The quality of friendship
I don't hang out with friends very often. I moved away from Pennsylvania in 1993, leaving behind my childhood and/or college friends. I lived in Oregon for eight years, during which I made many friends, but then I moved away from there as well. Since I have lived in Arizona, I've made some more friends, but once you have children, it's far more difficult to hang out with anyone. But I still love my friends, even though I hardly ever see them. But then there's Facebook, which I don't really like but allows me to see what's up with some people I rarely see.
But what makes a friend? I have some friends with whom I have been close for decades. These are childhood friends and high school friends. Obviously, none of them live in Phoenix, so I don't see them that often. I would love to see them more often, but of course I'm probably not moving back to Pennsylvania anytime soon in this economy. Back in June, when I visited my parents, I saw some friends from high school who I hadn't seen since graduation. I loved seeing them, and I feel like we reconnected with them. Do they still count as friends? I consider them so, even if I've missed the past 20 years. Seeing them, however, made the years fall away, and it was like no time had passed. I'm sure that's not a unique sensation, but there it is. These are the people you can say absolutely anything to, because you've known them for so long and shared so much with them. I can send some of my friends an e-mail with the subject line "Have some!" and a body of "I sang with Aqueduct Pocket!" and they'll laugh and know exactly what I'm talking about. These are people that I did school projects with and made drunken videotapes with (well, I wasn't drunk, but someone may have been). They are people I will love forever.
Then, of course, there are the people I met once I left high school. Some are college friends, but I really didn't make a lot of friends in college. There's only three, actually, that I still keep in touch with, and I married one of those. I still correspond with one person I met in Australia, and I'm glad I still count her among my friends. When we moved to Portland, I met more people, and still consider many of them friends. Some of them were co-workers, but there were also people I met in conjunction with graduate school. I don't share the intimacy of a long-time friend with some of those friends, but I still think of them as dear friends. One, in particular, became friends with both Krys and I, and we miss her terribly (especially as she moved to England recently). Then, we moved to Arizona. I still have friends from when I worked, but it's been a while since I had a job, so I simply don't have as many people as I'm close to here. I consider Mia's home therapists friends, which again might sound odd, but they've been so intimately connected to our lives for so long that I don't think that's too much of a stretch. Perhaps they don't feel the same way, but that's okay.
In today's connected world, there are people on-line that, weirdly enough, I consider friends, even if we've never met. I know more about Roger, for instance, than many people I've met, because he updates his blog every day (man, I couldn't do that even when I first started blogging!) and shares a great deal about his life. I've actually met Tom and Tim and even eaten meals with both gentlemen, but I know them largely through their blogs. Are these people "friends"? Maybe they don't think so, but I think of them as such. Maybe that makes me strange. But I think of people I haven't seen in years and years as friends (the longest I've gone without seeing a friend, currently, is 17 years), so why not people I know only through the Internet?
My point is that friends appear very weirdly in life. Perhaps I consider more people friends than most and ought to think in terms of acquaintances (I have those, too). But I also love having friends. Krys has fewer than I do, and she has always said that she doesn't need as many as I do. I suppose that's true, but it's not like I need friends around me all the time, as I would think the fact that I live 2000 miles away from most of them proves. In today's world, it's even difficult to be friends with people even if you live close to them - so much takes precedent in life, and children really do take up a great deal of time. I don't know how often I'd see my friends if I lived near them - more than I do now, of course, but definitely not as often as I might expect. But that doesn't matter too much. What matters is that when I get the opportunities, I can reach out to a great many people and share my life, and they can share theirs without either of us worrying about embarrassment. I've gotten more sentimental in my dotage, but I've always been a bit that way when it comes to my friends. I love them all, and although I wish I could see them more often, I'm happy that we're still connected, even after all these years and across all these miles.
I'm not really sure what the point of this post was. Except that my friends should read my damned blog and leave comments. Sheesh, like they have lives or something!