Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Ties That Bind

Am I my brother's keeper? Am I obligated to be a friend to my friend's friend?

Oftentimes friends expect us to follow their lead even when we’ve a gut reaction to the contrary. I think these are a test of the friendship when we have to stand on principle and not be guided down a regrettable path.

My past friends were friends because we shared similar and different beliefs. The friendships I had back in Texas disintegrated because we grew apart emotionally, spiritually, or ties were severed because I relocated to New York. It’s difficult to maintain long-distance love affairs, let alone platonic friendships.

I don’t think I had or have a romantic, swashbuckling idea of friendship, but I think true friends are akin to family. What are those famous friendships on the silver screen? The Goonies, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Breakfast Club, Stand By Me ,The Women of Brewster Place, Brian's Song, or Harry Potter.

I'm aware that people will have differences, arguments, and not speak to each other for days or weeks over silly infractions or misjudgments, but a honest-to-goodness friend will meet you in the middle to repair the riff. Hopefully the bond deepens, and the friends learn more about the other.

I'm blessed to have had and have good and great friends throughout my years in school and as an adult. I thoroughly enjoy friends who are on the same wavelength during a conversation -- more information is communicated than actually said. I like knowing that a friend is calling even before I answer the phone, or that I can send or receive a telepathic message to call; possible between some parents and children if their bond is strong.

A great friend knows as well as, if not better, than you know yourself. A real friend will tell you the truth when no one else will: "I don't think you should wear those parachute pants anymore. They might have been stylish back in college, but they're past their expiration date."

A good friend will let you sleep on their sofa or in La-Z Boy recliner when you've locked yourself out of the house until your roommate returns because you've no wallet and credit card to call the locksmith. A great friend will let you crash at their place just because you need to see another face without question. Besides, these types of friends know instinctively, witnessed by the few seconds of silent direct eye contact and a nod when the opens.

Friendship is knowing when to say you're sorry, and not apologizing when you don't have to because your friend knows they're in the wrong and won't admit it.

It might be morbid to think about dying and death in the prime of life, but as a writer I do wonder what my friends would say during a eulogy. Would I rise up out of the coffin and correct their syntax and grammar? Mind those dangling modifiers and participles, the ghost of the writer/editor intones in a sepulchral voice from the back of the mortuary.

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