Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friends, Part II

After venting my frustrations with our current living situation and past friendships yesterday, I feel that it is important to continue with my thoughts on friendship, if for no other reason, than to know that there is hope for the future.

As I was saying, I believe in loyal, long-term friendships. While I realize that isn't always the case, it's nice to know that there are people in the world we can depend on when we're down, when we want to have a good time, and when we just need someone who 'gets' us as an individual. I am a strange cookie though, and strange in my own strangely odd way. On the surface, I suppose I seem normal enough, but rest assured, I am different when it gets down to it. A bit about me:
1. I'm 34 years old
2. Married, with no children (and no real desire to ever have them, though I do think they can be fun)
3. Three dogs
4. We live in an area full of young families with multiple children, who have very different focus
5. I am a non-traditional, fine arts student at a college in Denver, but don't currently have a job
6. I had a 'real' career (prior to my second college round) in Human Resources, but also worked in Insurance and Higher Education (P.R. mostly)
7. I love bicycles (if that hasn't become abundantly clear) and want to ride whenever possible
8. Though I am a friendly person, I am hesitant to share a lot about myself with new people immediately (introverted, basically)
9. I am up for almost any adventure or new activity with little- to no- advance notice
10. I enjoy attending live sporting events, specifically football and basketball (though I am game for others)
11. I love music, though I likely couldn't tell you any musician/band names off the top of my head that weren't popular at least two to four decades ago
12. At heart, I am an earth-loving, animal-obsessed, always-wanting-to-roam, sometimes-cranky-for-no-reason, analytical-on-every-subject-that-matters-to-me, crazy, creative person
13. I believe in respecting all people, from all orientations, backgrounds, and religious beliefs - even if I don't necessarily agree with another's view point
14. I live a pretty tame, mellow, every day existence, and am totally okay with that (save for those spur of the moment adventures!)
And, despite all of these things I have listed, it could never fully describe the person I am. These are all, basically, surface items that don't really tell another human what this particular person is all about. Sure, it may give a sense of where I am in life presently, but what about things like knowing how I'll react when someone tells me that I have to do something, or knowing my true thoughts/feelings when I say that I don't have to get an 'A' in a class, and that I'm fine with that 89%?

I ask these questions because I recently reached the decision to start browsing friendship Craigslist ads. I was a little sad and weirded out to read some of them, and also wondered if there is any hope of finding true friends in adulthood. When reading the ads, many of them sound like advertisements one would put out to find a boyfriend/girlfriend/more-than-friends-relationship kind of thing. Though they state specifically in their posting that they are only looking for friends, the requirements some of the women desire seem entirely specific, and not really necessary for a friendship, at least to me.

For example, do you really need a thin friend? Yes, this was a specific requirement, or an alluded to necessity in more than one of the postings. How shallow can a person be? It also reminded me of a recent posting in which I vented frustrations with some people assuming because an individual is overweight, s/he is therefore out of shape. I'm totally down for a hike, a walk, a bike ride, etc, and not being thin doesn't take me away from that love of the outdoors. Are they just looking for people to pick up guys with? If that's the case, I'd think they'd want the larger friend with them because wouldn't most guys naturally be drawn to the smaller woman's svelte shape, rather than the bigger friend? I mean, it's not like I'm hideous or anything, but com'on, really?
See, totally adorable, right?
And then there are the requests for tattoo-free friends. Okay, I get it. There's a stereotype that goes along with tattoos, but haven't we reached a day when we can move on from the surface of someone's skin? I'm not a bar-hopping, drugged out freak, with no aspirations... I just happen to be tattooed. For goodness sake, I was the human resources representative for over a hundred employees, and at no point in time was I ever made aware of anyone fearing speaking to me about their issues, because they knew I'd do my best to resolve anything I could, or at very minimum, let them vent their frustrations to me. Seriously, I'm not a bad person just because I happen to have tattoos, and for that matter, I'm just not a bad person. Weird, yes. Bad, no. But, even weird is relative.
One tattooed arm (and there are more, though these are the most visible)
Making friends in my classes has turned out to be more challenging than I expected as well. While I have had friends of all ages, and enjoy them all for different reasons, I have to face the fact that a 19 year old, fresh out of high school, probably has little in common with me at this juncture in life. While we may hold similar interests in art, that subject is probably where our likenesses end. I'm not looking for someone who is me, or is exactly like me (in fact, that would be highly boring!), but I think there are core things that should be in place in order to have a lasting friendship of any sort. Whether the person is 18 or 80, there needs to be something that keeps the relationship together. It's also part of the interest in having various kinds of friends. They each bring something different, a new perspective, a nudge in a direction when needed, etc. Real friendships are a necessary part of life, otherwise it becomes far too easy to be completely self-absorbed and only see issues from one side.

