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Friendship: Part 1

August 12, 2010

I recently set a cap on the number of friends I would accept on Facebook at 750. It was hard. I have a lot of students and former students who probably make up 3/4 of that amount. That still left a lot of friends. I spent a few hours over a couple of days coming up with categories: Students, Coworkers, Classmates, Family, Gaming Friends, Good Friends, Acquaintances, Friends of Friends, Random- Not-Quite-Strangers. It was a good exercise. Like many of you, time is precious. I want to spend it with my Friends.  Facebook has remade the word friend. It has started to lose its meaning like Love. I want new words for Friend like the oft quoted ‘Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow’ I want at least a dozen words for friend. 

I have longed for friends, the ones who slowly slip away when a week between phone calls becomes a month, then six months then a year….At that point I wonder, do I just hold them with fondness in my heart until chance, or fate, or luck bring us around the corner at the same time? If I pick up the phone will there be recrimination? Expectation? What use in phoning if I can’t commit the time and then inadvertently cause hard feelings as I let that friendship slip away again?

I have regretted endings. Disagreements that either or both were too proud or too tired to fix.  The ones I thought to just let cool down and they cooled to nothing.  I have to take responsibility for that.

I have a friend whom I admire greatly who makes a point to set aside a night and call those friends who have started to slip.  The ones she only talks to every six months or so.  I’m not that disciplined.

There are ‘Specialty’ friends – canning buddies, yoga buddies, wine-tasting buddies, writing buddies, Twilight buddies, book club buddies.  And often out of these shared interests deeper friendships grow and sometimes not.  I try not to take it personally.

Coworkers are often the hardest.  The glue of day-to-day work binds you and it is hard to transition that out of the workplace when one or the other or both no longer work together.   Those friends are a lot like school friends, bound together through shared experience.  I have many fond memories of coworkers and school friends and yet where will I fit them in?  My highschool reunion is fast approaching and I’m still on the fence.  Do I really want to resurrect these friendships or do I like them beautifully wrapped in nostalgia?

I probably have only two friends, outside of work, whom I consistently week after week, speak to every week.  Not multiple times a week, but at least once a week.  Sometimes on the phone, sometime by Facebook, email or text but there is some contact.  And yet I hear of people who still find time in their day to speak/email/text with their best friend.  I am humbled by their commitment.

Of real friends, deeply connected through personality, shared experience and world view I have a few dozen and in that I feel blessed.  A few dozen I can commit to, 750 I cannot.  A few dozen I could spend meaningful time with a few times a year. I might actually remember their birthdays. A few dozen won’t sap my strength and overwhelm me.

So as I continue to slowly delete the friends of friends and random acquaintances, forgive me.  Forgive me, my long-lost friends. Forgive me my mistakes, my inattention, and slights.  Know that I still wish you joy and happiness even as our paths diverge.  And, forgive me new friends yet to come if I am hesitant to start a relationship, the heart is willing but the calendar is full.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2010 10:41 pm

    Great words – it is something I struggle with as I meet so many people for a short period of time. When they want to be Facebook friends I struggle because we did have a connection – but are we really friends?
    I find it very trying.
    It was great to read – thanks.

    • August 13, 2010 9:07 pm

      David – so true in the arts we are constantly experiencing short term, intimate friendships and then we move to the next show and start all over again. We don’t love them any less but where do we fit them in?

  2. Theresa permalink
    August 13, 2010 10:41 am

    I loved reading this! Have you read Smilla’s Sense of Snow? I like your idea of having many more words for friends. I keep a spreadsheet to track addresses and phone numbers and especially cell phone numbers and emails of friends which seem to be constantly changing. Me, I am proud to boast I have had the same email address since I first signed up with hotmail 15 years ago!!! Anyway, the point I was getting to was that eventually I had to create tabs in the spreadsheet to make it more manageable!!! I came up with these: family, work contacts (some of whom are also “friends”), Friends, Far Friends (those in Alberta, California, Ontario, etc.), and More Friends (which is the tab for people I’m not in contact with often but I still like them!). And that’s it. Five categories. If someone doesn’t fit into one of those, well, they’re not on my spreadsheet! My Facebook friends are a whole other story. One I’ve yet to analyze like you have! I figure my spreadsheet is a better representation of who my friends actually are because they are the people whose addresses I want to know in case I go visit them or mail them something. 🙂 Ah, the mail. Remember the mail? Anyway, I didn’t mean for my comment to approach the length of your post, but it’s just such a damn interesting one!!!
    BTW – You are my true friend and I love you – and I mean both words absolutely!

    • August 13, 2010 9:05 pm

      I’m going to look up Smila’s Sense of Snow for sure!
      I love you right back and I’m going to add a new catagory ‘true blue friend’.

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