I know, I know. I need to stop with the thinking and get back to writing about writing – and I will. Next week. Promise. In the meantime, you can (and should) view this post as a writing exercise. It’s basically totally free-written, which means that it’s raw and I’m writing what I think as it comes out and not really editing much. It’s all a thought to get down.
Next, I want to preface this post by saying that I have a lot of really great friends and, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m proud of them and I kind of like to brag about them when they do awesome things (or even when they don’t). This drives people crazy (a lot of things I do drive people crazy), but if you are my friend and you’re good to me, I will be one of the most loyal friends you have, doing whatever I can to help you out.
My last post generated quite a bit of traffic and resulted in several conversations regarding Facebook friends – deleting them, blocking them, ignoring them. I started thinking about how much I absolutely hate to lose friends and how I work hard at keeping my friendships. If I grow apart from some people, particularly those I never see (it’s inevitable), I feel okay, as long as I still talk to them sometimes and still consider them a friend. I’m obviously not going to be really close to everyone, but even with those friends with whom I don’t hang out very often (“often” to me these days is 4-5 times a year or more), I try to at least keep in touch periodically. I send a text or leave a Facebook comment to say hello or something just to let them know I haven’t forgotten about them. Last night I was thinking about the old saying “Friendship is a two-way street,” and while I agree, I started thinking beyond that. I think friendship is a six-lane highway.
I’m driving down this highway. When I’m out in the right lane, I’m keeping in touch with people I might only talk to every now and again and barely ever see. In the middle lane, I’m making connections with the people I talk to periodically and hang out with every once in a while. The left lane moves the fastest, obviously (or, hopefully it is), and those are the people I’m always calling, texting, IMing, emailing, and hanging out with. Things are busy on my side of the road because apparently I’m driving all over the place (for no apparent reason?). It’s okay. It’s my road. It’s not my side of it that I’m worried about.
Sometimes I get tired of driving. I get tired of initiating conversations. I get tired of making plans. I start to feel bad about inviting myself places and it’s not that I think my friends care because, at least for some of them, I’m confident that they want to hang out with me, but I really do wish that people came to visit me, too. I think I’m developing a complex about the fact that no one will. I get that I don’t live in the world’s most interesting place, but isn’t the purpose to spend time with a friend? My friends could live dead in the center of a cornfield and even though I hate snakes, I would still drive there and run through it to hang out with them. At some point when the car runs out of gas and when I’m looking at those other three lanes on the opposite side of the median strip (interpret that however you like, it could represent any number of things) and there are no other cars for miles, I have to wonder who’s going to be around without my having to hunt them down. Sometimes I just want someone to initiate plans or conversation or something. After a while, it gets boring and tiresome driving on the road by yourself.
And before someone says (in their head or to me) “Maybe some of your friends just don’t really like you,” I just want to make it clear that I’ve obviously considered that (and for my readers who know me, you know that I’ve considered that because that’s just the way I operate). If that’s true, that’s fine. I just wish those people would tell me why they are avoiding me. This sounds ridiculous, but one of the fastest ways to make me irritated at you is to not answer my text messages or emails. That drives me insane. I don’t care if it takes a few hours or if you have to just send a quick one to say “busy now, but I’ll get back to you later,” but to totally ignore them feels like I just walked up to you, said something or asked you a question, and you averted your eyes and walked away. I always answer my text messages, even if you say something stupid to me. I don’t care. (I like stupid most of the time.) I’ll acknowledge that I’ve received it. If more than a few hours go by and I haven’t acknowledged it, it’s safe to assume that I’m either seriously wounded, dead, or avoiding you for a specific reason (which is probably why I feel that when people ignore me, I must have done something to them). Technology makes it so easy to stay in touch that I feel like it’s almost justified that I have at least one friend who isn’t going to be a friend much longer, and mostly for this reason. It sounds silly, but what’s the difference, really? Any way you slice it, it’s all the same message. Not answering me for a day makes me scowl a bit in your direction. Not answering me for 2 months makes me feel that I have every reason to believe we’re not really friends until you tell me otherwise. No one is that busy or that important.
Back in the early spring, I wrote a post very similar to this one. I blatantly stated, as I recall, that I was tired of always being available because I felt like people were taking me for granted. After that post, I started backing off of mostly everyone. I signed off of AIM first, which was a big deal since I was on it 24/7 basically for about 10 years. Always there. I only get on now when I’m trying to find someone or when someone asks me to be there. I stopped texting people for a while. For a while I even tried to stop making plans. I started reading and writing more. A few of my friends appeared to have caught on to what I was doing and they got in touch with me. I’m relatively certain some of the others still don’t get it. I used to talk to them all the time, but now that they have to put in more effort than sending an IM, it appears that they usually can’t be bothered. But at least I got results (there was more to all of that, but I’m not going into it).
So I guess that this is all a long-winded way of saying that I’m starting to feel the same way again. I’ve come to realize that maybe a lot of it is that I consider some people to be closer friends to me than I am to them or that I care more (too much?) than some of my friends do. Maybe I just need to level with everyone. Or maybe they need to level with me. I don’t know. Do I think all my friends are jerks? Absolutely not. Obviously. Am I claiming that I’m the greatest friend ever? Not a chance. I can be a jerk, too. I think it’s all about making sure you’re a good friend more than you’re a jerk (or more than you’re non-existant and waiting for me to do everything). Now that I’ve gotten this out of my system though, look for me to get back to writing about writing next week because…. I’ve started writing again (in addition to editing the novel).