A few years I saw a short by Miranda July.
A simple question, posed at several passer bys: "Are you the favorite person of anyone you know?"
How sure are you? Are you very sure? Somewhat sure?
How about another question, a question that nags: How important is this?
Lets get even more specific: how many people would say they really really like you?
About a week ago my old friend Eric dies. I heard about it... On facebook.
Ah facebook, you giver of givers, always informally allowing me to trickle in the tragedies of friends past.
And he was, indeed, a friend past. At the time I knew him, I actually think I knew him quite well. We had a certain kinetic energy to our conversations. Good friendship chemistry. The ability to really get into it and at it. The ability to laugh alot at nothing in particular.
Over the years we had lost touch. You know, different cities, different lives, different relationships, changes in values. All the usual stuff. He was still a stand up guy, I'm still a perfectly nice dame, the glue just wasn't there to hold that kind of long distance friendship together. No harm, no foul.
And yet I felt really bad when I heard. I mean, not just the usual "his poor wife, poor guy, that is awful, the world will miss him" kinda bad. But it hit me in a particularly harsh way.
When I woke up in my unexplained panic attack the other night. Checked on everyone, was sure something was wrong and missing, when I came to check my emails looking for concrete reasons behind the disturbance I found myself searching for old emails of his. Some old correspondence. Reminders of how we communicated. And it just hit me what he had to do with this little middle of the night freakout.
I noted a few posts back that I had a vague New Years resolution to spend more time around people I really liked. This is not really the truth. As much as I'd like to spend more time LESS annoyed and frustrated by my company this year, my motivation does not lie quite in that root. It would be much much more accurate to say I aim to spend some time around people I am pretty sure REALLY like ME this year.
And when I was thinking about this, searching emails, indiscrminately freaking out all over my house and the ether, it dawned on me that I am not exactly sure how to accomplish that goal.
I am not even sure who is on that list anymore.
It also dawns on me I spend alot of time being the friend of a friend who someone tolerates. Or an extra at a dinner party where most people are connecting but I provide reasonable filler. It dawns on me that not only do I kill alot of time, I kill alot of other peoples' time. Slowly, with the kind of innocuous and irrelevant input that one is likely to forget the moment they walk away. It dawns on me I very rarely walk away feeling like a mutually beneficial experience was had by all. Like I inspired, thrilled, exctied. Like I was like, really really liked. More often I feel like I am standing there. And we are talking. And it's fine. And soon they'll be talking to someone else. And who knows what I said. And who cares. They weren't there to see me. I can't really say I was there to see them.
And although I hadn't spoken to Eric in years one thing I remember about the time we were friends was that we liked eachother. We had great conversations. He liked me. LIKED me. Or atleast did a very reasonable job appearing to. Hell, even for that I'd give him a high five.
And when I think of that I miss it.
And I also realize I can look back and count, on not too many fingers, the amount of people I have had that experience with. Which is not to say I haven't been fortunate enough to know tons of wonderful people. I most certainly have.
It is only say...
Well, look: connecting is hard. Atleast it is for most of us, I expect. And to find someone you have the kind of chemistry with that inspires true friendship, bonafide giddy affection is a rarity indeed. To have a conversation that inspires you, that makes you feel inspiring. That is golden. That is beautiful.
To be close. Well, to be close to someone, when you think they are amazing. Who thinks you are amazing. And you are sure. Very sure. Completely sure. That, frankly, is holy.
And so I think we often fake it. We fake it to make it. Sometimes it works. At any rate it's the polite thing to do. People have friends and they have friends and more often than not we end up in a room full of them.
And if we are lucky we spend time around people we atleast feel like we should like. Appreciate. Acadmically if you will. And if you are a reasonably decent person it seems like they should like you back. And so we try to share a certain muted mutual admiration, if not necessarily love.
And you know what that amounts to: loneliness.
Plain and simple and no other way to put it.
Go out and fly to other cities and sleep on people's couches and search high and low for people who like you as much as you like them.
Find wonderful people. But not just wonderful people.
Find people who laugh at your jokes because hot damn you are funny and they can hardly believe how much. Find people who believe what you say, and want to learn more. Find people who smile when they think of you and call you on the phone and wonder, just randomly sometimes, how the hell you are doing. How you are really doing.
Find them. And keep them near. Because as awesome as you are it's not as easy as it sounds. But it's a worthy goal to pursue.