One foot on the ground

I make sure I always surround myself with good, down to earth, fun, real people, who always keep me grounded — Sean Kingston

I’ve never considered myself a social butterfly nor do I think I’ve ever behaved that way for a specific period during my life. I’m definitely not a Chatty Cathy.

But I do appreciate the gregarious natures exhibited in a good chunk of my friends. Thankfully, none of them are Chatty Cathys. The fact that anybody can run their mouths off like there’s no tomorrow is astonishing and physically and mentally fatiguing to those who have to listen to them.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reminded of the importance of friends who I hold close to my heart and whose presence in my life are good for my soul. It wasn’t the kind of reminder that screams from the tallest building for anyone and everyone to hear. It was the kind of reminder that calmly comes up behind me and places its hand on my shoulder to remind me I can lean on them. No drama. No showboating. Just a quiet strength I can use when I need to call on it.

I’ve never understood why a person would want scads and scads of friends. Maybe it’s a different kind of hoarding. I think part of it is based on the personality they possess. Some people are good at maintaining a huge swath of friends.

For someone like me, maintaining a huge swath of friends seems like a lot of work. I’m happy with the people I have in my life. It took me a good chunk of my twenties to figure out what I wanted out of life and who were worth keeping as friends as I went through the process.

Turns out I’m still shedding and refining the relationships I want to keep today. And I’m still figuring out what I want out of life. I think I’ll always be hungry for more out of my life.

This shedding and refining is a continuous process. I’d like to think that the friends I have now will be the ones I have 10 to 25 years from now. But I also understand the fluidity of life. I hope the people I am closest to and cherish their friendship the most will continue to be in my life for a long time to come. As for the rest, the fluidity of life dictates that change is constant. Therefore, I’m fine with relationships that ultimately have a limited shelf life. As long as the relationships were positive and nurturing during its existence, I’ll consider myself lucky for having known those people during that time. Anything less than that, well… I’ll consider myself lucky that it’s over.

The friends I cherish the most are the ones who keep me grounded so I can soar. They make me happy. I am blessed. I am lucky. I am ready to soar.

Catching up and writing it down

When you haven’t spoken to a friend you haven’t seen in a few months because you both have been busy as bees and sending each other emails or texts has never been the way you roll with each other, you will take any opportunity to catch up with that person.

That’s what happened to me over the weekend.

When and where did this opportunity occur? Before midnight. I was exiting a building and heading towards my car. I heard my name being called and looked up to see the person who I would consider the closest thing to a male best friend.

The evening temperature wasn’t too cold. Pleasant, in fact. We spent a good 15-20 minutes chatting away in the parking lot. He wanted to know what was going in my life. Not much, aside from trying to write another novel or turn it into a collection of short stories linked together by the characters. I’ll discuss that a bit later.

Then I quietly admitted I was considering learning to play acoustic guitar. He looked at me, smiled and said “Do it!” His son has been learning to play acoustic guitar for the last two years and moved onto the electric guitar. By his father’s account, the boy is a very happy camper. My friend also indicated because of my music background, any guitar teacher would be happy to have me as his/her student. Nothing like getting pushed off a cliff by someone you trust.

We discussed a bit about my writing although we both agreed a conversation over coffee to discuss that plus guitars, motorcycles and the universe was an absolute must-do. I really couldn’t tell him everything that was running amok in my mind with regards to the story and the characters. Not enough time.

There was also a discussion on something he had promised to show me last summer but hadn’t gotten around to it yet because of our busy schedules. No, I can’t tell you what he promised to show me. Yes, I’m a horrible human being. Anyway, he’s still promising and I’m holding him to it because it would add so much to my writing. And he knows it.

I had mentioned earlier that I am trying to figure out if my current writing project will turn into a novel or a collection of short stories linked together by its theme and its characters. The option of doing a collection of short stories came up because I finally felt brave enough to show my writing mentor the 3,000-plus words I had written so far even though I haven’t finished a complete outline of the story.

He liked what I wrote and was excited about it. I’ll never stop being stunned whenever a person tells me they like the way I string a bunch of words together. Never.

However, I didn’t tell him I was thinking in terms of writing a novel. And because what I had written felt like a short story to him, he assumed I had written it that way. Whoops. I had to email him back and tell him I hadn’t really intended it to be a short story. There is a much bigger picture than what I’ve shown him. So, now he understands. And like any good mentor, he commented what I had written was strong enough to stand alone but considering I had a grander scheme in mind. So, he offered up the idea of writing a collection of short stories with the characters who were bombing around in my head.

