Tuesday, November 15, 2011

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.

When we first moved to California and I was miserably, desperately homesick, my dad - no stranger to the relatively nomadic lifestyle already being bred in his then 8 year old child - would remind me that my friends may no longer have been physically close, but it was no reason for them to no longer be close friends. "How do you get mail? Send it" was the refrain, and it instilled in me a fairly important lesson at a young age - that friendships, no matter how close, take work. They take putting in the time and the effort.

I mentioned in my life recap that I recently reconnected with someone I was fairly certain I'd never speak to again. And it's funny, actually, because years and years ago when things first started to go south with this friend, I believe I said something to the effect of "I've never let somebody walk out of my life, and I'm not about to start with you." Only... I kind of did just that. Whoops. Now as is always the case, the falling out wasn't nearly that simple, but it's also not the point of this post.

Rather what's been floating around in my brain is the process of reconnecting - because I feel like it's supposed to be awesome, right? And it is nice, but you know what else? It's fucking WEIRD.

Because everything feels like it should be easier. Because somehow you're supposed to ignore that time where you weren't in one another's lives, but it's impossible to pretend time hasn't passed that you didn't know each other. Because there's a trust that has to be rebuilt, and yet it's supposed to already exist. Because everything seems the same, but nothing is.

To be honest, I never thought I'd be here - certainly not with this person, but really in general. I thought I had taken that lesson to heart when I was a child, thought I was a better "friend" (in the abstract) than this, extenuating circumstances in this case notwithstanding.

I realize now, a good deal older and a (only a little) more mature than I was at 8, that our California move had to have been harder on my parents than it was on me. Their friends too were all on the other side of the country (world, it might as well have been to me then), and they of course 1) didn't have the luxury of school and 2) had already left everything behind only six reasonably short years earlier. And yet they spoke to those friends almost everyday. Still do, and they are still across the country from those people. It's something I admire immensely, and something I often feel I should work harder at.

For a lot of reasons I'm glad the person that inspired this post has come back into my life, and as I said I was pretty positive that wouldn't ever happen. It took a lot to get to where I am now, to be glad instead of to be afraid it would all go to hell again. But that's the risk, I think. Of relationships, but of friendships too - those wounds can sting just as deeply as a relationship gone wrong, and often sticks for a lot longer.

The quote that titles this post is by Audrey Hepburn, and like the right quote does, rang very, very, almost painfully true to me the first time I heard it. It still does, but I haven't done quite as good a job with it in recent years. This situation is specific unto itself, but has in a larger way reminded me that that's true. To extrapolate from what my dad said those many years ago, how do you keep friends? Be one. 8 year old self with the silly email address and horrific long distance bill (sorry family!), you might have been onto something.

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