Sunday, December 04, 2005

Friends, Lovers & Others

I remember friends I met in kindergarten who are no longer in my life, separated by time, distance, or dispute. Friends can provide a buffer between family, school, and church. Honest and true are those who pace the floor while their best friend is in surgery, housesit when their friend is on vacation, or visiting family in their hometown. Lifelong friends are ambrosia and wine on a banquet table in unpredictable lives of love, loss, triumphs, and temporary setbacks.

I long for the time I once again have balanced and rewarding friendships. I’ve had too many friendships where I’ve been the father, big brother, or mentor, or oftentimes all in one. It’s emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausting to be on all the time. I want to be taken care of as I’ve taken care of others. I earnestly believe I was born to teach and lead, yet I yearn for others who know more than I do, and are willing to teach me.

I know there are no guarantees in life, and it’s doubly so in platonic friendships. Friendships are in essence (sexless) relationships that must be maintained and nurtured regularly. I’ve expelled all fair-weather friends and colleagues from my life; it’s enough dealing with the categorized friendships. I have my writers, artists (actors, dancers, former models, and musicians), international yet deeply rooted in America, and internationals who have no desire to become Americanized.

Imagine the ringmaster skills needed when bringing these various personalities together under one roof for a birthday party or other social occasion. The writers and both international groups might look down upon the actors or dancers, the musicians might frown upon the models, and the models might try to hog the floor in a desperate attempt to attract attention.

It might be easier to use a GPS system to keep track of the various partygoers and steer them in the right direction in an attempt to stimulate conversation that might not otherwise take place.

I have been fortunate, I think, to have had an assortment of friends throughout my life thus far. Friends at school are different from friends outside of school. There’s inherent competition with classmates as friends. In junior high, I graduated second in my class, not because of my GPA; I would have graduated valedictorian, save for an unsatisfactory in conduct. The band director gave me a “U” in conduct for being mouthy. There I sat in the counselor’s office having forgotten (erased?) what I said or did to the band director while a classmate-cum-friend flashed his toothy smile at the news he’d graduate number one in our class.

I stumbled through my salutatorian’s address on graduation day. I saw red. I flashbacked to my former (and still) smart mouthed self: Why couldn’t you have shut up? My schoolteacher aunt wrote my address for me, having graduated at the top of her high school class years before; she knew what to say on such occasions. We were disappointed for different reasons after the ceremony.

Sometimes friends evolve into lovers, which presents its own challenges. On the flipside of that continuum are lovers who become friends. This isn't advisable for the uninitiated. It’s a delicate balancing act between the past, present, and what the future might hold (relapse back into a romantic relationship of flowers, balloons, and roses). Fire and ice roses are a good source for those who want to soothe ex and current lovers. Everyone has a different ideal lover: steeped in friendship or organic. Organic lovers tend not to be vested in each other beyond the honeymoon stage of meeting and dating. A number of people are impulsive and patient, going from one lover to the next, and back between, trying to create an instantaneous picturesque relationship.

Where do those fit in our lives if not a platonic friend or lover? In this electronic age of cyber chatrooms, online message boards, and dating websites, some people reach out to each other through their keyboards, monitors, and cell phones. Some people forge an electronic relationship with people they’ll never meet. Married men reach out to married or single women online, and vice versa, because they don’t feel fulfilled at home, and unable to communicate said deficiencies to their mate.

Then there are people from the office who hover between professional and personal relationships. The office worker whose desk overflows with live plants, family photos, trinkets from theme parks and past national and international vacations, and a variety of coffee mugs. I've worked a few places where I've forged relationships that teetered on a fine line. The relationships were ripe with frustation and/or confusion. Most co-workers will allow enough access to their personal lives.

No comments: