Thursday, August 24, 2006

Friendship cycles

I've noted this more and more often as I get older. If you let them, friends will come in and out of your life and play many different roles as you find your way through the world. If they're good friends, they give you the space to grow as well.

My little brother ended his friendship to his oldest friend a couple of years ago. Surprisingly, my father actually commented on that when I was home once. He noted that we sometimes lose our closest childhood friends for the most ridiculous reasons, and that sometimes those friends are the ones who know us best. If not best, then in a way that no one else ever will.

My brother's response was that he didn't miss the friendship, so he feels that they both just outgrew it.

I have to side with my little brother on this one.

I, too, recently had an old friendship end. It's sad when it happens, but sometimes, you just outgrow each other. Sometimes, the person you're becoming just isn't going to fit with the person you used to be.

And sometimes, you're so used to seeing how you want a friend to be, that you miss who they really are.

I take full responsibility for the way my friendship ended. My friend and I were so close for so long, that I just assumed that my definition of friendship was hers as well, when I never bothered to ask.

My philosophy on friendship is that friends are the family that you choose. It's not just genetics. As you grow, you know who you are, you know what you need, you recognize familiar traits in others, and you choose to bring them into your circle. You depend on them, and in return, they can depend on you. If a friend needs you, you say "yes" and then ask questions later.

I definitely saw her for who she was. When you're so close to someone, attending the same high school, the same college, roomates after graduation, you can't help but have a really good understanding of their personality. But for all of her stubbornness, her inherent selfishness, her insecurities, and her avoidance of responsibility, I loved her to death. She saw all of my temper tantrums, my outrageous antics, my over-emotional reactions, my unreasonable requests, and my controlling personality. We were best friends forever.

But the problem was that while I understood her, I thought that if it ever came to me, things would be different. We were best friends!! Surely what she wouldn't do for others, she would do for me. I had always been there for her, whenever she needed me, whether I agreed with the situation or not. This was not for any gain on my part, but simply because I loved her and that's what I thought a best friend should do.

And then came a day when I needed help. Granted, it was an extremely difficult situation to be put in - tough for even the most stalwart of friends. When I shared with others, I had offers of support and assistance, even from afar. But when I needed someone by my side, I turned to my best friend - and she declined.

I was deeply hurt - betrayed even, and that moment put a rift in our friendship from which it never recovered. She returned my call within minutes, apologetic and wanting to help out any way she could, but the damage had already been done. For a long time, I blamed her. I was angry and upset that she couldn't find it in her to help someone she claimed to be so close to. She couldn't put forth enough effort to support me the way I thought a best friend should. But the more I considered that perhaps she couldn't help me. Perhaps it was my fault for not seeing that, and putting her in a position to fail?

It's true that your old friends know you best, in a way that no one else that you'll meet later in life ever will, but the best old friends give you room to grow. They accept that despite any changes, you will remain fundamentally the person that they became friends with. They don't love you because you're a vegetarian, or because you're a democrat. Those things will change as you go through life phases, and good friends accept and embrace those changes. In fact, they might even get to laugh about those phases with you after they've passed. Old friends will support you unconditionally because you are their friend, because they love you (whether you're stubborn, opinionated, meek or retiring), they understand what you need from them, and what they are willing to give. You need more than love for a friendship to endure. You have to have that basic understanding of your responsibility in the friendship, and then you can maintain some semblance of friendship as the years pass.

It's difficult to accept, and it's always sad when a friendship ends, but I believe it's always better to be honest with yourself about how you're feeling than to try to force the friendship to endure.

I'm big on being honest with yourself. I don't miss her, but I sure do wish that things had turned out differently.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Age Difference

My little brother got engaged a couple of weeks ago.

Let me say that again.

My brother, who happens to be 5 years my junior, got engaged. To be married. To his high school sweetheart nonetheless.

And you know what? I thought I would be upset about this.

I thought it would be emotionally traumatizing to see my younger brother go through this rite of passage before me. I thought it would make me fall to pieces and question everything about my life and what I've accomplished thus far.

Instead, I find myself really happy for him and his fianceƩ.

(whew. I'm glad to find out that deep inside, I actually AM a good person.)

I mean, I'm a cynical person. I can't help but make jokes about the "perfectness" of it all. He's adorable, his fianceƩ is beautiful, they're high school sweethearts, they were originally going to get married on a beach in Hawaii... it's enough to make someone, well...sick. My first thought was that something that perfect couldn't actually be real. My second thought was to take comfort in the fact that you don't truly appreciate love until you've been devastated by it.

Then I thought, "You know what? That's crap."

My path through life has been drastically different than my little brother's, but that's what makes me me, and makes him him. Instead of catalouging the various ways that my scars make me superior...

I find myself rooting for him. You go little brother. This will work out for you. This will be wonderful and perfect and fun and true. I have faith that your path will be everything you want it to be, and I wish you every happiness. I'm glad I'm here to watch you go through it.

