27 August 2008

Neue Fruende

~German, new friend. (may not be spelled correctly. Its been a loooong time since my last German class.)

This is the usual Tuesday post, brought to you a few days late courtesy of a hectic, crazy schedule that does not allow nearly enough time to write.

In Girl Scouts (yes, yes, yes, get over it, I was a Girl Scout) we used to sing a song that went:

Make new friends
But keep the old
One is silver
The other is gold

I've made a few new friends recently....local ones, believe it or not....who are great women that I feel thrilled to have met. Some of them share my knitting obsession hobby, one shares my love of the German language, all of them are diverse and interesting folks.

It seems, though, that this comes at the expense of losing one old friend. Which is heartbreaking. And it stops me in my tracks, too. Typing that sentence, and then re-reading it leaves me at a loss for words.

Y'all know how rarely that happens, right?

Suffice to say that I never ever name names here, and she isn't a regular reader of Well Behaved, but she'd know who she was by reading this. By 'an old friend' I mean one that I've had since before high school. Seventh or eighth grade, I'm not even sure which. One of those friends for whom a word or a phrase or even a facial expression bring back memories, evoke a particular time and place. Someone who was there with me during that part of my journey that involved such a confusing time, adolescence, who walked along the same road I did, who was someone for a long time that was the first person I talked to (outside of the fam, natch) each day, and often the last person I talked to before going to bed. Remember that point at which you spent hours on the phone each day, and your parents would ask, "You were in school together all day. What could you possibly have to talk about for 2 hours?" And you'd roll your eyes and say, "Mooooooom, you just don't get it." One of those friends. If I've known her since seventh grade, then this is someone I've been friends with for twenty years.


Anyway. Over the last ten years, she's drifted further and further away, until I would see her only twice a year, maybe. We'd exchange e-mails, and talk on the phone, but it wasn't the same as it had been. Which was sad, but kind of inevitable when you're living more than 500 miles apart, and your lives take pretty divergent directions. That's sometimes called growing up. But the shared experience of youth often keeps those friendships alive even when there isn't much else two friends share outside of that anymore. I always felt that she was just as concerned? Maybe that's not the right word. I always thought that she was as interested in keeping the friendship alive as I was. Because we all know that any relationship, be it friend, significant other, sibling, requires some work by both parties involved.

It has been a slow process, but over the last two years, I've realised that she just....isn't. Interested at all. I've put forth the effort, and the response I've received has been resounding silence. She has family here in Oh-hia-ia, so I know she's in town several times a year. Her Facebook page keeps me up to date with what she's doing....but even there, she was friended with my younger sister (who she didn't really like when we were kids) long before she deigned to friend me.

And I don't like that I find out from Facebook that she's in town. Here's why: my telephone number hasn't changed in about 15 years. Seriously. I've had a cell phone since 1994, and even when all the phones went digital, (remember that?) I kept the same number. I had to fight with the wireless provider, but I managed to retain that number. I've even changed carriers, and kept the same number. Ten digits. Not so much to remember. Or even if you do forget them, the rest of the high school crowd knows that my number is still the same. Call one of them. Send me an e-mail. Hell, even call DH, you've got his number, too.

I joke frequently about our electronic gadgets making idiots of us all. I don't remember phone numbers well these days. My phone has the ability to save lots of speed dial numbers, so most of the people I care about and have frequent contact with are speed dials. Wanna call my sister in California? Yeah, she is speed dial 7. What's her number? I dunno. Without my phone, I am hard-pressed to remember all of her digits. But I don't have to remember, the phone does it for me. The gadget is smart enough that if I tag a picture I've taken with the phone with someone's name, by calling up the picture on the screen I can call that person. Amazing shiz, no? I even have this friend stored as a speed dial.

She was here last week. I know that from Facebook. I even saw her on-line, b/c FB will tell you who of your friends is signed in to the website, and you can instant message them inside of FB. We had a quick 3-4 line chat. I saw on her profile that she was leaving the next day, and I said, hey, we should at least have a drink if not dinner or even just hang out at my house tonight if you're leaving. Cool, she said. I told her that my cell phone doesn't work in my underground office, and gave her the new number at the office. I told her that after 5, the cell phone works fine, and BTW, you've got that number, right? Yeah, she said. I'll call you, she said. Sorry I've been so lame the last few times I've been here, she said. I miss you. Life's busy, and I'm all lazy and stuff when I come to Oh-hia-ia, my family mises me, so it is hard to get together, but I'd really like to see you, she said.

You're shocked to discover that she didn't call, aren't you?

I wasn't surprised, but this time, unlike the other 10 times or so over the last few years, I was hurt.

We haven't had a disagreement. We don't have wildly divergent political or social views. She might even be more liberal than me, so I know the stuff I have on my profile over on Facebook about supporting same-sex-marriage, about how W's an idiot, about my radical feminist ideals, those things aren't offending her. I don't think there's really even a problem, necessarily, other than we've just.....drifted away from each other.

But it feels like a breakup. Like I've been dumped. Like I've been judged and found wanting. Like I'm not cool enough, living in flyover country, to hang anymore. (Although she lives even further in the midwest than I do!) Maybe what I mean there is that because I'm still in our hometown, and haven't moved away like 99.99999% of everyone else we went to school with, that perhaps I'm just not worldly enough. I don't know. It makes me sad. And I despise having to "justify" to someone why I'm still here in the rustbelt. She knows why I'm still here. She knows just about everything about me. And yet, she's walking away.

This time, instead of standing still, looking forlornly back, I'm walking on too. I wish it hadn't come to this, but it seems that I have no other choice.

Were I wise and sagely, I'd have some way to put a perspective on this turning point. I don't. But I do still have great friends from those old days, and a few new ones to fill that hole left by her moving on, new stories to write, new adventures to have with old friends and new.

So often, when my own words fail me, I turn to music to better express what I can not. Although I'm NOT a country music fan, I do like Jimmy Buffett, and this one sums up a little of how I feel about this simultaneous gain and loss.

Hear 'em singing Happy Birthday
Better think about the wish I made
This year gone by ain't been a piece of cake
Every day's a revolution
Pull it together and it comes undone
Just one more candle and a trip around the sun

I'm just hanging on while this old world keeps spinning
And it's good to know it's out of my control
If there's one thing that I've learned from all this living
Is that it wouldn't change a thing if I let go

No, you never see it coming
Always wind up wondering where it went
Only time will tell if it was time well spent
It's another revelation
Celebrating what I have done
With these souvenirs of my trip around the sun

~Jimmy Buffett,
Trip Around the Sun, License to Chill, 2004


MotherMe (who isn't sagely, but likes to pretend) said...

Hey, I remember that song from Girl Scouts.

I'm pretty sure that "keeping" the old doesn't have to mean "keeping in touch". I think it means that you will always take with you what you received from that friendship, whether or not said friendship is currently ... um, active. So maybe you two are moving in concentric circles now, never intersecting. That's okay. That friendship will always be part of you, even if it's part of your past.

Now. Let's rebound with drinks and knitting, shall we?

Erin said...

You already know how I feel about this and all I can say is that I'm grieving with you and moving forward too. *hug*

Cheers to the drinks and knitting rebound idea!