Dear Eleanor and Wesley,
I will only claim two things about Friendship: I don’t understand it and every time I thought I did, it changed. I’ve had a lot of folks whom I have called friends over the years. Some of them were certainly close friends. I’ve even been lucky enough to have a few I would call best friends. There was David in Kansas who introduced me to Saturdays packed dawn to dusk with reading Goosebumps books and playing Street Fighter II. There was Zach, whose car stereo pumped Incubus at levels certain to destroy our hearing long before his crashing cymbals and mad drum fills ever did. There was David, who took me across the street to the best patio in Tempe and bought me my first beer at midnight on my 21st birthday. I could go on, but by this point you’ve wandered into your own recollections and your own stories.
What is a friend? We say things like “they are the people who will always be there for me.” That is true, but it is beside the point. C.S. Lewis, a great author, gets much closer when he writes this: “The mark of perfect Friendship is not that help will be given when the pinch comes (of course it will) but that, having been given, it makes no difference at all. It was a distraction, an anomaly. It was a horrible waste of the time, always too short, that we had together.” Friends are the people WE want to be around doing the things WE love to do together. That makes friendship incredible and incredibly tricky.
The drama of friendship can be endlessly exhausting. It is no where near the drama of romance, but still full of highs and lows. The questions are what really get to you: Why did they do that? Why did they say this? Why didn’t I get the phone call? Why don’t I get the joke? In the end it usually comes down to a simple question: Are we really friends? That sounds like a pre-teen girl scratching emotional outbursts into a diary, but I swear that grown men and grown women spend so much time and energy asking these same questions. I have spent time digging through the emotions and the doubt. I wish I could save you from the ache these questions create, but at least you can know that you are not alone in them.
Here are the few things I have learned. An engaged curiousity is the best way to find a friend. Find a new thing in this world to be fascinated with and you will find someone else who cannot wait to join in. Curiousity is a double-edged sword though. Become fascinated with stupid, shallow, and dangerous things and you will be friends with stupid, shallow, and dangerous people. I think you two can do better. When it comes to being a friend, honesty will get you a lot farther than “cool” will. If you are trying to fake something, then the work you are putting in is never going to be worth it.
The hardest thing that I’ve had to learn is that friendship exists within a moment. It is incredibly susceptible to change. Don’t get me wrong, friends can last a lifetime, but it almost always rests upon a pivitol shared time. Do not worry if things start to change, it’ll be okay. Sometimes the friendship becomes something different, other times everyone just kinda moves on. In a few rare instances, the connections are strong enough that they never really go away. That kind of love in Friendship is incredible. It makes the people closest to you feel like family. I’m convinced family is the best kind of thing and we’ve got a good one, so whatever your friendship situation is, we are pretty lucky.