To be honest, the idea of a collection of short stories did pop into my head before my mentor suggested it as an interesting option to writing a novel. It really could go either way. But I think I’ll write what I need to write first rather than get tangled up in following a form. If it happens that I end up with a collection of short stories, I’ll go that route. Right now, I can’t decide.

But I do have to chuckle. I figured I sucked at writing short stories. My first concerted effort at writing a short story sucked. I figured it was because I was writing in the third person. It felt kind of stilted. Everything changed after I moved over to first person writing. I never gave writing short stories any real thought after that.

Considering I was writing a scene that somehow turned into more of a short story, I do have to give serious thought to the short story form. I honestly didn’t think I was capable of writing in that form.

Who knew.

Sometimes, you can’t go back

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend — William Blake

Last week, an former friend left me a message via Facebook. She was someone I had not spoken to in more than 15 years.

In the final months, it was a friendship that was stagnating and in the process of slowly dying a painful death.

I felt the changes but, it seemed she was unaware of the fundamental shift that was happening.

How do you tell someone that the friendship is dying? That it’s headed towards the grave? That it’s time to walk away and find the people you are meant to have in your life?

No easy answers.

I won’t get into specifics regarding the disintegration of the friendship, but I can tell you this. She and I, (I’ll call her Misha) along with two other friends, had known each other since we were 13 years old. There was a time where I believed they were my best friends. That was until a classmate decided she wanted to my friends to be her friends as long as I was out of the picture.

Why I seemed to be a threat to this girl, I’ll never know. She was bully. She bullied me and scared my friends into not standing up for me. They just watched the bully take any opportunity to denigrate to me. The bully was a cunt and I guess the cunt didn’t like academically smart people. Or maybe she thought Chinese girls were easier to bully because they weren’t known for fighting back. Yeah, fuck you, too, you fucking waste of a human being.

When you have that kind of karma enveloping you, karma will eventually turn into a bitch and take you down. I have no idea what that cunt is doing these days. She could be dead for all I know. More likely, she’s living the life her karma has afforded her.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Anyway, this bullying lasted a school year. It took that long for the cunt to get tired of my friends and look for amorally-inclined friends. On the last day of school, Misha and the others apologized to me for everything that had transpired over the school year. They wanted to be friends with me again. I don’t think they asked for my forgiveness but I gave it to them anyway without saying a word. I did it because I still cared about them. The option of walking away and making a new set of friends never entered my mind.

It was only years later, that I realized being abandoned by my friends — regardless of the circumstances behind the abandonment — cut a lot deeper into my psyche than I had expected. That realization came when I knew I had to walk away from Misha and everyone associated with her.

Why did I walk away from this friendship? Well, it pretty much ran its course. Everything has a lifespan. That includes friendships. My friendship with Misha et al. had a lifespan. How did I know this to be true? I believe when you hang out with your friends, you shouldn’t feel the need to get the fuck away from them because they’re sucking the life out of you, intentionally or unintentionally. I was consistently left feeling uninspired and searching for positivity elsewhere after spending time with them.

It felt like she and the others were spinning their wheels and I had found traction and was doing circles around them because of all the things I had in my life at the time — work, horses, photography — and my insatiable need to learn which included learning who I was. I was (and still am) learning about myself. Learning what mattered to me, learning what made me tick and learning what I stood for. Something my friends were not doing for themselves.

So, when it came time to tell Misha I had to pull away from the circle of friends for a little while to sort out stuff. Yes, I made it sound like I had a problem, that I was the bad guy. Better to be the bad guy than to tell her the truth the friendship was all but dead. I knew she wouldn’t understand that some friendships weren’t forever. Especially ours.

Side note: the conversation was done through emails. I know, disintegration of a relationship via email. A modern-day classic.

It didn’t matter that I described my need to be away from them as a ‘break.’ Misha didn’t take it well. It took her two weeks to stew over my need to be on my own to fire back an email (a day before my birthday, as a matter of fact) to tell me how horrible a friend I was becoming. She proceeded to cite the number of times she felt I wasn’t being a good friend/person. All rubbish. All bullshit. And she knew it.

She’s lucky I never called her on the desperate comment she made regarding the idea of giving her four-year-old daughter some Paxil, an anti-depressant, to help with her separation anxiety. Why Paxil? Because Misha was taking it for her general anxiety. It worked for her. Why wouldn’t it work for her little girl?

