Lost and Found

December 21, 2006 at 11:18 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve been giving some of my friendships, past and present, quite a bit of thought recently. It all started when we were about to leave for Italy, and I tried to contact someone to let them know we would be there. Many years ago, this guy was a really good friend of mine. One of my best friends, actually. We haven’t seen each other in five, five and a half years, and the last time, in New York City (one of my other favourite places in the universe) it didn’t go very well. Still, it seemed completely counterintuitive not to try to see him in Italy. Or at least to let him know we’d be there, and leave the decision to him. He’s very successful in his chosen field now, which is wonderful, so it wasn’t hard locating an office email. It wasn’t his address, but it would certainly get to him. I never heard back, and I didn’t try again. Sometimes silence booms.

Then last week, by chance, I found out he was in Australia in July to give a talk in Melbourne. This information upset and disappointed me to an unreasonable, irrational degree, so much so that I dashed off a spluttering note of indignation and sent it to his last known address before I could calm down. How could he not get in touch? Australia is so far away – these opportunities are so, so rare. This friend and I used to talk about and dream about his getting down here one day, and now he’s been, and he didn’t even bother to let me know. It was a deliberate slight; there’s actually no foreseeable chance he could have touched down in Australia without at least a glancing thought in my direction. And still he said nothing, not even for old times sake. Ouch.

I remember when Sarah and I were in Budapest in 1999, I got a really shitty email from a Canadian friend I had roomed with, in Canada, for two years. She basically said she couldn’t be bothered keeping in contact with me; she didn’t see the point, and she wasn’t interested enough to try finding one. It took my breath away. Then there’s the Danish friend who just never responded to our wedding invitation. Her husband told me she “doesn’t do email.” Well, I don’t do discourtesy. Even I, a faithful correspondent to the point of masochism and delusion, eventually have my limits.

Just as I have been unceremoniously dropped by some friends, so have I pulled the pin on others. I did it just the other day, in fact. A friend moved overseas a couple of years ago, and I didn’t hear from her, except once, when she wanted something from me. Now she’s back and looking for playmates, so she called me. I found myself saying “I just don’t think I have anything to say to you. And if you have absolutely no idea why I might feel that way, then that about sums it up, really.” I wished her all the best, and I hung up. When I withdraw my friendship, I tend to be quite decisive about it. The judge’s decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

I wish I could do the same thing in those circumstances where, for whatever reason, someone just can’t be bothered knowing me anymore. I wish I could just say “Roger that, wanker,” and never think of them again. But I don’t do that. With my Italian friend, especially, I seem unwilling and unable to accept the overwhelming evidence that he is simply not interested in being my friend anymore. What I need to do is adjust my position slightly, so I can see it from the point of view of being the dropper rather than the drop-ee. I know what that’s like, and I know that when I hit that point, that’s it. And that must be where he’s at with me. Or where he was at, more accurately, years ago when it actually happened. It’s well and truly time for me to catch up.

But then every now and again I manage to find someone again, and it’s this possibility that keeps my naturally optimistic view of friendship fairly open. Just yesterday I rediscovered an old friend’s email address, tried it, and he wrote back straight away. We’re really happy to hear from each other, and it’s lovely to think that particular long-lost friendship is now found. I kept wanting that to happen with my Italian friend. But you can’t always get what you want, so it’s very lovely when, as happened yesterday, sometimes you do.

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4 Comments

  1. Mike said,

    Happiness is letting go of the need for external reaffirmation. The world floats by doing what it wants – just sit blissfully ignorant of what people think (well, try to, anyway). Play with the people who float in when they do, and just know that shit happens sometimes when people float away. Much easier that way — used to get tied in knots about all this stuff, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

    I know it seems a bit vacuous, but the alternative is to get all antsy whenever another “friend’s” head goes too far up their own arse. The world we live in today is all about me, Me, MEEEEEEEE!! (and, quite frankly, I’m over it)

    :þ XXX

  2. doctordi said,

    I hate the me-me-me-ness of the moment too, Mike. Truly hate it. I think it’s really destructive on lots and lots of levels. Personally, I do like trying – not always succeeding, but trying – to be a better friend to the people I care about. But I guess if I am to truly do that, it has to be unencumbered. I can’t do it expecting anything, even friendship, in return. I think that’s what I am struggling with – “Why don’t you want to be my friend when I have so faithfully been yours?” – and basically, I have to accept it’s not always a mutual exchange of affection. I am very happy to play with the people who float in when they do, but I also always tend to miss them when they’re gone. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, and I might keep leaving my door open, just in case they ever float back in.

  3. Mike said,

    I didn’t mean to say shut the door when people float away, just understand that sometimes they do float away — be waiting at the door when they float back.

    I like to try too, and, on the other hand, I’m sure we’ve all been guilty at some stage of what we’re complaining about.

    Virgos can be wierd things.

  4. doctordi said,

    Oh yeah, I know I’ve let people down horribly on occasion, and sometimes I just don’t want to be waiting at the door. Sometimes I’ve had enough. Really I’m not saying anything other than I am trying to understand it all and my place in it a bit better, and I am trying not to feel so hurt when it doesn’t go my way. But yes, Virgos can be weird.

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