Thursday, May 17, 2007

Friends

I am the youngest in my family. The tail-ender. The "baby." But I am mystified when other youngest siblings giggle about how spoiled they were, how the whole family petted and fussed over them. Ummmm…not. The thing I remember most about my early life was the laundry list of things I couldn’t do. It chafed no end that I was always the last to "get to" do things. Any things. Even things like mowing the lawn or washing the dishes. I was—and still am—a fiercely independent little cuss. I wanted to DO things.  And I wanted to do them by myself. No leg up from a sister or a parent. Not that I was offered one…

In good time, I did get to do things.  But I always felt that by the time I did them—starting school, graduation, learning to drive—they had been done to death. Things that were way important to me were stale and boring to the rest of the family. Why, then, didn’t I strive to achieve greater things than any of my sisters had? I could have been the first to go to college, or the first to hitchhike across Europe. For some reason, I wasn’t capable of thinking that big. Maybe it mattered too much that my little accomplishments went so unnoticed. Maybe I couldn’t have born it if I had done something really big and met with the same ennui.

Eventually, I learned to be my own cheerleader. I understood that my motivation and satisfaction had to come from somewhere inside me. I piled up the bricks and built my own little staircases to get me where I wanted to go. I may not have gone much of anywhere, but the places I did go, the things I did achieve, I did on my own.

Still, it hasn’t escaped my notice that something is missing from my life. When I hear other women testify that they couldn’t have made it through without their circle of closest friends—this core group of women they’ve known and shared with for umpteen years—I look down and I see nothing but my own empty hands. I've spent my life with my head down, totally focused on doing "it" on my own. Not a good way to collect a circle of friends. I’ve had women friends, but they've always stayed at a discreet distance. I’ve never had any friend with whom I’ve shared the deep secrets of my soul.  You have to be willing to give depth to get depth.  I never could.   

But there have been times when I could really have used a friend. When my sister was ill. When my dad died. During this intense period of adjustment with the restaurant. Wouldn’t it be nice, I sometimes think, to have someone to sit and relax with, to bounce ideas off of; someone who would drag me away from whatever demon I’m currently wrestling to go have a glass of wine and listen to some music or something?

But I’ve never had that, and I imagine I never will. It’s just a little pipe-dream that runs through my head from time to time. I am utterly incapable of allowing myself to need other people in that way. For whatever reason, when life’s building blocks were put in front of me in my earliest days, I chose to build staircases—and walls—instead of bridges. For good or ill, I have determined to wrestle my demons alone.

Giving credit where credit is due, this entry was inspired by Cynthia, who posted a quite different essay on friends...


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9 comments:

  1. Interesting Lisa, because I lived the life you didn't as the baby.  Everyone 'oh'ed and ah'ed' me to death and THAT put pressure on to always perform more and better!  LOL.  But I did LOVE my childhood.  I did.

    You may not NEED a friend that you give depth to and get depth from ... but you can CHOOSE to find a friend to share your life with.  A friend other than  your spouse.  It's often about overlooking the 'things' you don't like and thoroughly enjoying the 'things' you do like about another.

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  2. Another thing we have in common --I'm the "baby" in my family, and I wasn't a petted princess.  I was just reminded constantly of what all I couldn't do.  I wouldn't have made it without my friends.  I know that, but honesty demands that I admit that sometimes great amounts of time, years even,  have passed without contact with even my closest friends.  Despite that, we hang onto each other and pick things up even when the friendship has gotten very dusty.  It's a strange, rich and complicated thing.  I build my walls more often than I'd like, but I always remember the shortcut to the bridges.

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  3. I do not have a circle of friends.  I do have a "best friend".  I swear we are soul mates.  We have been friends since we have been adolescant girls.  My best girl lives all the way down in LA so we don't have the luxery of seeing each other whenever we want but we still remain close in heart and soul to one another.  We don't always agree we drive each other nuts at times but we each understand the other at the core of our very being.  Being friends can be scarry. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    Hey Lisa, I'll be your friend. :)

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  4. I think I kow a little how you feel. I have had very few close friends either. I do wish we were closer. Maybe we can get a virtual wine tasting party going.

    Jackie

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  5. I don't recall friends from my childhood.  Now I have a few but none of them are real close.  I am close to my sister but both of us have things we have never shared.

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  6. P.S. I like the idea of the "virtual wine party", although I might keep to juice.

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  7. Are you my twin?

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  8. lightyears2venusMay 25, 2007 at 10:13 PM

    You are always so honest about your Self in your writing, which I admire greatly.  You may not have a friend with whom you've shared the deep secrets of your soul, but it seems like you have some rather good friends here and from what I've read have a deep relationship with your husband.  Two out of three ain't bad!
    *debbi*

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  9. I know how you feel. I've learned to appreciate the saying "if you die with one true friend, consider yourself lucky".

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