Friends, Acquaintances, and People I Know

The #1 fear I had when I bought a house up in BFE Baltimore (that’s an accurate assessment from anyone in DC, including myself when I was down there) was that I’d lose a lot of friends.  I was used to hanging out with folks on the regular, constantly getting asked to attend this or that, and being able to do so.

Nowadays though?  With my health deciding to take a nosedive, my finances deciding to wrap themselves around my house, and friends moving farther away/getting their own lives on…that’s kinda what’s happening.  Am I getting asked to attend stuff?  Absolutely.  Am I able to make as many of those as I’d like?  Absolutely not.  And that stinks.

So I took a moment to consider; does it matter?  Is attendance at every soiree mandatory when friendship is on the table?  Five years ago I’d have said yes.  I thought the more you saw your friends, the deeper your friendship is.  As I began to settle in up here, my mind shifted a bit; no, you don’t need to be there all the time, but it’s nice to get your face seen.  A kind of tribute to the love you have for those who matter.

This year though, I’m a bit more whiny philosophical.  What is friendship, and how is friendship shown?  As a bit of a social/personality chameleon, I have friends of all types:

* The lifelong, who are basically family.  No wait; they ARE my family.  The ones who will drop anything and help me, no matter what.  The folks I’d do the same for, no matter what.

* The exes, who have been up for the role of Significant Other, but found their way to lifelong friends that call/text/FB weekly, offer help, and are there (sometimes with their real SOs) to grab a beer, or hit a Fest, anytime.  Which is a win, IMHO.

* The new, who are constantly surprising me with hidden depths, unwavering loyalty, and wonderful silliness. They make me up my game, get off my butt, and enjoy life.

* The pick-up-where-we-left-off, who I don’t see as often as I like (or often at all), but whenever we get together it’s like we’ve never spent time apart.  They help me remember who I am, who I was, and we guide each other into who we’ll become.

* The surprise friendships; people I’d never thought would click with me, but ended up being people who ground me, geek me out, or just plain-ol’ get me.  I learn new things, and engage in ways I’d never thought I’d be able. They also help me politely disagree, and find my personal compass.

* The gang; groups of friends who make any time spent with them an adventure.  They’re up for anything, their happiness is infectious, and are always up for a hug-a-thon.

There are also friends who were thisclose years ago, but for some reason have distanced themselves.  And I’m quite sure I’ve done the same to others.  People who I couldn’t go a day without getting a call/text/e-mail from, but who are now out of contact, and out of reach by their choice.  It’s strange when that happens.  Dialing the clock back is an option, but who wants to do that?  Y’know, besides getting the great skin I had back in the day.  Ahh, mem’ries.

Then there are The Others.  People who are wonderful, awesome and amazing, but not necessarily friends.  Not the folks you could call and chat with, but would gladly spend hours talking to you at a party.  Acquaintances, friends of friends, people I know but have never one-on-one’d with.  Beautiful, talented, intelligent folks that I’ve never had the pleasure of digging in with, or who haven’t offered.  Which is fine; there are only so many hours in the day, and I’m hella lazy.

They’re all wonderful.  And for years I tried to give all of these “levels” the exact same attention; Family Level.  Any wonder I’ve failed?  And it pisses me off that I haven’t been able to be all that I’d like to be to all these people.  But as the years roll by, I finally realized:

I DON’T HAVE TO BE.

Levels of friendship are to be expected.  And it’s okay to give more to some than you do to others.  I can nurture those who nurture me, and simply enjoy time with others who are wonderful enough to spend brief moments of their life with me.  Friends are Friends, Others are Others, and that’s okay.

So from now on?  Friends get top priority.  Others get my love, respect and adoration…but visits will have to be reciprocal.  If it comes down to spending time with people I know love me, or people that think I’m cool but it doesn’t really matter if I’m available on X Day?  I’ll spend quality time with the latter when we can both really enjoy it, rather than try to bulk up quantity where it’s simply me as another body in the room.

And I’ll start to ask more friends to come up and visit.  And those that can?  Wonderful.  Those that can’t?  Well, I’ll try to visit them when I’m able.  And I’ll no longer feel guilty about it, because my door is always open.  If folks don’t understand that “but you’re so far away!” goes both ways?  Well, then I’ll see you when my health, finances and time allow.  Because you probably won’t care that I’m busting my hump to get to you. And again, that’s okay; levels are levels.

It’ll be rough, and I’m already feeling the guilt of being a friendship hardass.  But by the end of this year, I’m hoping I’ll have a better handle on visiting, friendships, and time management.  Goals!

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