You know, if you’d only read the last two or three posts on this blog, you might think that my life is in the crapper right now… and while I will not deny this summer wasn’t all ice cream cones and rainbows, it has definitely had some very good times. And I have to attribute most of those good times to friendships – old, new, and in-between – which kindled warm memories and good times, along with the promise of what might grow.
One of the ways in which I hope I maintain at least the edges of friendship with people so far away is facebook. Although I have many challenges with facebook, I have to say I appreciate the chance it gives me for those quick peeks into the lives of my friends. It’s kind of like a gopher farm office but on-line (and possibly in your pyjamas). At work, you pop your head out of your cubicle to yell at someone across the room – “nice job with the Farnsworth contract, Joe!” and go back to work. On facebook, you hit the “like” button when someone gets engaged and comment “How beautiful the ring is!” below the photo of same ring.
I have friends in life and/or on facebook in 9 different countries and more than 25 different cities (lost count somewhere between Stratford and Stradbroke) and having technology that helps me keep them in my life is important… even though I also value, prefer, treasure the friendships that are in my face, on my couch, drinking wine and scotch with me.
At some point in August, I posted a facebook status update which said I loved technology (at that moment, not always) because it helped bring old friends in one’s life. That idea was re-affirmed by someone with whom I had working-into-being-real friendship while in Stirling. Some great things have happened to him since we saw each other last, and I had been debating whether or not to tell him I was very pleased to hear about this great move forward. Needless to say, it was wonderful to hear from him before I finished that internal debate and, taking Yoda’s advice, will do more to ensure that we stay on that footing.
Yoda, for those of you who may not remember, is the weird little muppet-y character from “Star Wars” who famously said “Do or do not. There is no such thing as try.”
A very unexpected email popped into my in-box about the same time from someone else with whom I had that same sort of relationship, same place. Her story right now isn’t quite as happy as my other friend, but the fact that she has reached out to me means the world, and I look forward to technology being part of helping this friendship along.
Technology – in this case, a professional networking site – has brought an old classmate back into my life. As he’s half a world away, not to mention incredibly busy, I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be to keep the wheels spinning on this re-establishing friendship, but I hope we will succeed. Randolph is one of those people I would have called a “good acquaintance” back in our university days… if I had used that phrase then. He was one of those people I knew because of mutual friends, along with some classes we took, one of those people I really liked but never did anything truly pro-active to deepen the friendship. His life path has been extraordinary, and I really regret that I wasn’t more aware of him, his life and his work for these many years. And I’m looking forward to connecting more.
Maybe there was something in the air this summer, because re-connecting with old school friends happened in person as well. My friends Ute (who I saw 2 years ago for the first time in mumbly-mumbled years) and Brenda (whom I hadn’t seen in two more mumbly years than that) came to Buffalo for the weekend, to eat and drink and talk. Boy, did we talk. If you knew us back when, I bet your ears were burning!! We talked about work and family, about travel and friendships, about what we remembered about school and who we remembered and who we would never forget. It was a great time, too short a time, but one which I think will happen again. I know for sure that we will keep talking through technology – email, Skype, facebook – and possibly even snail mail!
Nearer the end of the summer, my best friend and her daughter came to visit for a weekend. Again, lots of food, lots of drink, lots of talking. Lynn and I have known each other for about as long as I’ve known Ute and Brenda, but we met in a swimming pool, teaching kids how to swim. She took the “good” students, the ones who wanted to be there or who understood why they were there. I was the instructor with the screaming child who didn’t. Out of such trials, great friendships are born.
We have been there for each other in good times and in bad, we laugh at the same stupid things, she constantly challenges me with her incredible intelligence and drive, and most of the time when she’s around, I feed her well. This visit, however, because it had just been my birthday and was actually Erin’s birthday, we went out and had a wonderful evening.
I love not-exactly-martinis… and that’s all I’ll say about that! Except to add, I apparently also really like calamari…
Erin, who also likes not-exacty-martinis, came to visit us last fall, by herself. When she crossed the border, the guy asked her why she was coming, where she was staying and she told the truth – to visit her mother’s best friend. The INS guy couldn’t believe that she’d want to visit her mother’s friend of her own free will but still let her come in. On that visit, and on this one, I kept pinching myself to remember that I have known this girl literally all her life. And I should probably tell her that next time she visits, she can just say she’s coming to visit her own good friend.
Anyway, Lynn and Erin’s visit was such fun, from martinis to waffles (waffle coma! I’m in a waffle coma!), and all points in between. It was fun because it was real, in person, lively, noisy, a little boozy. Lynn and I talk often on Skype but, unless it’s after 5 and we’re both pooped & thirsty, it’s not that boozy or noisy. Which, when you think about it, might not be such a bad thing.
I think what I really wanted to say writing this was that in my summer of not-quite-discontent, I have especially learned that friendships are vital to my well-being… to the well-being of us all, I should think. Friends hold us up when life wants to bat us down; they remind us of our value and of our worth; they offer humour when we can only see sadness; they play with us when we need that and they make us work our butts off when we have to do that; they are reminders of our past and beacons to our future; they are part of us and, if we are good friends in turn, we are part of them.
When we give to our friends – encouragement, advice, succor, martinis – we give to ourselves. Shared strength and love is doubled, not halved. So go! Share some love and strength, and maybe an espresso martini. And thanks for being my friend.
But just before you think I’m being a real sap, this came to me from one of those friends who stays with me through technology…. Her emails always make me smile.