Wednesday, April 28, 2010

MUSING ON FRIENDSHIP

"Friendship is like a prism through which the many variations of beauty are revealed in our lives."
anon.


Friendship has always been important to me.  I may be a rock but I'm not the proverbial "island". I have been blessed with wonderful friends.  At times I have been cursed with less wonderful ones.  My friends are an eclectic, mismatched bunch of very good people.  


I have a long list of acquaintances but my inner circle is a rather short list.  When I give a dinner party for that "inner circle" we fit nicely at a table for twelve.  There is no messiah and there may be no holy grail but there is surely a Mary Magdalene, a Peter and a Paul.  There is probably even a Judas.  


My dearest friends are from all walks of life from electrician to best-selling author, from mini golf partner to producer and from stay at home mom to a boozy chanteuse.  Let's not leave out the chubby gay married guys who argue like the couple from Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf. The conversations are wild and head-spinning.  I love each of them for their individuality and strength, devotion and foibles.  





Being a full time caregiver has shaken some low-hanging fruit from my tree of friends.  I may not be as much fun as I was when I was younger and carefree. I certainly cannot be spontaneous.  My friend time has to be planned and much of it has been reduced mostly to phone calls and emails but its value certainly has not been diminished.  


I had one friend from high school with whom I shared nearly thirty years of my life.  We were so close for so long that our other friends regarded us as an old married couple.  I think we may actually have been closer than many married couples.  I saw her though her brief problem with alcohol.  We were there for one another over lost pets.  We vacationed together.  We dined together.  She was by my side through business successes and failures.  


The stresses of my life as caregiver were more than she wanted.  When I could no longer travel on a whim or dine out several nights a week, our friendship became a casualty.  To put it directly, she abandoned me.


Another of my wonderful friends has been there for me forever.  We are family.  When times are good we laugh and celebrate.  When times are bad we are one another's rock.  Lucy is the lucky recipient of my many phone calls from the emergency room.  When she got married I was the luckiest because I got a new best friend in her husband Joe.  Lucy and Joe are quick to offer help and always the first on the scene in a crisis.  Together they gave me the highest honor of being godfather to their first daughter and honorary godfather to the second.  


While some friendships waned others flourished.  One friendship blossomed and grew because we had caregiving in common.  I was well into my role when she was just beginning hers.  When she was overwhelmed with the task at hand a mutual friend suggested she give me a call.  As the local pro I am often called upon for support but this was special.  


Ms. Alice and I had met casually in the past at social or theater functions but we really didn't know one another.  Now through our common bond of caregivers we discovered how much else we had in common.  We are both from theater.  We are both artists.  We are both bitchy.  Most importantly we have the same sense of family and duty.  Not only did we become strong mutual support but most definitely members of our "mutual admiration society". No one understands the life of a caregiver better than another caregiver.


"A true friend is someone who is there for you when he'd rather be anywhere else." 
len wein

Maybe it's that I am of a certain age or maybe it is an eventuality of technology but this past year has been a year of reconnecting with friends from my past.  Somewhere in the early middle years we disconnect from some old, true, loved friends.  No arguments.  No traumatic event.  Some friendships just fade.  We get sidetracked with career choices.  We get preoccupied with building our lives and families.  We meet new friends.  We drift geographically. What doesn't change is the seminal connection we had with our friends.  The good memories are stored and cherished.  These friends were the building blocks of our lives, without whom we would not be who we are at present.  

At fifty we are mostly settled into our lives.  Friends' children are sufficiently grown.  Careers are mostly chugging along.  Few of us have much need to prove ourselves.  We have returned to our roots and our old friends.  There is comfort in old friendships.  We share commonality and secrets.  Perhaps in reconnecting with old friends we are making an effort to reconnect with ourselves.  Maybe we're trying to recapture a bit of our youth.  Maybe we're just more comfortable with ourselves.  

In the past year I reconnected strongly with a girl I went all though elementary and high school with.  We have a strong bond of common past but we also admire the people we have become.  I most recently met with my best friend from high school.  We were inseparable back then.  We shared everything. We grew into men together.  We could have been characters from Summer of 42!

Lawrence became the important doctor we always knew he would.  I found my way though antiques businesses and theater and writing as we knew I would. Twenty years had lapsed with only a brief email now and then until he re-appeared on my doorstep with his bright and lovely daughter.  He had brought her back east to hunt colleges and included a side-trip to his hometown to show her around [and to show her off].  

Twenty years were shed as quickly as anyone could imagine.  We reminisced and laughed and remembered and we were 17 again if only for a few hours.  We have such different lives in different parts of the country but none of that was perceptible.  We looked at one another and saw the kid, the best friend, the mischief-makers that we were.  

Old [good] friends are like that.  Years can pass and you fall right back into rhythms and patterns.  There is great comfort in that.  Within my small circle of friends we know that a little time or distance or even life's interruptions don't matter.  One phone call and we're there for each other.  


"Friendship consists in forgetting what one gives, and remembering what one receives."
dumas, the younger





8 comments:

  1. I love you too, old friend!

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  2. Wow ! every week I look forward to reading your blog, I dont read any other blogs, quite honestly I just learned what a blog was in January when i started reading yours. I find your writing riveting, its like reading a great novel, all are so well written I can't stop until I'm done. I'm only "done" because there is no more to read I would keep reading as long as you were writing, I just cant take my eyes off each sentence!although sometimes what you are writing about may be sad or difficult times it is all so well done it is captivating. Just thought I would share I don't always comment after I've read. :) Love , T

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  3. Wow! Thanks for this! Adore your blogs!

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  4. Fantastic! I enjoy reading your posts, and this one particularly hit home for me as I have recently reconnected with a friend from law school, who has given me the contact information for another good from friend from school, who, through time, we drifted. "We get sidetracked with career choices. We get preoccupied with building our lives and families. We meet new friends. We drift geographically." This was exactly what happened, or maybe that's the way I saw it, and hopefully she saw it the same way. Thanks Chris for sharing and helping me remember!!

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  5. cheryl delavallierreApril 28, 2010 at 11:01 PM

    Another great blog! Always enjoy reading about your experiences, even if planned and not spontaneous anymore! I have always said that people come and go in our lives for different reasons, some stay longer than others, but each leaves a piece of themselves in our hearts, good or bad! We are who we are because of that piece!
    Thanks Christopher for sharing!

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  6. Hey...the friend that abandoned you....i think it was because she WANTED to be an old married couple...you ever think of that, twinnie???
    When's the next party??
    xoxo

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  7. Chris, exactly how I feel with reconnecting with friends from childhood.......there is a bond that cannot be broken by distance, circumstances or commitments. I think we all have a need to feel secure in our comfort zone that comes from those who knew us as we developed into young adults.
    I enjoy your blogs as well and each one leaves me intrigued and curious for the next week~~~~~~keep on sharing as long as the pen has ink (or computer has power, lol).
    Joan Martin Fiore

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  8. Just read the blog. It truly was a great couple of hours for me as well. I felt we picked up right were we left off. I am hoping that she does go to NYC for college and I will be able to visit with you as well as with all my old friends and new ones from FB easier. Even if she doesn't, I will because life is just too short not to have your friends. It is amazing how those who were not that close during high school are now close. Your thought of being more comfortable with ourselves and who we are now I think is the most important.
    Thanks for the kind words about Meredith. Nothing warms a parent's heart more, especially from someone whose opinion you value.
    Lawrence, your friend

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