I had a couple of friends come back to me recently. By come back, I mean that sometimes, friendships fall away or become broken just like romantic relationships do, because that’s how life goes sometimes. “Work” friendships in particular are this way; you have something in common when you work together, then when you one of you gets another job, the friendship falls away. But “sometimes they come back” (anyone know that reference without googling?).
I’m glad I’m the kind of person people look up after falling out of contact. Old lovers, friends from the early days of childhood, and friends I’ve made in adulthood, who lost track, lost touch, whatever, but want to come back. I like that.
I try to be as good a friend as I can. I show up where and when I say I will. If you are not an electronics person, I call you, or even write letters. If you are online, I try to keep in touch that way. I invite people to do things and buy a drink for a friend here and there as finances allow. I don’t do a lot of entertaining at home for a variety of reasons, but I try to get out when I can and to see friends, I think it’s important. It’s one of the main components to the glue that keeps me in this gray, cold city year after year.
Sometimes friends move away, or the friendship started across wide distances to begin with, usually online. Many of my mom-friends are miles away. I visited one in Florida a couple of years ago and will visit another in DC. Others have made their way specifically through Cleveland in traveling so that we could connect. All of these are good things. And then there are other friends I always try to see when I’m in their neighborhood – LA, Atlanta, NYC, Chicago. It is both a blessing and a curse to have friends far away; through social media and free long distance, we can keep in touch, but I miss them, and their physical company; sitting on a patio as the sun goes down and sharing wine, or out to a busy, tony restaurant as I look around bewildered with happiness at the combination of new, great food and old, fabulous friends.
I’m also a good friend to new people. Strangers regularly talk to me if I sit at a bar somewhere, opening up quickly about deep secrets – family drama, problems with children or spouses, money or health troubles. I would have made a good bartender, I guess. Maybe I let people know that they can communicate with me; I am open, I do not judge, and I like to hear people’s stories, and share my own. That comes across, I think. Sometimes these turn into longer-term friendships and sometimes they are just a pleasant way to pass a couple of hours while you have a meal and a drink.
I like to catch up with those boomerang people; it’s amazing how much can happen in two or three years’ time. I can’t help thinking how we are each closer to death, given my obsessions of late, but also of how glad it makes my heart that I was remembered in theirs, that they reached out and that we are again in each other’s spheres.
There are others I want to draw closer; the mix is ever-changing and I enjoy watching it change. As old friends come back and acquaintances become actual friends, it’s like stirring a complex soup. I want to do better with this aspect; life is too short to look over my shoulder and say “I should have invited them…” “I wish I had gone to that…” “We never had that lunch.”
Life is busy and many things occupy the hours each day. But if I am lacking or have fallen out of your sphere unintentionally, reach out. Say hello. Come back.