Friendship and Other Mysteries

Many of you have seen this post on facebook but at the time I posted it I didn’t think it was finished, I had reached a point where I didn’t know how to finish it, so I just threw it up on a friends post. I think I will expand on it a little and draw it to a close in a more dignified manner.

How do you know when someone is a friend, is there a test to confirm it, are there signs that are positive indicators? or do you just know?

I have always thought that I had a grasp of the friendship basics, and always have thought that I was pretty good at the friend thing, but I have to say that I’m not so sure anymore. Maybe I don’t understand the rules, what are the degrees of friendship, does each come with it’s own set of guidelines and obligations. Is there a handbook that I can pick up somewhere?

Over the years I have tried to stay in touch with those I considered friends, I have listened to their joys and shared tears with their tragedies , I have tried to help when things were tough. I have helped people to move, to paint, get to the airport, I have shoveled snow, fixed any number of broken bits, done home repair, I have lent tools, I have lent money, I have baked and given away hundreds of scones, biscotti, cakes, loaves of bread. I have shared gallons of soup, of chili and bottles and bottles of wine.

Looking back over a lifetime of friendships I have tried to understand the truth about why they came into my life and then disappeared. Divided into time frames of my life, and examined and categorized by the circle they occupied,when all was said and done, after all the introspection, soul searching and self flagellation, the conclusion I have arrived at is that I have meant less to them than they meant to me. What should I do about it? I could avoid some obvious heartache if I could tell when someone would view friendship the same way that I do, although I’m not sure if that is even possible.

Reexamining my assumptions I wonder, am I in fact a good friend? If I’m not, what is it I’m doing wrong, is it the people that I’ve chosen to befriend, is it that I ask too much expect too much, do I give too little?

None of my childhood friends have survived the journey to adulthood, most faded into the mists long ago, the few that remained, perished during my rebirth as Rachel. Hundreds of people that I have worked with, some as long as ten years or more wiped away with a resignation or pink slip. Suddenly relegated to the irrelevance of last years pay stub. More than forty years of neighbors, from three states, eight cities, six houses and four apartments and hardly a single friend in my life from any of them. They were evidently sold with the houses or vacated with the apartments. The list goes on, college friends, church members, choir members, friends from clubs, societies, book clubs, support groups, regulars at bars, friends at coffee shops, friends connected through my former spouse. All have had some limited shelf life and ultimately have spoiled like last weeks leftovers.

Disappearance in a  quick explosion or by a slow fade into obscurity as they pass from friend to sometime acquaintance to “whatever happened to?” The end result is all the same.

In fairness I must say that I have had friends come through for me when I’ve asked, they have saved my life at least once, probably more, they have listened as I cried about the unfairness of life. They have celebrated with me the small triumphs I’ve experienced. they have helped me with last minute moves and I do appreciate the good times we have had over the years. Maybe they came into my life to be there at those moments, maybe I burn them out, maybe I unknowingly push then away.

I am grateful that they were there for me

I would rather they would be here with me.

All in all, it’s still all a mystery to me



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