Last night was pretty great. I went downtown to see a rock show all on my own, which is not something that I usually do. I usually roll with my homies, the quiet one among a group of confident, artsy, funny friends. But I just haven’t been feeling as friendly as usual lately, if you couldn’t tell by some of my blog posts.
I find that when I do go out on my own, without anyone to tell me that they’d rather to this, or go there – I have a better time, and I find (maybe not better, but maybe) different people to hang out with that I normally would not. Working for Daryl’s campaign over the summer made me lots of new aquaintences that are quickly becoming new friends, and the time I spend with them is fun and free of drama and hangups and the weight of everything that has happened in the past – because we have no past. It’s so unbelievably refreshing to spend time with people who I don’t have grudges or baggage or bad thoughts between. With new friends, it’s hope and fun and positivity all the way, and lately I’ve been doing everything I can to seek out new experiences with new people.
See, I’ve never fancied myself a good friend. I can’t even hide that fact about me. When things get tough, I often get going, and it is nothing to be proud of, so at least, I feel, that if I own up to it and don’t try to hide it or deny it, I save at least a little bit of face. However – and here’s the catch – it’s not that I jump ship from friends when things get tough for THEM – I do it when it’s tough for me.
The truth of it is, I just have a very narrow personal definition of what a friend is, and it’s very self-centered and selfish:
Friend: (n) 1. Someone who you enjoy spending time with. 2. Someone who never makes you feel bad about yourself.
It’s simple, really. I’m ditching “friends” to make my life better and more enjoyable for me. In the last few years, there have been a lot of people in my life who I’ve spent time with and called friends, but I never felt that closeness, love, and yes, devotion, the way I feel those things for Alisha and Brian. Oftentimes I’ve sat in houses and at bars surrounded by “friends” wishing I were someplace else entirely. I haven’t enjoyed the time I spent with them. I am so terribly sick of feeling like time has been wasted with people I didn’t want to be spending it with.
And worse? I’ve had “friends” who have kept me up at night with memories of things they said about me or other people I care about – ugly, hateful things. I’ve had “friends” who can’t get themselves out of their own judgy pants, who seem to glow in the hot light of putting other people down. And really, that is what gets me the most. If you make a joke, even if you are “just kidding” and “don’t mean it” – but if you say things and they hurt, and you laugh and I balk? Are you a friend?
No. Not by my definition.
Alisha and I spend more time together than I’ve spent with any other person in my adult life, Brian is the only other one who comes close, and now Dan, Alisha’s husband, has become another person who I’ve grown close to and consider to be a real friend.
With Alisha, I can reach back into a decade of memories – ten years of memories with a person I have always been close to and cared for – and can I can count on one hand the times she has actually made me upset and feel bad. Once, I was very upset over something that was going on with Elise when she was a baby, and Alisha said something that seemed at the time to belittle my personal plight. I was mad, I was annoyed, but I forgave her. It was a misunderstanding. Then there was that time she started a book club and held the meetings on Mondays when she knew I couldn’t go because I had Elise, was raising her by myself and couldn’t leave my house at night. That annoyed the shit out of me, and the only reason I never made a big deal out of it is because the book club fizzled out after one book. Years later, after I brought it up, she apologized to me for that. She didn’t realize at the time, she says, that I wouldn’t be able to make it. I forgave her. Obviously. Then there was the time she had this crazy potentially catastrophic thing going on in her life and she waited nearly a week to tell me about it – and of course after I’d already found out most of the details. In a way, I was hurt that she didn’t come to me, but at the same time, I knew exactly why she didn’t – because she already knew what my reaction would be to her news and she knew exactly what I would have to say, and she was right.
There are no jokes at my expense. There are no behind the back complaints or shit-talking. There is no hurt, no shame, no resentment, and no anger between us, and that is why we’ve been friends for ten years.
One of these days I am going to have to publish a manifesto: I’m sorry, people I’ve called friends. I was just kidding. I’d rather not see you all anymore.
Until then, I guess, until I own up to this and have the talks I need to have with people to peacably and hopefully not painfully remove them from my life – I guess until then I’ll just remember the smiles and the laughter and the fun I have with people who don’t have that word “friend” attached to them. They are just beings flitting through my life, making me happy with their lives. It’s what I like right now.