Friday, August 1, 2008

Glimmers and Glue

"You turn me right round, baby, right round/
like a record, baby, right, right, round, round"

These are my thoughts. This is my typing on pregnancy hormones. It sucks, this brain shrinkage. No patience at all. I got some brain-mutterings for you, that's all.

So this is my post, such as it is.

What is the glue that attracts friends and keeps them together?

I've been thinking about this more recently what with the who-liked-me-who-didn't stories of BlogHer and with my own recent visits with friends. It's interesting to muse over which friends stick around through all sorts of years and changes and which ones drift away.

Then there was a debate on a forum I follow, how two people bonded over waiting for children to be matched, how one person changed to special needs for her second child without telling the other (who is still waiting), and now the other doesn't want to be friends any more even though their first daughters are friends.

I was surprised that all the sympathy was with the first person saying Wah, she doesn't want to accept my apology and be friends any more, and how many people were saying that if the other were a "true" friend that she would get over all it already. I wanted to say that a "true" friend should have told the other woman *before* she was matched and that now she's being pretty insensitive to the fact that obviously the other woman is not ready to "get over it" and needs time alone with her pain. Jeez. but i digress.

This whole "true" friend got me thinking. What is the glue that keep friends together or crumbles up and falls apart?

Granted, I think some bonds are more fragile to begin with. Maybe you are friends out of proximity and convenience. Sharing a job location, neighborhood, interest, or activity leads to a deeper association, or at least more conversation. But there's no guarantee that the friendship will survive when one of you gets another job, moves away or decides to spend more time doing other things.

Same thing when you form bonds when you are a youngling. Maybe it's based on common outlook or the need to hang out with someone, preferably someone you can talk to and have fun with. Or maybe you each have insecurities or a wild sense of humor or an outsider status that needs that other person. Or maybe someone is a friend of a friend and it's just fun to hang out all together. Group bonding is also pretty cool.

The particular weakness of youth relationships lies in our tendency to change and grow up. You and your friends may or may not change in the same direction. It can be distressing, but it's inevitable that some differences will arise. A little respect and caring can go a long way, but it can't make up for major cracks and divisions.

An even greater threat to the glue is lack of interest in keeping in contact when you are out of convenient range. Again, I've been lucky that some old friends have enjoyed corresponding (this was before email, yo!), and/or visiting/calling, at least enough to keep up with each others lives. Now with email and things like mytwitterspacefacebook, it becomes even easier. But some friends can not bring themselves, for whatever reason, to keep up with a correspondence. Or others who do correspond, but only in a compulsive, shallow way (okay, sometimes that still works!). Or sometime a correspondence will die out despite the best of intentions. It's work to keep up with far-flung people, maybe too much work. A sense of flexibility and forgiveness helps. Do we all really need to always relate the same way forever? Either way, some friendships survive and others die out.

Friendships may dissolve because it's only after you get to know someone better that you realize you don't actually like them very much, or more distressingly, that they are really no friend at all. Oy, I have had a few of those, both with and without drama. Or perhaps an otherwise wonderful friend fails to come through during a stressful time and the disappointment and hurt is enough to kill it off. I've had at least one of those. And maybe like the other woman in the forum, one might need some time away for self-protective reasons, to deal with the rest of ones life.

Oh, are all these reasons that friendships fall apart? There are other reasons why the glue still holds.

Maybe the friendship survives because you have a little glimmer of fondness that transcends the inconvenience factor. I've been lucky to have had friends that persist through years of changes. The kind of friends who it's still wonderful to talk to and share with after months or years of little contact.

Maybe the friend has that mysterious spark that makes you giggle or makes you think, or gives you solace in a cold world. Maybe they offer you a breath of fresh air, the smile that lifts your heart, the mutual interest that recommends books and goes with you to make sure you really leave after you break up with your boyfriend. Or who spends all afternoon helping you shop for wedding dress fabric, who says, "I know it!" when you complain, who shares ideas and dreams and even pain, and tells you your creations are wonderful and to keep doing more of that thing you love!

Here's where I get all ethereal and sweeping with emotion, I suppose. I will try to not get all Rogers and Hammerstein on you.

As in any relationship, sometimes it's the small things that keep you going, that keep the friendship tended whether in the early mid or late stages, and even when you are too busy to even email for a while, it's still wonderful to hear from that person. Of course, some friends are hothouse flowers, needing gobs of attention and care, and others can survive dry spells and pop out again when it rains. Either way, we must, almost by evolutionary default, find the people who match up with us, who match glimmers and maintenance levels within acceptable tolerances. We find, as one friend likes to say "our people." The people who love and appreciate us. It goes without saying that this is a two-way street, sometimes a four-lane highway!

Glimmer, glimmer. I see glimmers. Friendly glimmers. At whatever stage of relationship, it's all good. " 'Cause I'm (uh-uh) stuck on you."

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