Thursday, July 19, 2007

On My Friends

I just had a lovely second lunch with a person who is going to be a lifelong friend of mine. She is a terrific woman who really feels to me like who I might be in 10 years. She’s many things that feel familiar but to have them reflected was...well if it wasn't life changing it was day altering. And she is that rare conversationalist who has all the topics firmly on the table at all times and ready for recall. It was like talking while sober but feeling like you’re talking while on E—for people who do E, this will make complete sense, and for those who don’t, this will sound alarming as a reference point. So we discussed a lot of things: mothers, daughters, sons, marriages, our common obsession with a certain kind of a man who might be described, somewhat simplistically and unimaginatively, as “macho”, and tons more. More interestingly we spent a lot of time dissecting our difficulties in relationships with women. We've both had a considerable amount of experience being at the receiving end of some bitch darts, some defensive bitch attacks, on the part of women who, we thought, had much more going on than we had. Part of it was this melancholic frustration of having the messier, muddier, backstabbier relationships happen with women, when truly we’ve been committed to building great relationships with women. Part of it was this sense that we are perpetually misunderstood as people who project a certain humility and insecurity that is not real, and therefore are assholes—or at the very least , worthy of contempt. It was refreshing to see that someone older would have the same issues, for the same reasons. Almost the precise same reasons. But her insights were truly profound, as were her questions. To the point, some of the questions:
Why do many women assume that when we say that we are really insecure about ourselves, that we can’t be serious, that it is false modesty? And then she and I both fell upon this question and it clarified for us that in the very end, we might just be self-involved egomaniacs ourselves: why on earth would many women assume that with all the drama (real and imagined) that imbues our (self-involved) lives (let the melodramatic self-narrativization on this blog stand witness!) we would find additional time to posture, or construct and then project a false impression of ourselves; to compete with others in addition to competing with the little self-loathing voice in our heads; to, in other words, go above and beyond our own preocupations and actually give a shit what they think, enough to try and manipulate it? Why would we waste any time telling them lies? And why is it not okay, with most women, to speak frankly about these things? About the idea that yeah, for all our faults and they are many, we’re solidly “good people”, very adept socially, more intelligent and intuitive than average, and in possession of a really good interpersonal skills arsenal? Needless to say, we had one of those great soulmatey moments, and it was a summer lunch and the kind of moment that warrants and a good class of white wine--which we of course, had. In fact we had two, in case we weren't effusive enough.

It all got me thinking a recurrent thought that I don’t articulate quite enough and that is the thought of my luck with friends. I am really lucky, friend-wise and let us not waste time apologizing for the sacharine nature of this line of thinking. I tell myself my luck with friends compensates for what I got dealt love-wise and parent-wise. It’s the perfect yin for that yang (this metaphor's just the wine talking, really, as I know not the meaning or spelling of either term). Great friends is the best cure for the ailment of having the people who were first and closest to your heart be the biggest assholes in the world. You know, your mother, your partner, when they don’t come through, they wreak a fundamental havoc that you spend your life trying to undo. These undellible marks are left and they map out your life as nothing more than a journey to a nowhere land of evening scores. And it hurts all along the way, and happiness is misrepresented as those moments where it just hurts less. And that’s not way to live you come to realize, exhaused. BUT if you, like me, have these friends who far exceed your expectations in all kinds of ways, you get another shot at it and you get to reinvent yourself not alone, and not in the dark. And, further, when you think your roster of friends could not in any way improve, you find more great friends; solidly good people who can trigger a boost in your quality of life that is quite unequivocal, quite unmistakable. I think there may even be some visible sparks that flywhen it happens... Is that corny? Probably. Today’s lunch was that kind of moment but, as if it weren’t enough of a big blessing, it served to remind me of how lucky I am to be the person who has had that experience more than once in a lifetime, enough times to recognize it well. I have been lucky to have that experience way after the socially promiscuous youth years, way after I need more friends, way after I am looking for more friends. The fact that I can still, at 31, find new lifelong friends and have that spark fly, well that's just beyond what's to be expected. My friends are a true testament of my worth as a human being and I, for better or worse, still very much need and seek out such testaments of self-worth. If I were to go on a mad chase for them I’d probably steer myself in the most terribly wrong directions, so I feel truly blessed to not have to do it; truly blessed to have a way of making great friends, as simplistic as that sounds. Running out of smart ways to say that I feel really rained on, friends-wise. That may be in the end, the best sign of a life well lived and anyone who knows me knows, when the time comes, I'll be looking for that sign.