Sunday, June 01, 2003

I’ve gotten almost nothing done this weekend that I should. I didn’t finish my Sociology book. I didn’t finish any of my papers; about which, I must say, that I discovered, much to my own disgust yesterday, that there were actually three instead of two due. And while I’ve gotten a start on the one, the sad fact is that I probably won’t sleep for the next few days whilst working on everything I should have been doing all term.

In any case, I probably still won’t get much done today. I’m going to Daysi’s going away/birthday party and I have to drive to Columbus. The third paper, that I forgot, is due tomorrow. So while I haven’t worked on it at all, it needs to be done first. And the one I’ve worked on a bit, I still have a little time for. Guess I should get more organized.

After Rory’s post on friends, I’ve been thinking about them a little. That is to say that I’ve been thinking about friendship more than individual friends. Sometimes I’m a little surprised that I have any friends. It’s not a low self-esteem issue. I’m not saying that I don’t deserve friends, or that I couldn’t have any. But it still surprises me a little, given my personality and values, that I’m not alone. Working for companionship was never really high on my list of things that I really must do. And somehow I ended up with friends anyway.

Philosophically speaking, removing myself from the affection I have for certain individuals, I see limited value for friendship in my life. If I get really very sick, or if I can’t or don’t work, or if I have more children than I can naturally take care of on my own, I don’t have to look to friends to help me. The government fills that role in American society now, so it’s really quite a lot less important that I find people I can rely on. If I want someone to talk to, I don’t necessarily need a lifelong confidant. If I’m estranged from my family, I can always hire a psychiatrist. If I want something to do on a Saturday night, I’m by no means limited to a group. I can go anywhere I like singularly, safely and quickly. It’s not at all necessary to have friends.

At the same time, I can’t remove myself from my affection for certain individuals. While I could certainly easily survive without them, I have no urge to do so whatever. It’s not that I’m necessarily a social creature. I’m not really a social creature at all. I would generally prefer to live away from my friends, and meet them only on occasion. I would generally prefer gaps of time between our meetings. It isn’t that I have some inner drive to see my friends; sometimes I’m quite satisfied seeing no one for months at a time. But my joys are heightened when I’m with them, and nearly all of my jokes are funnier when someone else is there to laugh at them. And I’m still happier, I think, knowing that they’re there.

In any case, I have very strange friends. Among my core group, there is almost no sense of shared values, or interests, or even preferences. We don’t even really have the same senses of humor. The only thing I can think of that all of us certainly share is this very abstract imagination, that is, I suspect, in general very bored with the bare facts we see in front of us. It manifests differently in everyone, but I think that it’s still there.

So, in the style of old internet web pages, and quite in the imitation of Rory’s post of yesterday, personal salutations to friends I haven’t quite yet lost:

Angela: It seems like I’ve known you my entire life, even if I did only start to hang out with you in sixth grade. It’s funny to look back at all the pictures there are of us together, when neither of us really cared two whits about the other, when we were only half aware that the other was alive. I’ve fought with you, debated with you, harangued you, plotted against you, embarrassed you publicly, even stabbed you in the back, and you’ve done all of the same to me. Sometimes I wonder, given our history and our violent personalities, how it is that we still manage to talk to each other at all. But in a strange way, our friendship isn’t really dependent on liking each other all of the time. Even if you did something that made me infinitely angry, even if I grew to hate you, you would still be my friend. If we wanted to, we could stay up all night listing all of the evil things we’ve done to each other. And we could probably only spend a few hours listing the very nice things. But it doesn’t matter somehow. We’re there like the earth is there, like the sun rises and sets, like the rain falls on good and evil alike. We may not always be good to each other or good for each other; but there isn’t much in the world that you can count on like the earth, the stars, and the rain. I couldn’t ever just write you off, and I don’t suspect you could ever write me off. That makes you important to me in an almost entirely singular sort of way.

April: You’re the most baffling of my friends, and the most emotionally charged. You’re the person who I enjoy the most, and therefore also, the one who can piss me off the most. I’ve told you more about myself than anyone, and even though I know we have to get “back to [you],” you probably really do know more about me than anyone else. I’ve grown to depend on our little chats. I enjoy the little ways we pick on each other; the challenges we present to one another. You’re the only one of my friends with much power to make me feel quite bad about myself; you’re the only one of my friends who often goes out of her way to make me feel quite good about myself. I love the way we create our own little worlds: Attic man, Rudy, Which One?, ASS, Old Ladies, Shaddy, Glaucoma Dog. I love that you almost single-handedly created perversion in me. I love when I hear you say something quite morbid about drunk driving commercials, and I get to feel responsible for it. I love that we can make fun of literally anything together. I love that we don’t always have to talk when we’re together; that we have a “mature relationship.” I love that you’ll never read this unless someone makes you; I love that it frustrates me to all hell that you never read anything I’ve written. Anyway, I’ve disgustingly overused the word love in this section about you, so I’ll end it with something more appropriate. “Dear Shaddy Journal, today I told this fat chick that she was all cool and shit, and then once she got her hopes up, I told her she was a fat bitch and she’d die of cancer and SARS. She cried. Hahahaha, it was great! Signed, Shaddy.”

Rory: I never understood why you hung around the rest of us. You were different. In a sense, the rest of us chose the geek table; at least in the sense that we rejected what might have led us elsewhere. But our choices were sure as hell a bit more limited, and less obvious, than yours. You were always sort of my buddha character, rejecting the princeliness of the popular table, for whatever enlightenment you found at ours. You’re the friend I think, that’s changed the most since I met you. You’re the friend that I worry about the most; whose ideas I take the most seriously. You’re the friend I can really imagine doing great things in the world, or the most truly terrible things conversely. You’re the friend, I think, who’s most like me, and who I affect the least. You’re the friend who requires the least emotional attachment from me, but perhaps the most effort. You’re the only friend I have, who I think I could be separated from totally and absolutely for fifty years or a hundred, and who, upon reintroduction, I think I could just as easily discuss the sort of things we ordinarily discuss. You’re the friend I understand the most and the least, who I miss most, and am most quick to defend.

Ben, Jim, Jonathan, Mikey and Sarah: Five folks who’ve managed to influence me as much as anyone else on this list, even though I’ve never met any of them. Much has been said in the past few years of internet friendships, and I don’t care to repeat any of it because it’s largely bunk and cheesy anyway. But you guys have filled such a void in my life. You helped me learn to think, to properly form an argument, and how to send something off confidently. You’ve given me such independence and such pride in my own ideas. You've taught me such discipline and fierceness It’s a strange thing, but I know so few details of your lives, and yet I feel like I really do know your minds. So we only talk on message boards, about politics and religion and humanity; I share more with you than almost anyone, because we’ve read the same books, and we agree on the same systems of logic. It would be unnecessarily corny and personal to say that I loved any of you; I very likely don’t. But it’s true that I respect the holy living hell out of each and every last letter in all of your posts.

There, and now I'm tired. I could write a lot more. About Mike and his good naturedness, and his insecurity, and how I like his obsessions. Or how I remember old Mrs. Whistler yelling at Brooke and I on the bus, that we "seventh graders think [we're] hot stuff!" Or how much I enjoyed Amanda throwing up in my bathroom, explaining that she really did love me, really she did, etc. Or how Mark and I whored ourselves out for votes, and cheated our johns at the very last moment. But I won't today, because I have a lot of things to do and not much time to do it in.