In the shower this morning I was thinking of an old friend – not such a good friend anymore, although once very close. If you don’t make an effort to stay in touch with someone, you drift apart. And I admit, with this friend, I made an concentrated effort to not stay in touch. Perhaps easier for me than some, because we move around a lot – and so do our friends. I know people go through difficult periods and maybe that was the case with this friend. But one of the last times I saw this person, after being invited to their house for a vacation (quite a distance away from mine), my friend was miserable and downright rude to me. And I know now that my friend was very angry at the world at the time – but how was it okay for that translate into abusing a long-term friendship? I remained polite but at that point decided not to invest any more time in the relationship.
The older I get, the less I want false friends. Perhaps no one ever does (want false friends) but people sure do have them. Whether by ignorance, compassion or perhaps just to have more charms on their bracelet. ‘Friend’ is an exclusive group in my life. I’m pretty picky (and glad to be). Then there are those who are always playing the “prove you are my friend” card. I have had friends like that in the past. They ask you to do ridiculously inconvenient things for them to prove your loyalty. And then often retaliate with ‘if you were really my friend’ when you say no. I have no “prove it to me” friends now and that’s not an accident. If you were really my friend, you wouldn’t try to manipulate me. I learn from my mistakes. Which is a good thing.
I suppose that the reason I am so choosy when it comes to my friends is that they become my family. I live a good 3,000 miles away from anyone who is blood. And I want my friends to be part of my family, my inner circle if you will. The outer circle? The players always change and don’t become more, because it’s nothing more than small talk. I just don’t do small talk. Those people don’t really care how you are, they expect you to just say ‘fine’. Watch their eyes glaze over when you start to tell them how you really feel when they ask how you are. Then there are those who engage in small talk, just until they can get to the real point. Don’t waste my time like that. Tell me what you came for and I’ll say yes or no. Or, if you don’t want anything from me, but also don’t care about how I am or what’s going on in my life – don’t ask. I don’t have time for shit that’s not real. It’s like McKee says: Write the Truth. Well, live the truth, too.
I guess many people don’t even tell themselves the truth. They avoid uncomfortable things and delude themselves so they don’t have to change things in their lives. They tell themselves lies when it comes right down to it, so that they can continue living the way they want without guilt. Some of that is laziness, some is selfishness. Some is just denying right from wrong. It’s almost never because of stupidity – it’s a complex subliminal action. Because it’s an easy life if you don’t spend a lot of time thinking critically of your own actions and reactions. Easy for you, at least. Some people just avoid making decisions – preferring to let things happen to them. That way, they have no responsibility themselves for any outcomes. It all happened “to” them, they didn’t create it. So their delusion lives, and thrives. We are all the masters of our own fate, but most would rather not be. I was this told a long time ago and always remembered it. Not acting on something IS a decision (albeit a passive one) – while at the same time the person is able to deflect any responsibility for the outcome. I have compassion for these people when I meet them and try to chant for them. Because it can’t be nice to spend your life thinking things just happen to you and you have no recourse.
But back to friends. I went for a long forest walk today with an old friend I worked with at a Vancouver film school. In fact, I’ve often said she’s probably (in a universe sent me type way) the reason I ever worked there. We walked four and a half miles through some gorgeous forest and talked and talked and talked. And I have a breakfast scheduled Saturday with another old friend (met at the same workplace, which I left over a dozen years ago). The Saturday buddy came to San Miguel to visit on our first foray there (2006-ish?) and I’m sure she’ll get to Cuernavaca so we can do Mexico City together. I’m very grateful for friends who remain friends despite the distance and make the effort to visit, be it in their backyards or mine. And there are the Vancouver friends I missed on this trip – and I do feel badly. But hope to catch up with them next time, with apologies (my friend Mad, specifically, and a few others – I will see you next time, God willing and the creek don’t rise.)
At times, it may be difficult to tell what is actually an honest effort at maintaining a friendship and what is just convenience. Well, for some, maybe, but not for me, LOL. I was just saying to Charlie that one advantage to living in Cuernavaca for a year before we go to Mexico City is to weed out the friends of convenience. We’ll be a very convenient couple to visit once we’re in Mexico City. But not so convenient in Cuernavaca (although only 50 miles out of the city, that 50 miles makes it an expensive cab ride to the airport). For the most part, if you don’t make the effort to visit us in Cuernavaca, don’t be surprised if you aren’t invited to Mexico City. Now, to be fair, some of you I know can’t just pick up and go whenever. But it will be easy to tell who’s who. It’s a Scorpio thing.
I *like* having friends (despite what it sounds like). I really do. I just got an email announcement that some dear friends are expecting their second baby – and that will keep me buoyed all day. I love the friends I do have. I guess that’s part of it – I want real friends. Not friends I simply tolerate for the sake of being around someone. I guess that’s part of it too. I like being alone, when I am alone. I have no problem with it. I can be silent too, for long periods of time and that’s not a problem. I’ve always learned more by listening than talking. And I’ve noticed that people who don’t like to be alone seem to talk to hear their own voices when they get around people. I had a sister like that, rest her soul. Are there voices in their heads if they are silent? I don’t mean the kind that tell you to do bad things. I mean the kind of inner voice that tries to reason with you. Maybe it’s the voice that wants you to make active decisions instead of passive ones, so it’s beaten back by talking. Please don’t talk to me and say nothing. Sit with me and say nothing if you like.
Kind of short, but take it where you get it. I’m on the road in three days and won’t be as chatty again until April. While I’m gone, be kind to each other and practice being a good friend. It will reward you in ways you can’t imagine. I leave you with another old song about old friends. I bet you were all expecting Bette. Remember: Canta, no llores.