a few new rules of friendship


Painting the MOST precious moment when we talk WITH friends. Not to. With.

Friendship’s a tricky business.

Just last week, in a prelude to a story, someone said ‘ well, you know how we have friends for different reasons?’ and I nodded yes, yes, and they launched into their tale. I missed the whole first minute, though, because I was thinking: what was I nodding along for? To say: yes, of course, we do, and that’s the way it should be?

It might be generally accepted, but a little part of me’s always been annoyed by it. Always. I just never had whatever it takes to figure it out (and if I had, I’m not sure what I’d have done with it.)

The older I get, though, the more I’m willing to be clear: I’ll take my friends being friends for all of me. The playful, the reckless, the adventurous, the political, the seriously, I’m just up for laughing, the angry, the what the hell’s wrong with the world, the … oh. You probably understood many examples ago.


Second version of the painting above. I love this idea and evidently intend to keep painting it til I get it right.

I’ve offered that kind of friendship to others – or at least I believe I have – but there’s not a lot you can do about friends who’ve got you compartmentalized. If someone calls to brainstorm their project (and there’s always a project), they don’t have any interest at all in hearing about what I’m doing. The friend who calls for philosophical therapy is utterly disinterested in a side discussion about keeping the creative flowing. In fact, that friend is utterly disinterested in a side discussion about anything. And my favorite least favorite is the friend who has me targeted for the latest romantic disaster. Friend doesn’t realize the latest romantic disaster’s been going on for ten years.

I’m tempted to concede that I might be very wrong and that we’re supposed to have friends for different reasons. Except that I have friends who ARE full on up-for-all-parts. They keep doors open for everything and no one stops anyone from running wild with their wit. No one bats an eye when things suddenly stop and get serious. There’s room for dreaminess and irritability and – OH NO! Another list!!

It’s a great kind of friendship. And all it takes is doing it.


22 thoughts on “a few new rules of friendship

  1. The thing I’m guilty of is once I’ve been compartmentalized (I do have a friend who talks about boys as though she’s a 13 year old who’s just discovered them) is that I probably start compartmentalizing [<– long word, whew!] back at them. Like, only making plans with Boycrazy when better options aren't available. Having said that, I know that I do need to work more on making sure the storytelling flows in both directions.

    • Oh, that’s pretty so true, isn’t it? Once the whole thing’s set in motion, why would we try to turn it into something else? I do try, but those people be like cats. They won’t put up with it for long.

      And, to be fair, if a friend suddenly decided I should know their illiterate vulgar inbred stupid self, I might pack up and go home, too.

  2. Well, some people don’t want to let you out of that compartment they have placed you in because you “serve” a specific need in their lives. Others take you as you are. I think there’s probably room for both, provided the boxing sorts do some giving in the give and take equation that a friendship requires. Otherwise, start billing by the hour for therapy services, and they might get the hint. Maybe.

    • Yes, yes, Cecilia. That’s probably exactly what’s in operation. I wish I’d been clearer (well, at least a little clearer). Friends who need the friendship to work like that are still very dear to me and I appreciate that they’re focused (for whatever reason) on One Big Theme. I really do. This is how life works. It turns out, though, that it’s a really limited ‘dearness.’ Once JP pointed it out, I realized I do that, too: put me in a box repeatedly, over a long time, and I’ll start doing the same back and next thing you know …

  3. You are right….Friendships are tricky. I am sure I am known as the friend who doesn’t return calls, dislikes lunching, shopping together, going for drinks or dinner etc. Many decades ago I became leery of “friends”……they narc on you, sleep with your husbands, lie to you and tell you your hair looks great. Social media friends for the most part don’t give a shit if you call, are logged on, comment or like….or maybe I am the weather whiner or the ultimate Debbie Downer….they’ll either unfriend me or not read my blog. And in the end if that’s their M.O. I don’t give a poop….been there, felt that.

    • I suppose plenty of people have never had friends who got the title ‘friend’ without actually behaving like one, but I’m not sure I know any. (That is the weirdest sentence of the week; I hope you can make sense of it.) I’m sure I’ve been a most mediocre friend – which makes it so much easier to understand when the ‘flaws’ show up in others. I like being forgiven my flaws a LOT. Funny, though. I don’t consider my not liking lunching or shopping or going for drinks together flaws of mine. Ha!!

  4. Yes, yes. I realized long ago that I am a person of extremes without much middle ground. I’m either that very extroverted, life-of-the-party gal entertaining people (unintentionally) with bad dance moves or I’m a super introverted, need-to-be-ALONE girl, huddled with low lights and my music and wine and books and my dog. I’m this way with a lot of things, so my bestest friends are the ones who get that, go with it, and who are also complicated and/or swing from self to self. That said, we all have our strengths and things that we suck at, so maybe I’m better to call for this thing and not that thing, and that’s okay, too. I just don’t want to be stuck ONLY in that box.