Another factor is, without a doubt, our location. We live in a city (and not even in the actual city) that is full of families whose focus is soccer practice every Saturday and getting the kids to bed on time. While I don't object to friends having children, it makes it difficult to get together with any sort of regularity, particularly if one wants to participate in any activities that are non-child friendly. Even the local bike night (which I was highly excited to learn about this past spring), is densely populated by small children. It makes a fun bike night a bit more challenging, simply because everyone has concern for the children and keeping them safe. Not that kids shouldn't be the primary focus when there are issues of safety, but it's not exactly what I have in mind when I think of a bike night ride.

I have been fortunate to meet a few people semi-locally with whom I have formed a bond in recent months, and time will tell where those bonds leads us. Whether they will be life long friends, or friends-for-now remains to be seen, and honestly, I'm open to both. All I can do is be ready to explore the friendships, attempt to be a genuine me, and see where the journey takes us. After all, isn't the point of life to enjoy the journey, and not constantly dream of the destination?

6 comments:

  1. Seriously - someone actually posted on Craigslist that a quality they were looking for in a friend was being thin????!!! That's just crazy! As if that has anything to do with someone making a good friend?! Well, at least they were honest and put that out there so people can avoid someone so shallow!

    I know exactly what you mean about parents. I also don't mind having friends who are parents, but I have very few primarily due to the reason you stated - it's just usually so difficult to plan things around children. Even if parents we know get a sitter, they still have to be home at like 9:00p.m. or something, which rules out doing anything but possibly dinner. We've recently tried to branch out and are giving some neighborhood supper clubs a try, even though we realize that we're the only ones without kids. The thing that drives me craziest though is how some parents can't seem to talk about ANYTHING other than kid-related topics! I know that your life pretty much revolves around your kids, but sheesh, don't you have ANY interests of your own??

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  2. Yup! Totally serious. I thought it was insane, but as you pointed out, definitely a person to avoid as far as I'm concerned.

    Glad to know there are others who can identify in the world. Now, if only I can find these people within a 50 mile radius! :o)

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  3. I completely understand - why are people we seem to identify with most so far away?? :) You'd think there should be at least a couple of people in the same city!! In Atlanta though, since everything involves driving (for most people), and traffic is so horrendous, depending on where someone lives, the relationship can be dead in the water from the very beginning. For example, I live ITP (inside the perimeter) and over the years have met many people that I really like, but they live OTP (outside the perimeter). So, that means that I hardly ever see them because it takes such planning and it almost has to be on weekends only because if attempting to drive after work during the week, it could take half the night! Such a pain!!

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  4. I actually drove through Atlanta once about 7-8 years ago, on a return trip from Miami, FL. Georgia is such a beautiful place, and the people (the few I spoke with anyway) seemed extremely genuine and friendly. I've heard that the traffic situation is a nightmare in Atlanta though, but strangely, I sailed right through. Which is kind of a shame because if things had been backed up, I likely would have taken some time there and checked it out in more detail.

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  5. The traffic does get worse every single year, but it's really horrible primarily during rush hours. Our "rush hour" morning and evening is actually rush HOURS and lasts from about 7-9:30 a.m. and 4-7p.m.! If you can manage to travel between 10-3 it's usually OK :) Would you happen to have been driving through between those hours?

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  6. It was probably in the 10 o'clock hour, I'm guessing. I recall it was mid-to-late morning, but not much else about the time. I'll have to make sure to avoid Atlanta during the rush hour(s) during any future road trips. :o)

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