Thursday, June 05, 2008

Friends, Associates, and Other Tales

What is the definition of a true friend? Is it someone who will always be there for you regardless? Does friendship include an unspoken or unwritten clause of unconditional love? I've never had friends like those portrayed in the movies and on television. Where are my band of friends from Four Weddings and A Funeral? My Thelma and Louise? I've oftentimes wondered if there's a Friendship For Dummies book that I never received, or a class in social etiquette that I opted not to take in college.

Women seemingly make and keep friends longer than most men. I think there's an inherent machismo in male friendships that prevents a close bond between men. In my experience, American friendships are different from international friendships. Southern friendships are different from northern ones. For all the differences, is there any truth in opposites attract?

What about friendships in the animal kingdom where there's less pressure to compete, be the smart one, the funny, or the prettiest one among your friends?
When I brought my second kitten home to provide company for the older cat, there was animosity at first, but it soon faded. Years later, they are respectful of each other's territory and treat each other as sisters. Are there lessons we could learn from our pets or a few episodes of Meerkat Manor?

I gravitated toward classmates in grade school because we shared similar interests or my mother or aunts knew their parents, and we were pushed in each other's direction. I've not been blessed with a best-friend-forever, and perhaps wouldn't know how to adjust to one person having full access to me (thoughts, dreams, concerns, and fears). Or does that hearken back to those scripted friendship movies and TV programs?

I was part of the It Crowd in junior high school. My concerns back then weren't about building lasting friendships wherein I'd fly across the country or world to attend weddings, christenings, and sit beside reading to an injured or comatose friend.

High school was an altogether different beast. There were so many cliques and factions, it made my head swim. Race and ethnicity wasn't an issue for me prior to my sophomore year when transferred to a predominantly white high school. I'd no experience with token or categorized friendships (black, Asian, rich, biker/rebel). One of the more interesting and perhaps sad high school stories involved a girl who up until college application time was white. However, she checked Hispanic on the racial identity box, and the monies and scholarship offers poured in. Imagine her (white) friends' surprise when they discovered she was 1/4 Mexican. It was Houston. Next door to Mexico. It shouldn't have been a surprise that her grandmother was Mexican. To their eyes, she was a fraud, and not a real friend because she had deceived their elitist white sensibilities.

My track record sometimes trouble me because I yearn for mature friendships that are based on realistic expectations: I expect you to be there for me no matter what, and I will do the same for you. I'm done with spoiled brats and fair-weather friends who call or e-mail when they need creative writing, copyediting, or a professional referral.


Sincerae said...

Hi Harlem Writer,

My most lasting, inspiring, and intense friendships have been and still are with people who live or originated abroad (Europe, Africa, and the Middle East), not here in the states.

I had planned to add your blog to my blogroll weeks ago, but the business of life got in the way and I forgot. Finally, I have:)

SerenityLife said...

Hey, Harlem Writer!!

Interesting you wrote about friendship!
In 8th grade I won the friendship award for being the "cool friend" (whatever that means) but I have and have always been loyal to everyone I have known throughout the years.

Recently a good friend from college (I went to an HBCU by the way) who is Japanese American said something to me that was very profound in my eyes. She said, "Jennifer, you have a Japanese spirit and you do not act American in your friendships." I had to ask her what do you mean?

She said that I have always gone out of my way to be friendly to her when she is not as outgoing as I am and I tend to make efforts to be in touch when people least expect it.

I had lost touch with my friend in Japan and I wrote an SOS to a Bahai temple in Japan who actually knew my friend. She was SHOCKED I did that but I missed her.

Good friendships are rare and if you have one don't EVER let go.

Most of my best friendships have been with both sexes so I think it may depend on the personality of the individual. But, what do I know? I have only been on this earth for 34 years!


Thank you for your post!