Sunday, June 3, 2018

Thoughts on friendships

Friendships.  Some last forever, and others last for a fleeting moment in time. Of the people in this picture, I only know how to contact two of them after 35 years. And none of us are close to each other anymore.

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In the above photo, the woman on the left was dating the fellow in the middle when I knew her, and had the bad taste to proposition me while she was going out with him.  Their relationship didn't work out, and from what I heard, she got married to someone else, had 3 kids, and eventually got divorced. Next is the fellow next to her. He got married within 3 years of this photo being taken, was never able to have children, and now has been enjoying parts of the single life for years. The fellow in the center had a checkered job history, and doesn't respect women that much.  I stumbled into him several years ago, and was repulsed by his attitude when I was willing to set him up with Lili.  The fellow furthest to the right dropped off my contact list shortly after the woman on the right got married.  He was always pursuing her, and was very sad when he found he couldn't have her. And that leaves the woman on the right. She has had a successful career in nursing, and is now enjoying her retirement with her husband and two grown children.  Even though I haven't seen her in years, I always felt a bond of caring she projected when we were near each other.

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There were two friends I wanted to have at my wedding, and I was only able to invite one of them because we kept our reception very small. I have had little contact with one of these two because he became a walking "ditto head" for whatever talking points were issued by the GOP.  If he were a classic conservative, someone who questions a party line and the assumptions behind it, I wouldn't mind associating with him.  I could learn a lot of new things by having my assumptions challenged honestly.  However, his need to belong to a group, to have his feelings reaffirmed, and to establish a false stability in his life overcame his ability to be objective when seeing current events for what they are. He never challenges a party line, nor does he question leadership.  So I've let this friendship fall by the wayside.

The other of these two friends, WDS, has not been anywhere near the NYC area in over 5 years.  If anything, he questions why I haven't motivated myself to get work, get back into shape, or found a new passion in life.  And yet, he has always been open to me when we've been in contact. He even gave me a fully loaded iPad as a gift when I got that short term gig at the payments firm in 2016.  I'm glad that I chose him to be the best man at my wedding.

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Of the friends I've had for 30 years or more, I've seen only one of them in the past year. And Joanie isn't that close to me.  She once had a romantic interest in me, but it didn't work out for us. And that's just as well, as she and I had different goals in life and incompatible ways of achieving those goals.

If I were to shrink the period to 20 years, I'd now include both Vicki and Maria. Vicki and I have known each other since the old Bulletin Board computing networks, as were mutual friends of a person who is better lost than found. This (then) friend was a few french fries short of a happy meal, as he made bogus claims about himself to fluff up his importance so that we would accept him as a friend.  (He was a relatively benign form of a Donald Trump like character, save that he didn't have wealth to give him power and influence.) Yet, both of us "ran for the hills" when he got himself into trouble with the law - and neither of us have seen him in over 15 years.  When Vicki and I stumbled into each other before her wedding, it was the resumption of a solid friendship that has stood the test of time.

Maria is someone I used to work with. She has has bad luck with her marriages and with raising her offspring.  I won't go into the details of her problems here.  But we have stayed in contact throughout the years, and will likely do so until one of us passes on. In some ways, I'm envious of her, as she has had the opportunity to raise children and to see her first grandchild before the age of 55. She has spunk - and I like that in a person.

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Lately, virtually all my other friends have either come from dating or from my exploration of the world as Marian. Virtually all accept me as Marian, although some know me in both presentations. And when I'm ready to go 24x7, I expect that many of those I see now will still be there for me after a social transition.  However, I don't expect any of the more recent women I've dated to be comfortable with me as Marian, and expect to lose them over time.

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So what is the common thread among friendships?

As I see it, many friendships help us explore the world in our early years, and help us try on identities that may or may not define us for the rest of our lives. None of the 5 people in the top photo are in regular contact with each other, yet we played important parts in each other's lives.  In the case of WDS, he was best man at my wedding, and will always see me as the indefatigable computer techie - long after I've lost interest in technical work.  Joanie will always see me as the "man who got away", yet will always want to be of assistance. Vicki likes the fact that she has a partner in me to do the things her husband doesn't like doing, such as going to the theater. And Maria likes the fact that I'll always be there when she needs to vent on her problems. Friendships which are short term or long term must serve a purpose. And when that need is no longer there, friendships fade away.

Hopefully, we all have enough good friendships to last a lifetime....

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