"You're used to your friends being pressed for you. Being all in your face. It just looks so obsessive", she said as she shook her head, the look of agitation slowly blossoming on her face. "You need to know that I'm not like them. I'm not going to be all over you. I'm not gonna be all in your face. I don't view friendship like that. That's just not how I do things..."
I started to grow defensive as I listened to her monologue. "'...all over me'? What? Why is she trying to make it seem like I only want to be friends with people who gravel at my feet..?"
"If we enjoy each other's company and always have a good time together, why not kick it on the regular? Why can't we just always have fun and be fun together?"
"People think differently. I just do things differently."
She was big on compartmentalization when it came to friendships. These people for this thing; those friendships for that. No need to overlap; just enjoy this precise moment for what it is and I'll be in touch with you when I need you for another moment again. But... me? I always figured we could all be friends. The ideology of 'Party Friends' and 'Spiritual Friends' and 'Museum Friends' and 'Happy Hour Friends' and 'Fashion Friends' just makes me feel tumultuous. If I have fun with you and then I turn around and have fun with them well... why can't we all hang out and have fun together? And, this may be a bit selfish but, I find it much easier to just keep up with everything (and everyone) if it's all in one place. No worries about conflicting schedules and such. We're all just one big happy framily, right?
And even though I felt assured in my sentiments, the irritation of her words soon led to doubt and apprehensiveness seeping into my system. "Maybe I have been pampered and don't know what friendship is..."
If I took her words for the truth that they were - early indicators to the beginning of a demise of a friendship - then I probably would not have let them haunt my spirit for so long. But I didn't. And so her words had their way. And the next couple of years were spent trying to refute the "foolishness" of her words, placing me in the midst of friendships seemingly more defined by proximity and ease of access at the moment than actual value and appreciation.
So now I sit here staring down the demise of yet more friendsh-- well, I guess the more appropos term should be "extended associateships"? Anyway, as I begin to live out the end of another set of relationships while attempting to avoid the overwhelming feeling of failure, all I can think is... "...of all the things she said, why the fuck I did internalize that bullshit?"
After no one shows up to her birthday party, Carrie feels incredibly depressed, worried suddenly that, at age 35, she is still alone with not even man in her life to help celebrate her day. When Charlotte suggested the idea that perhaps friendships were the actual "soul mates" and not the men that waltzed in and out of their lives, a light bulb went off in my head. Because that is an exact descriptor of what my friends mean to me. Our family, the first romance of our lives, teach us nearly everything will will grow to believe about love. Fathers and brothers set the example of how their daughters feel like they should be treated and valued from other men. Mothers and daughters influence the patterns of what men expect from significant others. Years of watching parental interactions create the foundation definitions of how we believe the dynamics of romantic relationships should shape out. All of this prepares us for dating and, eventually, marriage. The cycle reforming when you decide to have children of your own. But friendship is different. Its a situation where respect, communication, compatibility, chemistry, love, and commitment is expected (the same tenets of romantic relationships) ....without the physical intimacy or romance. Your first friend was a stranger you met and decided that their value was so important that it was a necessity for them to be in your life. You saw a stranger and thought, "Hmm...like you and think you're cool and I choose to be around you". And their importance wasn't based on the possibility of a certain level of physical intimacy or blood lines that tied you together forever. It wasn't a person that was already there... or obligated to be there... or something you hoped to build your idea of 'forever' around. It was just a person you thought was good enough for a simple "I value you".
The older I get, the more I recognize that I want all my relationships to flow around this simple tenet of "I value you". I'm around you because I care about you. I listen to you because I value your opinions. We're going to lunch because I want to make sure I'm abreast with the happenings of your life. I'm giving you this warning because I care about how you're perceived. This forwarded email is because I think it's something you'd be interested in. A text just to check on your day when I know you've been dealing with a lot. Champagne for your birthday ...and again your first big raise ... and again for the new apartment ... and one more time for the engagement. We'll have the good stuff for your engagement. Rooftop happy hours just because it's a sunny Tuesday. A shared GIF because I know you'd love the humor. And maybe just sitting at your house and watching HBO documentaries because neither of us wants to be alone right now. You are not an isolated moment but more of a constant thread flowing throw the fabric of my existence. A real and tangible and intentional relationship. All because I value you and you're important to me and your companionship is enough. And that is the power of friendship.
Quite frankly, any new love interest I bring into my life may very well never know me as well as my friends do. We will, undoubtedly, become very close but... the depth may not be able to ever compare to that found with the people who have held my heart for years before I knew He ever came to my life. The people who have held my hand through every heartache, cheered me when the dreams felt to heavy, smiled on my soul when I felt alone, pushed me forward when I felt I couldn't do enough, and laughed at (or with) me through all the nonsensical jokes. The levels are just too deep and, perhaps, they should never be compared. My guy may very well be my great adventure but my friends will always hold the keys to my soul. And I refuse to believe there is anything wrong with that.