May 242005

I have, in my lifetime, been blessed with a multitude of wonderful friends. I am often awed by how fortunate I am in that regard. Some people go their entire lives without ever having more than a handful of important people in their lives, but I’ve had so many that I would be hard pressed to put an actual number on them.

In my life, though, it has been proven to me time and time again that friendships are cyclical. At least when it comes to the amount of time you spend with each other. We weave in and out of each others lives like the tides, sometimes distant and withdrawn and other times up close and personal. I can look back at my life and see periods of time when I was basically associated as one member of a group and it seemed like the people I was hanging out with were inseparable from me. Now? I hardly speak to them. My feelings for them haven’t changed, and at times I can almost physically feel their absence, but for some reason we have moved on to some extent and drifted apart. For all I know at some point in the future we will be close again.

Such is life.

Live Journal has added an interesting layer to this phenomenon. As easy as it is to remain in contact with your friends through this medium, it is still possible to drift apart. As I read my friends list I am often stricken by the realization that someone I am reading used to be a person who I talked to every day. Now? The only contact I have with them is through Live Journal, and at times I miss things because of skimming posts. Let’s be honest here, too. It’s made me lazy. I am, more and more, relying solely on Live Journal to keep in touch with the people in my life. This isn’t such a good thing when not everyone you know reads your Live Journal. Of course, there are several of my friends who read this and never comment on it, which is kind of spooky really. Nothing quite like having a conversation with someone and realizing that they know more about your current situation then they thought you did. Not to mention the momentary shock of “holy crap, did I say something about them in here that I shouldn’t have???” Sad, but true.

When friends drift apart, it’s generally a very subtle thing. Daily contact turns into weekly, weekly turns into monthly, and the next thing you know you haven’t seen them in a year. When you realize that it’s disconcerting, but not necessarily something that comes across as a shock to the system. When it’s sudden and unexpected, though, it can throw you for a loop. This has happened to me several times, and when it does it’s…painful. There is no other way to put it. The closest feeling I can relate it to is the one that I felt when my wife left me without giving me a solid reason. It brings forth the worst kind of self-depreciation, because without an explanation one can only assume that it’s their fault. That is, if the person in question is anything like me. “What is wrong with me?” you ask. “Aren’t I good enough? What did I do wrong?”

There was a time when this would have remained with me and pushed me into a deep depression. I’ve progressed beyond that, but not completely to the point when I can say “Hakuna Matata” and walk away. Now I get angry. Not the most mature response, I know, but hell…All things being good and well in the world I’ll live at least another 40 years. I’ve still got time to completely get rid of all my childish emotions. Why do I get angry, though? Because, when this happens, I still internalize it. I still feel like the person is saying something is wrong with me. I feel like I’m being judged and that the verdict is “Not Worthy Of My Time.”

And if there is one thing that still gets my goat, it’s being judged. My life hasn’t been the hardest, and I’ve made my share of stupid mistakes. I am not the wisest. I am not the smartest. I am not the prettiest. I am not the richest. I am not even the fattest. Not anymore, anyway. I don’t even know if I’m any kind of “ist.” I’m just…me. And as a general rule, I’m pretty happy with my life the way it is. So when someone looks down their nose at me (or when I read their actions as doing so), it really gets under my skin. Which, obviously, makes the times when we do bump into each other quite awkward. From my end anyway. Despite my rage I’m still the reconciler. Still the nice guy that doesn’t want to have confrontations. So I swallow it and put on a happy face and try not to let on how angry I am.

Or how hurt.

Anger…hurt…Often times two sides of the same coin.

These things make me even more grateful for the people in my life who just want me to be me. Who like and accept me the way I am, even if they don’t always like or agree with the things I say or do. People who, regardless of the time you spend apart from them, always feel like that pair of comfortable jeans. When you talk to them it’s instantly comforting and familiar.

I’m not sure if they would be entirely cool with being related to a piece of worn out clothing, but there it is.

If you are someone that truly considered yourself to be a friend of mine and you feel as though I cut you out of my life with no explanation, I do apologize. It sucks, and I hate when it’s done to me. Obviously I would hope that I’ve never done it to anyone else, but my perception and theirs could be entirely different. If I have, and you’d like to tell me, please do so – but not here. This isn’t the place I want to air out my possible differences with someone who means something to me. I can’t promise that I’ll have a good reason for it, or that once the lines of communication are back open they will stay that way, but if I’ve left you dangling I’ll do what I can to at least pull you back up on the ledge.

And, yet again, to all of my friends – Thank you. I noticed something in the mirror the other day. When I smile, I have HUGE crows feet around my eyes. They make me look much older. You know what, though? I’ll wear them with pride. They are the result of a million smiles and as many or more laughs, and a good portion of them came from some of you. There have been times when I couldn’t stand on my own, but just knowing you all were out there made it possible to carry on. And, sometimes, you even carried me yourselves. Even if we have never met in person, if I called you my friend I meant it, and you were something important to me. In some way, you always will be

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