The past couple years have been interesting. Its like there is a revolving door with some people entering while others exit. My husband and I have been married for almost five years. In the early years of our marriage we often had friends over for barbecues in the backyard. These were rather large affairs with our last guests sometimes departing at 3am or later (or earlier, depending on how you look at it).
We’ve both been through so many changes between our work life during the past two years. I was always the girl that had to be doing something. Hubby likes to stay in. I like to go out. I used to always be the one to plan the office get togethers. It had even earned me the title ‘Queen Bee’. People actually started coming to me to find out what was going on after work at one point.
As my husband and I entered our 40s, something definitely changed. There seems to be more of a craving for solitude these days than anything else. I do believe the change came when the economy took a downturn. Our efforts went from ‘who will we have over for drinks this weekend’ to ‘lets develop a game plan on how we’ll pay the mortgage this month.’ I don’t think I realized how dependent I was, or how whole I felt when I was surrounded by people. Little did I realize then that time alone was really was what I needed –not necessarily wanted.
Lately though I’ve been in really deep thought about how friendships evolve. I have a few best friends from childhood that I know we will always be a part of each other’s lives for as long as we live. Then there are those that you meet randomly through other friends or through a job. These seem to be the friends that are only there for a season. I still have a framed picture of myself with two girlfriends on a trip to Mexico during the summer of 2002. That was one of the last times I had seen either. Then, new job and new friends. The cycle repeats. Looking back makes me feel like an archeologist excavating layers of my life and friendships. I don’t know why some stay while others go. And yet it works both ways; why do I hold onto some while others I let float away?
I have a friend who is generous and kind. She really has helped out with some kind words and advice and just all around good deeds the past year while my husband was laid off from work several times. However, now that things are getting better, I noticed that the distance between she and I seems to be growing. We used to email each other several times during the day and now I’m lucky if I get a response. I have found a few times when I talk about something positive that’s happened then she retorts with something negative. I don’t get that. Is it possible that my vulnerability in the first place is what made me seem like an attractive friend to her? Or is it that people come into our lives for a reason and for a season? Maybe this season is turning.
In my late 20s I met a man named Robert. Robert and I became instant best friends. It was a strictly plutonic relationship. He still lives in Boston, where I’m from originally, too, and although we hadn’t talked like we used to, we are the type of friends that can pick up where we left off. My husband met Robert a few years ago over Guinesses on a visit back east. Much to my happiness, they hit it off like they too were old friends. Last Friday Robert called while I was at work. We started in on a conversation that we both were quite familiar with; his love life. There was a deju vu to this conversation. A different woman but the same problem. Suddenly I am back in that three-decker Boston apartment, haunted as all get out, with my feet propped up against the old farmer’s chair. The familiarity, the whole volley of our speech, is like it is engrained to every thread of my being. These friends are the types of people that hold lives together.
Last week I went into my Facebook account and took inventory. Anyone local who I had not spoken to outside of a computer in more than a year I cut lose. It was beginning to get a bit awkward. So do I still comment on their status even if we don’t talk? I just cut the cord. It took a long time to do because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but in the end it just felt right. I was beginning to feel like a stranger observing the lives of others I used to know who were now becoming strangers themselves.
Tuesday evening Robert called again. He was actually crying this time. Another old friend of ours has been battling cancer. Although I hadn’t seen this friend as well in years, I still could never bring myself to delete his number out of my cell. I broke down and cried, too. “Why is it we let go of a good friend,” Robert cried. “Why do we let this happen and lose touch? Can’t we just pick up the phone?”
“You’re right,” I said, through my tears. “We are all guilty of it.”
The next day I texted Robert to see how he was. He had a date scheduled with a girl he just met and promised to let me know how things work out. I started thinking again about how some friends were moving out and some were now moving in, and I felt this hole that was beginning to form in the fabric of my friendships close again. When I opened up Facebook that afternoon, I saw that Robert had joined and had sent me a ‘Friend Request.’
I gladly accepted.