Welcome boys and girls to round 2 of our therapy session, lol. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately on the idea of friendship, and what expectations we put on those friends. What makes us want to be friends with people? Are you “really” friends with the people you call your friends, or are they simply cool people you like hanging out with?
It’s kind of funny when I think about how I look at the idea of friendship now, as opposed to when I was….oh, I don’t know, like 10. I can remember when I was younger all I ever wanted was to be friends with everybody. I wanted to be so cool in the worst way. And I did have my brief moment at the top of Cool Mountain, albeit a short run. To be honest, the sad part is I peaked at such a young age I had nowhere to go but down…..and down I went; all the way to the nerd-cellar, ugh.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane shall we? To happier times; called the 5th grade. Some of you who I still know from those times may try and disagree with me on this, but I was the FREAKING MAN in 5th grade. And yes, I do realize that it’s kind of hard not to be a little cool when you’re that young. We had not fully grasped our abilities to be cruel kids; that came a short year later in the 6th grade. Middle school was the beginning of the end, but that’s a story for another time.
I can remember 5th grade like it was yesterday; which is funny because I can barely remember much of high school. I was in Mrs. Nelson’s class, the cool class!!! We spent the majority of our year getting ready for this show we eventually put on called the Alpha Clowns Show. I was the letter “A”; dig that!! This was in the early “can do no wrong” years of my mother. I don’t really remember why, but for some reason my mother had a lot of free time on her hands, and volunteered to make, that’s right, I said “MAKE” every kid’s costume by hand for this show. That’s 32 kids man!!!
Anyway, I know that has nothing to do with what I was talking about. So, another cool memory from that year (and on topic) was that my mom threw a party for me that year; I think it was a Halloween party if I’m not mistaken. But the crazy part was that she allowed me to invite my entire 5th grade class, plus kids in other classes that I had been in class with throughout the past few years. This woman was crazy, lol. I can’t imagine the sadistic nature that would make you think, “Yeah, 50 some-odd screaming 10 year olds sounds like fun.” F that man!!! But, it was still awesome. I felt so cool.
Like I said, I wanted to be cool. I wanted to be like by everyone man. Now, not so much. It’s interesting how your wants and expectations of friends change over the years. I use to say as kid, “Oh, I have lots of friends” because everybody was my friend. It didn’t matter if we had known each other for years, or if we hung out once or twice; everybody was tagged as a friend. And to be honest this frame of thinking didn’t change that long ago. I know the way I say things like, “when I was younger” or “now that I’m older,” but really I didn’t change the way I look at friends until maybe 2 or 3 years ago, if that.
Even though I make it sound like I don’t have anyone that is close to me now, I can honestly say I still have a good core group of people in my life that I consider really good friends. The cool thing too is that they are all from different parts of my life. I feel very lucky to have such great friends from the different times in my life (i.e. my life in San Diego, my time in the Army, and now my life here in DC). I want to focus on my time in San Diego though, because it’s obviously the area I spent most my life in.
Before I met my wife I was hanging with a group of people I worked with. They were all really cool people; for the most part. It was the usual thing, happy hours, bbq’s on holiday and weekends, shit like that. But I grew pretty close with some of them and we kind of moved to that next stage in the friend relationship; that would be trusting each other with personal stuff, meeting each other’s families and spending more time with one another outside of the normal get-togethers. Even after I met my wife it was the same thing, I just assimilated her into the group, and everybody loved her. And it went along like this for the next couple of years.
It’s not until we moved out here to DC that I started to notice that things were different. Before we left we did the whole “Goodbye Party” thing at friends’ houses. It was the usual “we’re going to miss you” and “oh, you can’t go” and “don’t worry, we’ll talk all the time.” The last one is there is the one that gets me. Once we got here it was like I went from hearing from all these people everyday, to nothing. And I get it, I wasn’t there anymore, and it’s not like we’re going to hang out, but a phone call or even a Facebook message saying hi would have been nice once in and a while, but it was like I never existed.
I still heard from my guys, and I still do. But that’s a given. These are my guys I’ve known from way back. They’re my best friends. Shit, even “Best Friend” has a weird feel. Why is there a need to define one friend or a couple of friends as “best” over everyone else? Shouldn’t all friends be best friends? Hmmm, think about it, even the introduction to someone else would sound kind of jacked up, “These are my friends A, B and C….oh, but this is my best friend over here.” It’s like saying, “thanks for coming out, but you don’t quite make the cut as a best friend, but you can still be my regular friend.”
