Jun 7, 2016

Just call on me, brother, when you need a hand. Or don't. Whatever.

Two mnemonic devices that I remember from grade school spelling class are "the principal is your pal" and "a friend is a friend 'til the end." That first one has nothing to do with this blog; I just can't resist the urge to improve the internet's spelling ability whenever I get the chance. But that last one is both a helpful spelling tip and a truism: friends are your friends until the end, either of time or of the friendship, whichever comes first (usually the latter).

Most friendships, like cartons of milk, have expiry dates. You meet someone at a particular point in both your lives, and the relationship is mutually beneficial for a certain period of time. Then something happens, usually some major life change like graduation or a change in geography or a new job or a new boyfriend or one of you has a baby or the podcast fades or you realize you're an alcoholic and have to stop going to the bar. (Hell, maybe you go to jail. It's got to be hard to maintain friendships from jail.) And you move on, and that friendship just fades away until one day you're looking through old photo albums and you find that you can't even remember the name of the person who was once important enough to you that you developed a photograph of them and put it in an album. (Or maybe that just happens to me. I have a really terrible memory, especially for proper names. As an aside, yes, I still develop photographs and put them in albums like a weirdo.)

Sometimes people are very important in your life and then they just aren't anymore. As a society, we place great emphasis on loyalty, but fuck loyalty, I say. Or rather, be loyal until it isn't worth it anymore. Unlike family, friendships are relationships that you choose. And you can choose to not be in them anymore, too. 

Friendships (like all things in life, really) are all about the balance. If you are the one constantly providing support (or time or money or invitations to hang out or whatever else your friendship is based on) and never receiving any, I'd say it's time to find someone more worthy of your attention. I believe that people are inherently selfish, and that that is as it should be, but we cannot exist on this planet without making some emotional connections, so there has to be some reciprocity in order for a friendship to make it through the (hopefully) long haul that is life. If you were there for someone during their worst moments and they can't even be bothered to give your major life experience a social media 'like', the ultimate in lazy acknowledgement, then you know that friendship has run its course. And, yeah, that can feel pretty shitty, but I try not to look at it as a waste of time. Ever the optimist/realist, I recognize the value that person once added to my life, and I move on.  

As an aside, social media platforms have certainly made the friendship-fade more difficult. Seeing an old friend pop up on a current friend's profile can be disconcerting, not to mention how upset people can get about getting deleted, as if being deleted from someone's social media friends list has any bearing whatsoever on one's value as a human being.   

I try to live my life not expecting anything from anyone. This way it is almost impossible to be disappointed, and I am frequently pleasantly surprised by the kindness of others. And I'd like people to not expect anything of me, either; I can't let you down that way, and I really don't want to let anyone down if I can help it. 

It's not easy, of course. I hold the truly important people in my life to a higher standard than I do the mere acquaintances. There are a great many more acquaintances in my life than friends. (Part defense mechanism, part emotional evolution?) Or rather, because I know a lot of amazing human beings who bring something positive to my life and who definitely qualify under the moniker "friend," a great many more friends than people I would kill for. I would kill for a very select few. The rest of you are on your own.  

So if once upon a time, we were friends and now we aren't, I'd like you to know that I'm glad I knew you, and I hope that you are happy and have at least a few people in your life who you would kill for, because we can't do it all alone, as much as that thought appeals to me. Ah well, and riot on.