January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment
January 12, 2013 § 1 Comment
I live in the upstairs of a big, old house, and through my kitchen window, I have a perfect view of the tree canopies and the wildlife that dwell there. The trees are bare, now. It is winter, and the morass of gaunt, quavering tree branches shroud the chrome sky like an ancient, unfurling tapestry. I love the quiet mettle of every living thing during winter. The songbirds who stay are nothing but quiet, however. Despite the cold, the grey, the buttoned up-ness, they flitter about, hopping from shadowy perch to shadowy perch, singing madly. There is always cause for jubilation, they remind me, even when the day is grim.
June 18, 2012 § 2 Comments
Today, Samantha Stein, a long time, faraway friend of mine told me to write about long distance friendships for 60 minutes. Here goes.
Friends come and go. You learn that pretty quickly, even if it takes awhile to sink in. It’s one of the those bitter pills of wisdom your parents give you, even if you don’t ask them for it. You watch them gaze wistfully toward the flat line in the distance, and their words trail off into the descending melancholic pall they’ve cast. But you don’t really listen, say, when you’re younger and you’re in the midst of a particularly prosperous social juncture teeming with friends and acquaintances and all sorts of spirited gatherings that affirm your personal value and validity (even if most of those friendships and acquaintanceships are as hollow and rickety as the pyramid of empty beer cans you built). Because your parents were never as cool as you are, so you think. And your parents never had as many friends as you do, so you think. And I will keep up with all my friends, so you think.
And then high-school ends. And everyone scatters off to college. And then you transfer colleges. And then you go abroad for a semester. And then you take a semester off. And then you transfer colleges again. And then you have an identity/existential crisis and you get a job slinging booze and gout-conducive fare at a restaurant. And then, eventually, maybe, you go back and you graduate. Then you get a different job. Then you have another crisis. And you go to grad school. Then you get a different job. And through all of that, by sheer physics, you’ve made friends and left most of them behind (and they, you).
But you say, by God, that you’ll keep in touch. Because everything in the moment feels eternal somehow, because your immediate consciousness can’t or refuses to admit that whatever’s defining you one moment will evaporate like a dream does upon waking to make room for the things that will define you later. And you’ll genuinely try to keep in touch if they are good friends–people who enriched your life, whose spirit wove itself into yours, who helped keep you afloat and who didn’t drag you down into their personal dramas, people who climbed out of their own egos on occasion and really absorbed you and your experience and helped you and, more importantly, were mindful of how their actions affected you and who apologized if they lapsed into carelessness. Those are the ones you try to keep in touch with.
But long distance friendships are difficult. Not because of a lack of tools. There are a surplus of tools in our lives. Email. Facebook. Smart phones. Skype. Er, letters? It’s almost impossible not to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances of chapters past. Long distance friendships are difficult, rather, because they’re common, and in my case, as common if not more common than immediate friendships. We’re so mobile these days. (God, I hate that phrase, “these days”). We’ve been uber mobile for awhile now. We’re pretty used to it. It’s expected. Families rarely occupy the same house anymore, let alone the same state, region, or country, and they’re the ones who are supposed to stick around while others come and go. It’s a modern norm. So it’s common to have friends and family you don’t see on a daily, monthly, yearly basis. And hitched to that reality, like all realities, is a trailer full of subsequent emotion.
In my case, long distant friendships are rife with bittersweetness. I have several friends–very dear friends from different places, different jobs, schools, experiences–whom I never see. They are far flung, across the state, across the nation, across the globe. They exist almost exclusively in the disembodied form of words in an email or message box, a voice on the telephone, or pixels in a digitally uploaded image. In a way, this is nice. Almost every correspondence is meaningful and laced with sincere, open-hearted “Remember whens”, “I miss yous”, and “I wish you were heres”. There is no bogging down, no growing weary of the friction-building day-to-day vicissitudes of each others’ quirks or habits or moods, no conflict (typically), and thus, no attending emotional messiness. There’s only pristine sharing and support… Okay, usually. There’s usually pristine sharing and support. There are always exceptions.
But no matter the frequency or depth of our contact, how uplifting it is to know that we’ve beaten the odds, that my long-distance friend(s) and I have done a sterling job managing our relationship, of keeping it honest and healthy, no matter how immediately gratifying it is to connect via online instant chats, emails, or phone calls, it still feels as though I’ve lost them, that they are ghosts, forever estranged from my world and I theirs.