Anyway, I got a little off track there. So, fast forward to us being in DC for almost a year, and our wedding is coming soon. Steph and I are working hard to put together a good guest list. We both knew that her side was going to be way bigger than mine (obviously you don’t have a lot of people to invite when your family pretends like you don’t exist), but we thought we got a pretty balanced list of people from our respective hometowns, and different areas of our lives.
My side of the list mainly consisted of my best friends (there it is again) from San Diego and the Army, and all the rest of my peeps from San Diego, mainly the group I spoke of earlier. At this time a lot of my friends were hurting just like the rest of the country with being out of work, or money just being tight, stuff like that. So being the good friend I am, I offered to try and help any way I could. I mean, I wasn’t able to pay for anyone’s trip outright, but I offered several people to help with tickets or cover a night or two of their hotel stay. I even spent a lot of my free time scouring the internet to find the best flight deals I could for them. The conversation with a couple of people in particular was always the same. It went something like, “Oh I don’t know yet if I can make it. I’m still out of work, and I’m trying to save as much of my money as possible” etc., etc. And like I said, I get it, times are tough. But what killed me a little inside was that toward the end, I found some great airfare and even found a way that if some of them shared a hotel room it would be so cheap. Still, I got the same answers. To make it worse for all the months I was putting in work to try and help these people come to “my” wedding I would see constant Facebook statuses from these same people like, “Went out and got so drunk last night at the bar” or “Going away for the weekend with friends to party.” This always bugged me a bit, but I never said anything. I was always a little disappointed that they could seem to put like $20 a month aside to come to the wedding, but that getting drunk on the regular was higher on the priority list than seeing me get married.
In the end, these friends never made the trip. None of my Army friends did either, but they get a pass from me as one of them was in Iraq at the time, another lives in Ohio (one of the worst areas in the country hit by the economy crashing) and was out of work and trying to support a wife and kid, and the last one was doing the same as the second but our schedules just couldn’t match – a far cry from the San Diego friends who were too busy getting wasted and acting like they were 22 again.
My wedding day came, and was the best day of my entire life. But, I do want to be as honest as possible in these blogs. There were a couple of times when I looked around and got a tad misty-eyed thinking that not only my family, but some of my friends had decided that I wasn’t that important to them as well. The majority of the crowd was from Stephanie’s list, but in the end I am so glad the friends of mine that were there, were there. It was an awesome night.
I’ve struggled with what happened for the last year. It wasn’t until Steph and I were discussing one of the people from the above story that things became a little clearer. Steph was listening to me drone on and on about one of these people, and finally Steph says to me, “Babe!! Who cares? This person is not your friend. Maybe they were at one point, but life moves on, and so should you.” I protested a bit, and then she continued, “They were cool to hang out with, and it was fun while it lasted, but we moved, and they moved on, and that’s ok.” It took me a while, but eventually I knew she was right. But even then I still had trouble letting go of the idea of what “I think a friend should be.”
I recently read a book called “The Shack.” In short, it’s about a guy who goes through some pretty traumatic stuff, which ends up shaking his faith in God. To help him through this time, God invites him to visit for a chat. The main character ends up spending a weekend with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit (which is represented by an Asian woman character called Sarayu). It was very powerful book for me. At one point in the book the main character is talking with God about the power of relationships, and a big part of helping yourself grow is by not putting expectations on any relationship, no matter how long or short it may be. Rather, live your life in “expectancy.” By doing this, you don’t set yourself up to feel let down by what you may perceive as others not living up to your expectations, but rather just live in the “expectancy” of having a good time when you are around those people, or in the wonderful memories you’ve shared with one another.
It’s kind of funny when you look around, even at this age, you still see the word friend thrown around all loosey-goosey. Look at all these social networking sites; primarily Facebook. How many “friends” do you have, lol. Maybe I should write them and suggest they change the term to “connections” or something along those lines. But until then, I will continue to play their game. So on that note, it was one of my Facebook friends who kind of sparked this time on the couch with you today. Their status read, “Change is inevitable, friendships included; as you shift from one place in your life to another.” This is so true. I’m not going to waste anymore time trying to judge the level at which I think a “friendship” has reached, or if I’m “really” friends with someone. Instead, I will simply be grateful for the wonderful, and somewhat interesting, people in my life. From here on out it’s no more expectations, just expectancy. Thank you to all the people in my life for the time we have shared together; whether it was a brief meeting, or a long lasting friendship.
Thanks…..this was a good talk.