    Also, I continue to be delighted by your monsters. I just love them so much.

    • That said, we all have our strengths and things that we suck at, so maybe I’m better to call for this thing and not that thing, and that’s okay, too.

      Absolutely and good point! I don’t even want start the list of what I’m very wrong to call about. But phone calls are, by their nature, just selections of a friendship. They only start counting if they actually start adding up into something that can BE counted.

      I am NOT lying. I just deleted THE longest paragraph because after I wrote it, I realized it stopped having ANYthing at all to do with what we were talking about at least half way through. Oops.

      In the end, I currently believe that it’s what most people long for – not being stuck in one box. Getting the invitation to be much more. No. That sounds like a gift. Being allowed to be much more. I also currently believe that we’ve been trained to not expect it. Currently. I like using that word so I’ve got some wiggle room. :):)

      You don’t even KNOW how much those monsters love being loved. Really, when they feel it, they just start doing monstery things. :)

  5. one of my very best friends who is maybe 8-9 years younger than me has become a opinionated asshole who yells instead of speaking..it’s like a full time job remaining his friend..at one point I just held up my hands and said look, we’re going to have to talk about something else..and just say we agree to disagree..we can’t talk about this any longer or I’m going to have to tell you to shut the fuck up..so we started talking about the cowboys..my smart funny best friend has turned into a teabagger..holy fuckme.

    • Wow. That’s a whole other level of friendship rules, isn’t it? I’m really sorry, but also really impressed you found a way to keep the friendship. Crap. I’m sorry again! I have just a few friends who own different politics and we’re usually good unless they cross the line into insults. Actually, I don’t care what their politics are so much AS LONG as they walk the walk, too, and it’s surprising how many don’t.

  6. I have never been a good friend. I have friends who would argue that. But, that is because they are MY friends. I wager I’ve never really been one for them. I know this about myself in the same way I know that I’m not a great wife nor decent mother. I’m too selfish and curious to be much good to anyone who would have my loyalties. I don’t do loyal. I do authentic and fear. Those are my only contributions. You get all the realness you can handle. Unless I don’t think you will handle it. And then, I’m afraid, you get that. I don’t get mad or even judgey. I just go away. I would like to assume it’s due to my artsy-foofsy nature but, pretty sure it’s just because I’m an asshole. The saccharin of the “the oppressive, almost desperate sugar” crowd rots the teeth.

    • The material of friendship comes in all varieties, Ms. Hat, so I think you made a not very good bet there. Someone in the press (I can’t remember who. Someone. A celebrity.) said: I’m a really good friend. And I wondered what she meant. What that entailed. I spent real minutes on that one.

      Realness is a mighty precious commodity. All the rest of you – ok, let’s call it selfishness and irrepressible curiosity (frankly, I’ve never seen a hint of selfishness, except for that long ass absence, but … um (to mix posts) … So? What? I’d rather have you selfish and living what you need to live than plodding along on my account. I KNOW that last bit didn’t make sense, but it’s what came out of my fingers, so it’s staying.

    • Hat, I just wanted to say that your brand of friendiness has enormous value to people who also suck in various ways at friendship, like, oh, say, for example — just pulling this totally out of my ass — keeping in touch on a regular basis after moving out of the country or across the country. Because friends like you do not get judgy or purse your lips up like a cat’s asshole in disapproval when someone hypothetically fails and sucks ass at those kinds of things, and you make people feel like you’re truly friends regardless of how long it’s been since you talked or any of that kind of stuff. And that can be a huge relief and a really comforting feeling.

      Also, blogs should come with notifications because I’m not sure if you’ll ever see this, and I’m sure I won’t remember to tell you in any other venue. Because I suck.

      • We’ve had a power outage allllllll day long. We live in the most rickety section of the saddest part of the grid. Crap. ANYway. Otherwise, I’d have seen this and then made SURE Hat saw it, too. So, that’s what I’m doing now. Going to do now.

        PS. I seriously don’t understand the rules of friendship that have Hat AND you AND Rosemary even suggesting that you’re less than exactly what a friend should be.

        I don’t doubt that I fail miserably in a few columns (assuming someone’s keeping a spreadsheet) but then I think those people who believe I’m failing are asking me to be a kind of friend I’m not. A person I’m not. Instead of finding value in the kind of friend I am.

  7. Pingback: Sábado Ilustrado | la vida de miye

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