a badge of honor. this does require regular (if not subconscious) reevaluation of friendships. to some degree, be a little bit selfish. and be brutally honest. (does anyone want to be/have a pity friend?)
- regardless of how close you are to your friends, you should always be trying to make new friends
- dump toxic friends
what this doesn’t mean to me.
- that you can burn bridges and be assholes to people
- that i don’t care deeply for all the people who i have cared for in the past
- that all friendships need to ALWAYS BE FUN. i fully understand what it means to be a good friend and caring for each other
- that i am not open to having “serious” friends aka platonic lovers that i would spend every waking moment with and buy a house together
(hopefully there aren’t too many contradictions above.)
counterpoint. for the record, probably overly cynical. patrick still impressively believes in friendship despite many rough and tumble moments and distance and life changes with his friends. a good response would be that i have basically become the platonic equivalent of a “playboy” and that platonic love is so much more satisfying than platonic one night stands. and that i have trust issues and i can count on friends.