Now I get to sit back and watch the wedding plans commence. THAT should be fun :-)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cohabitation - Part IV

Note: There was a delay in posting this blog because I had to get permission.

I try not to blog about "real" things in my life. I dislike when people tell me that they feel they've caught up on my life by reading my blogs... I blog to be entertaining, silly, and have fun. If you really want to know what's going on with me, shoot me an e-mail.

That said, there is definitely a fourth part to cohabitating...I just couldn't write about it without permission. I now have permission - sort of. So here is a list of things that I do NOT understand about men in general. Things that I've heard other women mention, and I've found to be true. This should in no way make you think that the man I live with participates in these actions - this is just a general blog aimed at no one in particular.*

1) Dirty Clothes = Hamper. How hard is that? Seriously, if they don't go in the hamper, where DO they go? I mean, they can't go on the floor (as discussed previously), they can't go in the closet (may send females into a violent rage) and they can't go back in the drawers to be worn again (eventually someone will catch on to this strategy.) This issue has actually come a long way since the cohabitation began. The dirty clothes used to be nowhere near the hamper. Then (with a little help from Laney) they began to appear close to the hamper - maybe on top of the hamper. Now, every so often, there will be one sock in the hamper and one on the floor, or the hamper will be empty on Sunday, and then overflowing on Monday morning. It's mind-boggling really. Which brings me to...

2) ...the number of outfits that men will wear in any given day. When I lived alone, I did one load of laundry maybe once every other week. Now? I find I have to do laundry two or three times per week! When I'm folding these loads, I'll find one shirt that's mine - maybe one outfit that I wore to workout the day before. EVERYTHING else belongs to the boy. Seriously. It's unbelievable! Since I only see him for any amount of time in the evenings, and he doesn't change then, I am forced to assume that he comes home from work roughly every three hours to change clothing for fun. I KNOW he doesn't workout I have no idea what's going on. I'll ask him, and he just laughs. I don't think I WANT to know.

3) The remote control. Now, I've heard this is an issue for many couples, but I didn't understand. I thought you just decided (together) what to watch that evening, and then gave him the remote to avoid arguments. He can hold it, control know - that sort of thing. I have now found that this issue is far more complex. We will be watching a show that we're both interested in (ie Shark Week last week on the Discovery Channel - woot for Shark Week!!!) and the moment a commercial comes on, the channel is being changed. WTF? I mean, I KNOW he's interested in what we're watching, and wants to see the rest of it...does he have ADD? It's like he wants to see as many other channels in two and a half minutes as humanly possible. I don't think he even stays on any one channel long enough to see what's on. I'll see a flash of Paris Hilton's face, the Geiko gecko, a flash of the score for the Cubs game (we might actually pause here long enough for me to start complaining about missing Sharks), a dog, the Pasta Express, a tree, and then we'll we'll flash back to the channel we were originally on. It's the weirdest male ritual ever. I have found no rhyme, reason or cure for this phenomenon.

4) The refrigerator. (I actually had a discussion with him to better understand this over the weekend. All I did was laugh. I don't understand anything at all.) Here's the best way to explain.

I had a friend spend Sunday evening with me last week. We ordered deep dish pizza, and between the three of us, there was only one piece left at the end of the evening. I was cleaning up the kitchen, and I was going to pitch it, but decided at the last minute that one piece would be enough for lunch on Monday. I wrapped it in aluminum foil, and put it in a drawer in the refrigerator - where I promptly forgot it on Monday morning.

On Tuesday, I looked for my lunch in vain. Finally, I woke the boyfriend up and asked him if he had eaten the piece of pizza yesterday. He sheepishly said yes. No big deal - it was only pizza.

But then I started wondering. How did he know the pizza was in there? How did he know where to look? We do the grocery shopping together, so he has to know what's in the fridge. If he had no reason to suspect that there was pizza, how did he find it? I asked him, and here's the explanation I received.

"You know, it's funny. I'll look in the refrigerator, then the pantry, then the cupboards for food, and then I'll repeat the process if I don't see anything I like. I know every single thing that we have in that apartment to eat, but if I don't feel like fixing any of them, I'll keep looking for something else. Even if we haven't gone to the store lately. It's almost like I expect the Food Fairy to visit and drop me something to eat. Sometimes, I'll just get lucky. When I saw the pizza I didn't know what it was, but I knew immediately that it was something I hadn't seen before, so it was fresh, and from the shape, I assumed it was a leftover that you had rescued. I opened it, and it was my lucky day. You hadn't said you wanted it, so I ate it."

Does anyone else find this weird? I mean maybe it's just me.... I mean, you've got to admire his optimism, right? But I can almost picture him looking hopefully into the refrigerator three times in 10 minutes at the exact same items....hoping against hope he'll find something different.

There's more, but I'll get to those later. When I have permission :-)

*If you believe that, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you - cheap!!