Sunday, October 14, 2012

On Friendships Across a Lifetime

My Wedding - Big Transition!
I haven’t completely given up on this blog, but it has been a while since I have written - apologies to my readers!  Today I am feeling nostalgic and figured I’d share some of what has been on my mind lately.   I’m currently in the process of moving across town to live with my new husband and am also part of a new office and department at work – in almost every phase of my life, things are shifting and changing, mostly for the better.

My AGD Girls in College!
One side effect of all of this change and transition is it is reminding me of the phases and people and memories that have come before this current one.   I find myself pondering a line from Nelly Furtado’s song, “Try.”  It goes, “I have lived so many lives, though I’m not old…”  That quote really resonates with me – as I think back over the years to my childhood and high school days in the Chicago suburbs, undergraduate days in Indiana, post-undergraduate days in Cincinnati, grad school days in Columbus, Girly Girl days when I first moved to San Francisco, then my Geek Love days in San Francisco, and now my Biodanza days in San Francisco.   I’ve also had many wonderful colleagues come and go throughout that time.

In addition to the friends and acquaintances that I’ve made through activities and other things directly related to me, I’ve also formed relationships over the years through people that I’ve dated – my first husband, my post-divorce relationships, and now through my second husband. 

On one hand, I feel blessed and grateful for all of these friendships –and I’m still friends with many of these individuals on Facebook and through other virtual means.  I enjoy catching up on what they are up to and cheer them on as they get new jobs, new relationships, and now as many of them become parents.  

But, I am also aware that as I have moved around and across the country and as I have moved out of these various phases and love relationships that my connection with many of these friends has weakened over the years.  Most of the fault for that lies with me.  I am unfailingly bad at maintaining long-distance relationships – and often have trouble picking up the phone and calling people who even live in the same city as me. 

I suspect that I am not alone in this quandary – or at least I hope I am not.  In this day and age, it seems to be not unusual to have wide networks of acquaintances and online connections but few deep, lifelong core friendships.   I don’t quite know how to fix this – it seems to take up most of my energy just to make time to go home and reconnect with my family in Chicago each year – I worry even that those relationships suffer from my distance away.

I saw a cartoon on Facebook the other day that showed someone’s wake with only one person there in the audience discussing how surprised they were to see the place empty because the person has so many friends on Facebook.  I laughed – but I also secretly cringed wondering if that will be me someday.

Do you think this technology that we have is a blessing or a curse?  On one hand, it is a lifeline for me because I still keep up with friends around my phone on my smartphone on the bus, but maybe it is also a curse because it lulls me into a false sense of security – it gives me a false impression that I am “keeping up my friendships” when really I am missing some deeper, more authentic way to do it. 

My husband is a master at calling his friends frequently – he is constantly chatting with people on the phone and making plans to see them and talking about what is going on in their lives – I am really inspired watching him and suspect that he is on to something, but also exhausted watching him.  When I come work at the end of the day or am relaxing after a long work week of working with students, the last thing I want to do is pick up the phone and call someone.  Yet, who has more close friendships?  Who has friendships that have lasted a lifetime?

Someone passed me a quote once that said something like, “Friendships are there for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.”  I really like that quote – and I also like that you can’t predict in advance which of the three will be true for your relationships.  I do hope to make some close friendships with fellow moms when I have kids someday and have heard that those can be some of the closest friendships. 

Still, how do you make and keep those friendships that do last for a lifetime?  And, how do you know where to even start?  Which phase of your life do you pull from?  Should you focus on the people that you click the most with?  The people who are available the most?  The people who live closest to you? 

My Wonderful Bridesmaids
So many people over the years are near and dear to my heart (hopefully some of you reading this), and it is not for lack of love that I don’t keep in touch better.  I wish I was stronger at maintaining friendships and I do get lonely sometimes.  I was just listening to the song, “Now and Forever” by Carole King and really teared up – somehow this latest round of transitions is really bringing up old memories and making me miss my friends near and far more than usual - even as I'm busy organizing and packing and taking care of logistics. 

My Wonderful Family
I do think about moving back to the Midwest, too – and maybe I will someday.   I spend my life feeling torn between two coasts.  I love my job and the work that I do out here at the University of San Francisco, I love the weather out here (esp. when it’s not foggy), and I love the culture and opportunities available out in San Francisco.  But, I miss being closer to the people I love in the Midwest and being able to drive to Bloomington or Louisville or Cincinnati for a road trip.   I miss being able to really be there for and with my friends who have kids – to experience more than just the pictures or an occasional visit.   I miss casual get togethers with friends – birthday parties and potlucks and holiday celebrations other than the big ones.  When I have my own family, I desperately want them to experience the kind of love and camaraderie that I grew up with.

What will the future hold?  I don’t know – I suspect that this problem isn’t going to go away and that I will be torn between two coasts for more than a little while.  After all, even I did move back to Chicago, I would be missing the life and the connections that I have out here.

My Wonderful Mom - She Is My Best Friend!
I don’t have any easy answers – but I try to be open and honest on this blog.  And, this is what is on my mind today – and has been for a while now.  For those of you that I know personally, I miss you – and I hope that we get to connect more soon.  You are very important to me, and I cherish the memories that we have together.  

For those of you that I don’t know personally, hopefully this has raised some questions or made you think more deeply about a predicament that I believe is emblematic of the age we are in – as life flies by and connections come and go, how you make and maintain friendships across a lifetime?   Are Twitter and Facebook the answer – or is there something more that we are missing?

Nelly Furtado - "Try"

Carole King - "Now and Forever"

Now and Forever Lyrics
Songwriters: KING, CAROLE

Now and forever, you are a part of me
And the memory cuts like a knife
Didn't we find the ecstasy, didn't we share the daylight
When you walked into my life

Now and forever, I'll remember
All the promises still unbroken
And think about all the words between us
That never needed to be spoken

We had a moment, just one moment
That will last beyond a dream, beyond a lifetime
We are the lucky ones
Some people never get to do all we got to do
Now and forever, I will always think of you

Didn't we come together, didn't we live together
Didn't we cry together
Didn't we play together, didn't we love together
And together we lit up the world

I miss the tears, I miss the laughter
I miss the day we met and all that followed after

Sometimes I wish I could always be with you
The way we used to do
Now and forever, I will always think of you
Now and forever, I will always be with you

[ Lyrics from: ]


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