My circle of friends is composed of well-read, politically active people who are quick to judge and easy to annoy. They go to poetry readings, they work for nonprofit organizations either full time or on a volunteer basis and they are very vocal. They stay current on pop culture, indulge their artistic tendencies and speak in a Spanglish combination that takes years to perfect if you’re not born to it. They are a merciless bunch that have somehow become the barometer against which I measure others and myself. They are unique in a way that makes them almost irreplaceable.
Is that enough to consider them truly my friends? Somehow, I don’t think so.
What’s the difference between a friend and an acquaintance? I’ve been wondering about this for a while. I know a lot of people. People I met in high school. People I met in college. People I’ve worked with in a variety of different places. People I’ve met through my family, their friends and family. There are a lot of people I spend time with. I call them and they call me. We do lunch. We watch movies, we exchange personal information and sometimes we call each other friends.
What makes them friends and not acquaintances? Is it just the amount of time we spend together or the things we do when we hang out?
The truth is that even though I spend a lot of time with my circle of friends, I wouldn’t think to call them when I’m feeling blue. I wouldn’t go to them and tell them about the shadows in my nightmares, about the fears that take hold of me from time to time, about wishing that I had less of a conscience and was able to sell out my beliefs and ideals. I couldn’t bring myself to tell them about my fantasy to run away without ever looking back. I’d be too afraid of telling them too much, of revealing too large a part of myself. I’d be too afraid of being judged and hearing their mocking words or seeing their belittling stares. And maybe I’d be worried about nothing, maybe they’d be understanding and supportive, but I don’t believe so and so I don’t confide in them.
Does that mean that they’re bad friends, that I’m a bad friend or that we’re not really friends at all?
I don’t bond easily. I don’t trust easily. To make you understand the whys and why nots I’d have to show you the tapestry of my life and that would take too much time. The fact is that I’m not in the habit of turning to others for comfort and support. But even if I were, I’ve chosen to spend my time with a group of people who would never make the offer, who would never try to comfort me. They would tell me how to make it better, with an ounce of impatience in their voices, and then they’d move on to more important things.
I know that this rant doesn’t make one damn bit of sense to anyone else. It’s grounded in some personal stuff that’s going on right now. And, no, I don’t intend to share the particulars of what’s going on. One thing I did decide, when I saw the reaction to Lizzie’s journal, was that I’m not going to give you every single detail of my life.
I guess you’re not really my friends either.