Friday, May 22, 2009

Lasting Impressions 16

(Today's Lasting Impressions post comes from a fairly new addition to my Google Reader, Je of Thats What Je Said.)

I have been very lucky to have led a life, so far, surrounded by close friends.

I grew up with neighborhood friends who I’d play Hide n’ Go Seek with and camp out in tents in our front yards. My very best girl friend lived three houses down from me, and we were inseparable from 3rd grade until junior high and things like “being cool” got in the way. We would play Bubble Bobble and Doctor Mario for hours at her house every day after school – and in the younger years, we would have tea parties in her back yard, making tea out of all the flowers and an eucalyptus plant her mom had in the garden. I can only imagine how much her mom loved that. We’d save our money to walk down to the store to buy a large jawbreaker and Pogs. Remember those things? I still have an entire book Pogs somewhere. Whoever said Pogs and Beanie Babies were going to worth a ton of money someday should be shot.

Anywho, I also have three very best friends from junior high who still loved me when I wore my hair pulled back in a bun at the nape of my neck – for three years solid – because I hated my curly hair. We discussed boys, dieting (groan) and the mean girls who sucked. They were there when I got caught for shoplifting (popular with all the kiddies in 8th grade) and when I drank for the first time – nine shots of tequila in one hour cause “I don’t feeeel drunk!” and almost had to go to the hospital. All the mistakes, all the bumps, all the hardships that junior high brings. Man, those are some rough days. Rife with insecurities – you hate your skin, your hair, your body, your parents. You don’t feel cool enough, tall enough, rich enough. It’s the friends that got me through junior high that I think I probably hold nearest because of what we’ve shared.

And, the list goes on. There’s not a milestone in my life that I can’t think of a friend who shared it with me – driving, college, first loves and heartbreaks, the days you don’t think you can get out of bed, the days you’re so drunken with laughter and love that you just HAVE.TO share it with someone – and those someones are always your friends. My vault is overflowing with funny stories, pictures from weekends together, vacations together, nights together…

One of the hardest thing I’ve dealt with recently, as I’m rapidly reaching the end of my 20s, is letting go of some of these friendships as our 30s approach and people grow distant and apart. They say as you get older, friends weed out and those who REALLY MATTER are the friends who stick around – just a few good friends, not 30 good friends. But here’s the problem, there’s not a friend in my wide reaching circle – junior high, high school, college, parting, work – who doesn't matter to me. I have always had a really time hard letting go of friendships; I am loyal to a fault. Even when someone hurts my heart. Even when they are less of a person than I care to be associated with. Even when they don’t love me back quite as much as I love them. Even when they disappoint me. If you are my friend, you are generally my friend for life. And if I’ve ever set you free and watched our friendship sail off into the horizon, don’t think it hasn’t or didn’t cost me a lot of worry and sleepless nights. Don’t think I didn’t weigh the pros and the cons. Don’t think it was a rash decision.

Recently, I feel like a lot of my friends are or have been a lot more self centered or selfish than I really care for. Perhaps that’s what happens when we get older and you lose contact with friends – people start getting wrapped up in their own lives and forget to put their half of the friendship in. They’re busy with careers, boyfriends, engagements, hobbies, marriages and moving. Sometimes it’s just so exhausting to feel you’re the only person putting in the effort. The only person making plans or asking how that interview went. Sometimes I want Me time, not You time. A friendship, just like a relationship, is 50/50 yah know.

My very, very best friend has listened to me sadly tell these stories in the last six months – the friend who keeps letting me down. The friend that left me out. The friend who keeps taking, taking, taking and never giving.

“Do you think she’s friends with you because she really likes YOU,” she said. “Or do you think it’s because you’ve just been friends for a really long time?”

I denied it at the time.

“No, no way. We’ve been friends for a long time, but I feel like we’re legitimately friends to be friends. We’ve always had a lot in common and enjoyed each others’ company. At least I'd like to think so.”

And then I started thinking… what if there are all these friends that I’m only holding close because of the length of our friendship, not because we genuinely like who each other are, enjoy each others' company or have evolved together as friends?

How do you let a friendship be for what it is in the past and what it might never be in the future?

3 comments:

kc mom said...

Personally, I think that just as we change, so do our relationships/friendships. Sometimes you will be closer to one friend more than other b/c of circumstances going on in each other's lives. I am the same way as you, loyal to a fault! You probably give more than you get. But, it sounds like that is your nature. Go with it, it is a great quality to possess. Friends are like flowers or money---you can never have too many or too much!!!!

Je said...

Haha - that's a great quote. Couldn't be more true. I think that's a great way to look at it - maybe friendships ebb and flow a little bit. Perhaps I don't have to completely let someone go, but understand that it isn't our time to completely connect as friends? That's a little bit more comforting. ;)

Michael said...

KC has a great point here.

I don't have any friends, so I'm not really the one to ask, but as we get busier, things get pushed to the side. Life is too short to spend it doing things that suck. If a friendship becomes a drain or an obligation, it's time to let it go. Like a marriage, you don't stick around because you're comfortable. You stick around because you want to be there.

My wife and I, in our more reflective moods, have both asserted that we like each other too much to become trapped. If ever we are together because of obligation, then it is time to go.