…we just learn who the real ones are.
I’d like to start by saying hello and thank you to the Grippers for giving me the opportunity to join their ranks. My official bio is in place, but there are some details it doesn’t cover.
I’m joining you here all the way from sunny Australia. Brisbane, to be precise. Capital city of Queensland, or as those born here call it, QUEEEEEEENZLAAAAAAND! I love this city, and this state, but I was not born here. Which brings me around to the current topic: Losing Friends.
For as I mentioned, though Brisbane is now my home, I was born two states away and have gradually migrated north. For those unfamiliar with Australia’s makeup, our states are mother-humping huge. Our smallest mainland state is almost the same size as the entire UK. My current home is approximately 1,700km (over 1,000 miles) from where I was born. I know what it means to leave behind all you knew.
Now, I’m no army brat. And I probably only moved about a dozen times in my life. More than Princess Di, less than Madonna, I hope.
But as anyone who’s moved a bunch of times will know, it becomes difficult to maintain friendships. You scar up, your skin thickens. You become inured to saying goodbye, and it no longer hurts so much. Without that hurt, there’s not so much drive to maintain contact.
I’ve lost a lot of friends over my 45 years of existence. It's been forced upon me by interstate moves in childhood, or even by just moving a few suburbs away on occasion. Many tears were shed in childhood over such matters.
But the worst part is that in recent years it’s been carelessness. Friendships which have fallen down the back of the couch, or haven’t been put back where I picked them up from. Ones I left in my pockets when I put my jeans through the wash.
So these days I try to maintain focus on the friends I do have. Most of my friends live in that magic picture box on my desk. Some of them are friends from the past, from other places I've lived. Some were mere acquaintances at school who've become close friends through re-connection. But the friendship is no less intense simply from the absence of a physical component. These are the friends who are closer than family.
As we grow older (hopefully) we evolve and change. Sometimes these changes take the form of a change in location. Other times it's a shift of head space. Would our friends of old understand who we have become? Our friendships evolve... or they whither.ReplyDelete
Oh yeah! welcome to the Grip, Willsin! Just wait'll the folks see the cool cover you did for me.Delete
Thanks, Daddy. I agree about the changes that take place. Sometimes it's the change of head space which then demands a change of location, too.Delete
My magic picture box is on my lap, not my desk, but yes, some of the best friends I've never met communicate through that box. Usually our bond starts with being writers, and then expands. I have one good friend in Queensland who may someday come close enough for us to meet, and two friends in New Zealand who probably never will, but I feel like I know them as well, if not better, than people within easy driving distance.ReplyDelete
So welcome, Willsin. Queensland doesn't feel all that far away.
Oh, yes, I hear you completely. Sometimes the absence of a physical element in a friendship leads to far greater and more intimate verbal communication. Of course, that can then lead to a reluctance to cross the line into a physical meeting! I mean, you have to shave and wear clean clothes for that!Delete
Welcome, Willsin! Thanks for joining us. At this point, we're definitely global.ReplyDelete
I think Daddy's right in saying that connections fade more from internal than from external changes. People we thought were our close friends turn out to be no more than acquaintances when we discover that all we really had in common was geography. Or lives and focus change, and the connection that used to be strong fades. Many of my husband's and my friends drifted away from us when they had kids and we did not, for example.
Looking at the bright side, though, the magic box sometimes lets us renew friendships that we'd dismissed. Recently I started corresponding with a woman who was a good friend in high school, but whom I had not heard from in years. She's smart and funny and has had a fantastically interesting life...I'm so glad we reconnected.
AND the Internet does make it easier to maintain those friendships that are important, even over distance. All we need is the time and the intention.
Great to have you here!
Thanks, Lisabet. I've read articles on that "geography" element before, dealing with people from my parents' generation mostly. The differences for men and women from those times, in particular. Where women had spent their lives building a home and a social life, men so often spent their time working. When work finished, they realised they'd barely invested themselves in a social life outside of work, leading to isolation in their senior years, especially if they outlived their wives.Delete
Absolutely true. I have misplaced childhood friends for years & reconnected with no sense of that lost time. No why, where or what...but others, I get a sense that there is a finality to the hazy end.ReplyDelete
I still tear up a bit when people leave but I have toughened up a smidgen over the years.
Yes, we definitely grow accustomed to losing people, the older we get. Which kind of sucks in its own way, of course. Thanks for coming over and commenting, Donna!Delete
Hi, Willsin, and welcome.ReplyDelete
What you wrote here really hits home. I know what it's like to move a long distance, to leave behind those you love, and the difficulty of maintaining friendships. I've had a few such changes in my life in the past few years. But how you said it is beautiful and raw and full of truth.
I haven't been good at keeping up with you (I have the same carelessness with friendships, and it's something I work on). But I do hope that the move turns out to be a good beginning, even as missing the old might still twinge.
Hi, Barrie! I agree, we haven't chatted nearly enough in the past year or two. My gosh, things just jump on our shoulders and weigh us down sometimes. That's life, of course, but hopefully we can get back to a nice back-and-forth rhythm soon. Thanks for coming over and saying g'day!Delete
I was an army brat, moving every 2-3 years. Then I got a job that moved me every 5-15 years. Made temporary friends who I valued but knew I would leave behind. But kept 2 from high school that have been with me for life.ReplyDelete
It's those ones you keep who are truly valuable of course, Rhonda. Temporary friendships still add value to people's lives, but holding on to the ones that matter is wonderful. Thank you for coming over and commenting!Delete
Welcome, Willsin! Wow, you've got some great turns of phrase. I may steal your line about friendships falling down the back of the couch, for my own personal use of course. That's a great description of a phenomenon I've experienced.ReplyDelete
And what you say about moving is exactly right. I've lived in so many places, and only a handful of my relationships have survived the inevitable breaks that has caused.
Anyway, thanks for the eloquent piece, and I look forward to getting to know you through The Grip! :)
Thanks, Annabeth. I do enjoy trying to create a slightly new way of saying things. I'm glad the post resonated for its phrases as much as for its spirit. And thank you for the welcome!Delete
Thank you to everyone who commented! My apologies for being behind in my replies. I was on a family road trip for nearly the entire time between when I posted this and now.ReplyDelete