html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: You know what is fascinating? Long inventories.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

You know what is fascinating? Long inventories.

I’ve been thinking about old friends recently, and new friends too. I’m in such a shift right now. I rarely see my Ultimate friends, since I’m not there. I’m gradually becoming familiar with the regulars at weightlifting. I got my first invitation to something with them last week, and that’s how it starts. The strangest thing is that my undergraduate friends have coalesced again. They were everywhere for a while, all over the country. Each of us independently has moved back to the Bay and we’ve seen each other enough recently that getting together is almost not an occasion anymore.

Then I started thinking about where my current friends, friends that I can call easily and stay up to date with, came from.

Family friends: These people don’t come from any institution; they just exist in the world. Two-ish people, I suppose. Alan I haven’t seen in years, but occasionally comments here. Jill lives in Oakland and we keep meaning to see her more than we do. I also recently acquired some great cousins that hold promise to be friends for many years.

Elementary school: None. I have a fondness for a couple women from elementary school, and Google them from time to time. But it would be extraordinary to hear from them, so I guess they aren’t current friends. I would email them if I were visiting their cities though, and hope to get dinner with them.

Junior high: Several, probably because they also went to high school and college with me. But I keep in fairly frequent touch with at least one guy from junior high and three or four more people I could call without freaking them out. One guy found me here and we exchange nice emails.

High school: Add another still-close friend (Teddy!) and a couple more that I see every year or so.

Undergrad: Here’s the big pulse of still-tight friends. A half-dozen hippies, including my esteemed but distractible co-blogger, climb on the bus at this point. And Dennis who wasn’t especially close then but has become much closer in the past couple years.

Trip to Uzbekistan: I took this trip one summer and came out of it with two tight friends. I see or talk to them often enough that we take up with no awkwardness. Since there were only about ten Americans on the trip, this is an incredibly high close-friend percentage for a group. I should be all young and impressionable and go on group trips more often.

First work: I picked up a married couple there that I treasure. I lived with Chris’s parents then too and befriended them separate from Chris.

First grad school: Two that I have no qualms about staying with when I visit, although we don’t keep in touch at other times.

Law school: Three solid friends. One or two more distant friends.

Second grad school: One solid friend.

Ultimate: I bet I made several close friends there, although it remains to be seen how we’ll do when it requires effort to see each other.

Work again: I got Margie and I bet I’m keeping her.

Blog: Some of you seem to be developing into real genuine friends. Like, not imaginary. Like, not the abstract fondness for the lot of you, but a particularized fondness based on telling each other stuff and keeping in close touch and hanging out when we’re local. It doesn’t get me laid or anything, so it wasn’t exactly the point, but it might last. This is very nice.

So here’s the big thing about that list, the part that surprises me most. There is not one single person from TaeKwonDo on that list. No one I miss even a little. Me, who clings to people and calls them out of the blue and wants to always know how they are, didn’t make a single friend at tkd during the thirteen years I did it. Me, who usually comes out of big activities with at least one friend, didn’t keep one person from one of the biggest activities of my life. You know, I wasn’t even that close with them when I was there. I mean, I liked most people and followed their gossip. But I spent all those hours with them every day and never thought they were friends. When I left them I didn’t care and that has not turned into retrospective fondness. Huh.

10 Comments:

Anonymous SwissarmyD said...

perhaps examining the reason for participating in taekwondo...

will illuminate your answer.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

You know what, I studied TKD for thirteen years and I don't have a single friend, either. I do have a friend who went to the same dojong, different building, but we were friends apart from martial arts.

However, I was a particularly socially awkward kid. Hell, I still am.

4:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By my count you've got about 25 people whom you can call friends. That's pretty impressive, 95th percentile territory or better.

Peter
Iron Rails & Iron Weights

6:21 AM  
Blogger susan said...

What an interesting exercise. I'm tempted to follow your lead and construct a similar sort of inventory.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Ennis said...

A llama will be your friend for life.

11:55 AM  
Blogger jens said...

> it would be extraordinary to hear
> from them, so I guess they aren’t
> current friends

I'm of the mind that you don't HAVE to be actively engaged with somebody to consider them a friend. I haven't talked to my best man in years, but I still consider him among my best friends.

He is on the West coast, and he doesn't have a blog, but the last time I was in Reno I drove out to San Francisco to meet him, only to find that he had moved - and he met me when I drove back to Reno.

I met some old college buddies while I was in San Francisco, so the trip was in NO way wasted.

I think you mean "current companions", because when you care enough about somebody that they are a friend, you don't lose regard for them just because it is not convenient to hang out anymore.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I wasn't counting lapsed friends who are still of good will. They could be reactivated, but there would be many more of those.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

I like to think I have a lot of those lapsed friends. I'm pretty bad at keeping in contact with people, not because of "out of sight, out of mind," but because I feel guilty about not talking to them, which makes me avoid talking to them, which makes me feel guilty about...

4:15 PM  
Anonymous SwissarmyD said...

"I wasn't counting lapsed friends"

Lapsed? Lapsed. So is it something like a timeframe where they have an expiration date? I mean to say, that our frames of reference are so different that I can't imagine this. Dunno, s'pose it could be a guy thing...

People that I am friends with, or have ever been friends with have certain qualities, that made us compatible. Qualities that age and mature, but don't really change much. That is how I can call someone I haven't talked to in a very long time, and it seems like the thread of the conversation didn't end.

I suppose you could call it lapsed in some way because it wasn't current, but in our minds we are still friends, so...

we are still friends.

in some ways our lives fall out and change, sometimes near or far, but the qualitiy of being someone you can call after years of not talking, and tell them: "My son is in the ICU and I think dying..." and having 10 seconds of silence followed by: 'I can be there in 20, you're at Loyola, right?'

I mean geez, I get all choked up and stuff even 12 years later [the kid is now 13, I have a frelling teenager!?] That's just the depth it's at. 5 years on when he and his wife had a kid, and she had kept them up all night with colic, I got a call... shared the remedy... talked for a few hours.

We get together every couple of years, though now I live far away, and...
it's not lapsed, to me.

It's an interesting excercise you have done, because thinking something new is always a good thing, and the questions you ask always start that... ;)

8:09 PM  
Blogger Bri said...

Would you say that something has shifted culturally that does not seem to allow people to maintain solid friendly liaisons? Interesting post.

5:21 PM  

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