Monday, March 9, 2009

"My advice to you. I know you think those guys are your friends. You wanna be a true friend to them? Be honest, and unmerciful."

M has a friend who is from England. He recently told M that he thinks people in America make friends too easy. In England, they call people they know briefly "acquaintences" and only close companions get the title of "friend".

I've been thinking about it for a couple of months now. And I've decided that I tend to agree.

But that's not what this post is about. No, this post is about the evolution of friendship.

Every once and a while, I'll think back to friends who have come into my life, have served whatever purpose they had at that particular time in space, and have taken their exits just as quickly. Even now, their names and faces come clearly to my mind: Jennifer, Craig, Timmarie, Duane, Trish, Courtney, Crystal, Vera, Rosa Lee, Ivonne, Letty, LeAnne. . .

There are also the ones that come and go, breezing in and out like a curtain in an open window when a good breeze picks up.

And then there are those that came into my life and stay awhile. The ones who, for whatever reason and purpose, seem to take up residence and sometimes even cross the border into Family-ish territory. They're the ones I continue to seek out, or who seek me out, because they get me, because we think alike, because we have a "history," because they crack me up, because they're good conversationalists, because they make me feel better just to be around them, because we have shared interests, because I can just be myself with them. . . . or any myriad other reasons.

Time is speeding up. Everyone says so. This fact - added to the facts that life is busy and that we do, in fact, keep living it - makes it such that lasting, enduring friendships inevitably must change and grow with us.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this over the last few years, really pondering how it is a person can hold onto long-term friends, despite the fact that the ties that bind have grown threadbare and weak. I've pondered how it is you stay friends with certain folks, even though the original purpose of the friendship has long since worn out. I've even read articles that swear that there is a decline of friendship in America. I've read other articles about how it is that friendships evolve.

Turns out, it doesn't always happen smoothly. Sometimes people just don't get along. Sometimes it is just that difficult to make schedules (and personalities) work together. And sometimes, that means relegating a friend previously on the list of Keepers to the Once in A While list, or even the Once Upon a Time list.

Through much trial and error, I've decided that, much like we do with ourselves, we have to reinvent our friendships with the Keepers. For whatever reason we ultimately make the decision that "yes, this is a person I want to continue to have as a friend, to be in my life," sometimes the friction caused by that desire causes so much confusion and strife because, despite all our wishes to the contrary, that friend simply no longer fulfills their historical role (i.e. no longer performs their friendly function) in our lives.

I've come to the conclusion that we don't have to be the same kind of friends we once were with certain people. Friendships can change even as we ourselves evolve. And this can happen without creating a permanent rift or causing major confrontations. Our weekend hangout friends can become our daily-phone-chat friends. Our couple-we-travel-with can become our "let me tell you where I wanna go next" friends. Our right-around-the-corner friends can become our close-friends-who-now-live-far-away (but we wish they didn't and secretly hope they move back) friends. The shift can be subtle, and the changes very small and gradual. But eventually, things can happen that we did not expect.

Sometimes, by opening up that space in our lives - by shifting that friend to another needed area - we can free up a place for someone new, for someone who can step ably into the vacant friend role. And by such happenstance, our repertoire of friends grows larger rather than smaller. When we stop trying to fit our now square-peg friend into that round-friend space, we may just suddenly find several understudies all around us, waiting and ready to step in at a moment's notice.

Who says friendship is dead or dying? (Oh yeah. That was me. Uh hmmm.)

Well, I've changed my mind because the truth is, it doesn't have to be that way. Not always.

[Title quote is from "Almost Famous"]


Jen said...

i so love the "you can be friends in a different way part" as you know! very interesting read. It all makes sense though. I find it interesting how friendships either dwindle or grow for unknown reasons. see you saturday!! i am glad i am on the friends instead of acquaintance list!!

Miranda said...

Wow- that makes so much sense! I know we both kind of feel the same way about friends right now, but you totally helped me to see the good in it. Thank you for your excellent words and advice. (See that's why you're the big sister!)

© Copyright 2010. Scorpion Sojourn. All Rights Reserved.
Blog Design by Caroline B. Designs