Thursday, December 2, 2010

This Friendship was "Mint" To Be (A Mama Kat Writers Workshop Prompt)

Mama's Losin' It

I usually let the random number generator "assign" me one of the five weekly Mama's Losin' It writing prompts. This week, the random number generator picked number 3: CONTROVERSY! Are the new security measures performed by the TSA really that bad? Take a stance! I am not writing to that prompt, partially because I am so hungry to travel almost anywhere that I wouldn't let a full-body scan and a little TSA churlishness get in my way. I chose prompt number 1, proposed by Elizabeth from Mama Sick: Have you ever had a fight with a long time best friend and never made up? Do you think about her from time to time and think about contacting her? What would you say? What if it didn’t work out? What if it did?

Answering prompt number 1 gives me an opportunity to look back on a time when a good friendship was fractured, to ask why the heck that happened, and to enthuse about how much happier we both are now that all of that is behind us (except when it is being resurrected in a blog, I suppose........)

Not everyone "gets" my humor. "J" did, immediately, and served it back to me. We were working on a project together at the State Department of Education. The people were great, the project was worthwhile, and friendship blossomed rapidly. We all worked together to produce a fantastic teleconference (back in the day when you had to have "I-Spy-like" coordinates to tell people how to talk to each other via satellite). The speed with which she and I bonded was second only to the speed with which entire sleeves of Thin Mint cookies seemed to go AWOL when either of us was around.

Then, somewhat abruptly, things got weird. There was a bit of a shift in the org chart, changing our positions slightly. There was a ........

....looking back on it I can't articulate how and why we went from "thick as thieves" to "not speaking." Several months of this went by, months when it was pretty challenging to be in such close physical proximity while our attitudes toward each other were inifinitely distant.

It takes a whole lot of energy, and I don't mean happy, "walking on sunshine" energy. I mean negative, "everyone around me ought to wallow down here in the angry ditch with me" energy to maintain this kind of personal freezeout.

I can still picture in my mind where I was (in my old little green duplex watching Seinfeld) when I called her. We chatted, did a little work on trying to figure out how we had gone from scarfing thin mints together to avoiding eye contact and putting up walls. Things were better for the next few months. Eventually, she moved away from Florida and I moved to a new job.

(fast elapse here of about fifteen years)

Enter Facebook, that intrepid facilitator of reunions.

She and I got reconnected via Facebook, and have had a fabulous time getting reacquainted, sharing thin mint reminiscences, and supporting each other. On days when no one else comments on my blog, I know I can almost always count on her chiming in. That is a priceless act of support.

What is the takeaway from this experience? For me, every single time I hear someone start a conversation that is essentially structured like this: "I haven't spoken to [name] in three weeks, ever since (s)he [list minor infraction/perceived inequity/etc. here]. The ball's in their court. They've gotta go first" I think to myself "you have started yourself on a death spiral - the more you pull your physical and emotional energy inward, the faster you will continue to descend as opposed to ascend." Many of these situations start out so minor, and we deprive ourselves of some very satisfying friendship time (not to mention annoying the people around us who are often caught in the middle) when we lack the courage to go ahead and address things early.

In October, J and I had a chance to meet up when she came to Tallahassee for a football game. We had a great visit over breakfast. The only thing missing was the thin mints.

The picture that J. tagged "me" in on my birthday!

A quarrel between friends, when made up, adds a new
 tie to friendship
. - St. Francis De Sales


Jen said...

This was a beautiful story of friendship. It just shows, that if its meant to be then it will be. No matter what and thanks to social media. :)

WashingTina said...

What an interesting story...and one that hit home with me for so many reasons. I've had two very close friends at two very different points in my life. In high school I was friends with M, who was a Thin Mint-friend, to coin a phrase. We did everything together. And then for one of those reasons that only teenage girls know, we drifted apart. Flash forward nearly 20 years and we reconnected via facebook. Thick as thieves again.

Another didn't take such a happy turn. My best friend, former roommate, the person I did everything with, a second sister, and I drifted apart shortly after I started seeing my now-husband. I tried so hard to keep things the way they had been, even blowing off the guy to spend time with my friend because I always hated those women who ditched their friends for a boyfriend. Unfortunately, it was not to be. We drifted, I moved out, and we haven't spoken in nearly 8 years. I think about her often, but also realize that she wasn't able to recognize that I was moving into a new phase in my life and that didn't mean I was leaving her just meant that things were changing. It was sad...but also showed me her true colors.

I'm so thankful for reconnecting with M, my high school friend, because we can still laugh like we did when we were 14, but part of me will always miss my other friend. Isn't it funny how friendships have expiration dates?

Great post!