Wednesday, April 6, 2016


In recent years, aided by social media, the term "introvert" has become a label...some kind of cross between a psychiatric diagnosis and a badge of honor.  The general public is admonished to "get" us introverts, to treat us with understanding and care.  And we ourselves are encouraged to be "out and proud" about our introspective, anti-social behavior.  As if it's an indication of our superiority to the rest of the population. 

I am neither ashamed nor proud of being an introvert.  It is what it is.  It is what I am.  Often, it's just...a pain in the ass.  Because, at least in my case, being an introvert has not negated my need to be belong to some kind of community.  While I'm not one of those people who is not okay alone, I do pine for some connection---and I have never in my life been successful at building or maintaining social connections.
Lately, I've been almost overwhelmed by the solitude I thought was essential to my well-being.  There is a wise saying that goes something like, "Everything in moderation."  Solitude may be something I crave and need...but too much of anything puts one's life out of balance.  I SO need a friend right now--the kind of friend that seems to be the only one that works for me.  The kind of friend I did have, once upon a time.   

When I was a girl, I had that one friend.  We met in first grade, but were only schoolyard acquaintances for several years.  In junior high, we somehow bonded and became inseparable.  We traversed the minefield of high school, early career and young love side by side.  I was her maid of honor...she was mine.   But, being  basically a bond between two introverts, it was a complicated and unusual friendship.  We hung out together.  We played sports, we played cards, we played board games.  We got involved in projects--we painted living rooms and remodeled kitchens.  We each called the other's parents, "Mom and Dad."  We were together so much, people thought we were sisters.  But we didn'  We didn't share our hopes, our dreams, our plans.  In fact, it's almost as if we were too embarrassed by deep emotion to share that with each other.  What was deep inside each of us, remained there.  And yet, the relationship worked, for many years.

I wonder if our bond was endemic to the era, when the soppy modern concept of "BFF" really didn't exist...before over-sharing became the quantifier of a worthy friendship.    When I've looked back upon our relationship, I've called it a friendship of shared experiences rather than emotions.  And lately when I looked back on those days, I have thought perhaps our friendship was a bad thing.  As if what we had was somehow inferior or incomplete.

We were friends, almost sisters, for more than twenty years.  After the husband and I moved to Oregon, my friend and I gradually lost touch.  Which kind of makes sense...we just didn't seem capable of turning that dynamic of shared experiences into a long-distance relationship.  Writing letters back and forth (which we did for several years after our move) brought into play the sharing of thoughts and emotions that I don't think we were ever comfortable with.  Eventually, she disappeared from my life--intentionally, I have no doubt. 

She ended the relationship for good, when she changed locations and very pointedly did not let me know where she had gone.  I'm pretty sure she knows where I am--we've been here 15 years and it would be easy enough for her to contact me, if she wanted to.  I, on the other hand, have tried searching for her online, only to come up empty...I can only conclude that's how she wants it.  It makes me sad, but it is what it is. 

I have a picture of the two of us together, on the day of our graduation from high school.  It's almost 43 years old...a glossy color instamatic photo that I dug out of a box and pinned to the bulletin board in my office.  But the light and air of life outside the box have not been kind to it.   
It's you remember the movie "Back to the Future," where Marty has a photo of his family that keeps changing as he changes history?  That's what my little glossy picture has done...  Over the years, it has washed out, until only our outlines are visible...our faces, our features, have faded away.  It's become a metaphor for...our friendship.  Our youth?  Our lives?  MY life? 
"Don't it always seem to go
that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?"

1 comment:

  1. I'm an introvert, too, and friendships are difficult. I have very few close friends, and none of them live near me. I have one friend whom I've known for almost 40 years, and it's no exaggeration to say I loved her, and I loved who I was when I was with her. She's one of the funniest people I know, and we clicked in a way that when we were together, we would end up quipping and just laughing and laughing and laughing; totally enjoying each other's company. I went to visit her about 10 years ago, and realized, with a shock, that she has a serious drinking problem. Hell, she's an alcoholic. And I don't know if it's the alcohol, or getting older, but she's become so right wing conservative with age that although I'll always love her, I can't actually talk with her about much of anything. And that makes me very sad.