I was too dumbfounded to tell her that really wasn’t a good idea. Her daughter was having issues with Misha going to back to work. The girl was tearful and probably inconsolable whenever Misha walked out the door to go to work. I think talking to another mom who has dealt with separation anxiety or to a child psychologist would have been more helpful than contemplating the concept of giving a four-year-old an anti-depressant.

Did she ever give her daughter Paxil? I don’t know. I’d like to think that she found her marbles and tossed the idea out with the garbage.

So, Misha succeeded in pissing me off a day before my birthday. Really? A day before my birthday? Passive aggressive, much? There was a period of time afterwards I regarded her as a cunt. Now? Not anymore.

I looked at her email and proceeded to refute every hasty claim she made against me. Instead of telling her to fuck off and die, I suggested we meet somewhere for coffee and talk. A little face-to-face time. Sort things out. Tell her the truth, perhaps. Yep, I lobbed that ball back into her court. Did she take me up on the offer? Nope. She emailed back saying she had misunderstood my intentions and said it was alright for me to take time for myself. Gee, I didn’t realize I needed her permission to toddle off.

That feeling of abandonment I experienced during the year I was bullied had returned. Not that I thought Misha was abandoning me. I never thought that. It was the feeling of being letdown again by someone who I thought was my friend. Did I feel like being letdown a third time by the same person? They say third time is a charm. Yeah, well, fuck it. I wasn’t going to stick around for a third time. I didn’t send her a parting shot. I just stopped communicating with her and the others. Just like that.

And that folks, is one of a million ways a friendship can die.

Over the years, I have thought about her and the others. But I have never had any desire to see them again. That door is closed and I’m not interested in opening it. I’m kind of surprised we had managed to not bump into each other on the street, given the size of the city. It speaks to the different circles we run in.

And back to the reason for this blogpost… the private message Misha sent me via Facebook. What compelled her to contact me, I’ll never know. She said a number of things in her message.

First, she didn’t know how our friendship imploded the way it did, but was sorry for everything that happened. She acknowledged that I had always been a good friend. She was the one who faltered at it.

Okay.

Second, she attributed her behaviour to issues she was facing at the time. Issues she didn’t share with me or wasn’t ready to discuss back then. She said they were only explanations, not excuses for her behaviour.

Okay. Good of her to acknowledge that. I’m not sure why she thought I wouldn’t be supportive with whatever she was going through at the time. Up until the implosion, I had been nothing but supportive.

Third, all that crap she eventually faced after all these years is ‘water under the bridge.’

Good. Glad to hear she has her shit together.

Fourth, she told me how her daughters were doing and how proud she was of them. They are bright, whip smart and independent-minded young ladies.

It was nice to hear her girls are thriving.

Finally, she told me she never forgot me and over the years, thoughts of me would enter into her consciousness. She reiterated she was sorry. She said I didn’t have to respond to the message. She said she was ‘cool with it’ if I opted not to respond to her. She just wanted me to know how she still felt about me and the whole falling out debacle.

Well, I had a weak moment and thought about having proper closure to a part of my life I had walked away from. I thought I could send her a message to let her know that I had read her message and I accepted her apology.

But I have no intention of renewing the friendship. What’s done is done.

However, it’s kinda hard to respond to someone whose name is ‘Facebook User.’ Yep, Misha’s name is ‘Facebook User.’ Just fucking brilliant. Invite a response by presenting an open door when, in fact, there was no door in the first place. Just fucking brilliant.

What reason could there be to have a person be identified as ‘Facebook User’? Could it be she blocked me from seeing her account? Could it be she deactivated her account right after she sent her message? What would be the point in doing that? Was this her way of getting in the last word? Would she not know that deactivating her account essentially keeps me from contacting her? I’d like think she erred on her part. But I doubt it. She can’t possibly be that stupid, right?

In a perfect world, this kind of apology deserved to be said in-person, not through private messaging via social media. She didn’t have the nerve to have a heart-to-heart talk 15 years ago. Why would she want to have one now?

Anyway, I still wish her all the best. I’ve always wanted the best for her regardless of whether or not I was a part of her life. Does that mean I forgive her? If I wish her well, that means I’ve forgiven her, right? I have no idea.

I still have no intention of having her back in my life. Sometimes, you can’t go back.

My life is with the friends I have now. Naturally, I am amenable to making more new friends who are as crazy as I am. But the lot I have now are beyond great.

And I wouldn’t trade them in for the world.