Monday, June 07, 2010

Common

Weekend, my weekend. To quote that bard from Hobbiton, Josh Groban, you lift me up. Or, shall I say yoo leeft me aaaaaaaahp. Yes, yes I shall.


This weekend, I saw a bunch of my pals. And I was thinking about the diversity of my pal group. Not just ethnic diversity, but just that I have close friends of many ages, stages in life, and life experiences. It got me thinking about what I base my friendships on. Common interests? Not really. Age demographic? Nope. Profession? That's not it either. I mean, sometimes there is something to all of those things, but that's not really what brings my crew together. What is it then?

I have this one friend who throws parties sometimes, and whenever I go to those parties, I always notice that everyone at the party seems sort of the same. All really nice people, but they are all in the 30-35 age group, white, all married, all with little kids. I am not much different than these people, except for the kids thing, and the white thing, and even that is enough to make me feel like an oddball. In a situation like that I guess it's normal that I feel the differences highlighted, right? Not really that surprising.

And I think we all have those people in our lives who only seem to associate with people they know from work or who are of a particular profession. So if you show up to a party, it's 100% librarians, or 100% computer programmers, or whatever. Granted, I have a lot of librarian friends, so I see how this can happen. But at or near 100%? How do you get yourself into a space where that's all you've got? I don't know how that happens.

There is this other person that I knew, who seemed, on the surface, to sort of be my doppleganger in terms of common interests. Same (sort of) career, same age group, same family structure (hetero couple, no kids), same artistic sensibilities, same interest in dance, same interest in design and art, partner who (sort of) works in a Nordic Boy-related field, blogger, all around nice, kind person, vegetarian, pop culture interest, and on and on and on. She even had a parent that was really ill and had to find ways to deal with that. Um, yeah, ME TOO. Really, it was even down to things like the fact that she and I only wear skirts and are not much for pants. Come on, right? It seemed like we SHOULD be friends. And to be honest, I was sort of into the idea of us being friends and gave it a few earnest shots. But for whatever reason, she never was into me for friendship. I don't know why, but my friendship overtures never were reciprocated much and we seem destined to remain friendly acquaintances. I still think about her (we are still friendly acquaintances) and I wonder why, with so many things in common, we didn't click. It was my one attempt at connecting with someone on the basis of OMG SO MANY THINGS IN COMMON. And it was a total failure. I guess I just don't do well with those standards. I don't know. I am still sort of confused about it.

Anyway, I was just thinking about this whole idea about how we choose our friends because I saw so many of my most favorite peeps this weekend, and I am so thankful for the fact that we have different lives and different things going on. I love that it's all mixed up and that we all love and include each other no matter what our lives look like and that the common denominator is just that they are all kick ass, kind, lovely people. Do I miss out on having friends that have more things in common with me? Maybe I do, and I just don't know. Maybe I could be getting all sorts of support from pals who are just like me, or at least are more like me. I can totally see how that's true. My friend Alli and I have the most things in common out of all my friends, and I really do value that and see how awesome in-common-ness can be. But that's not the way things happen for my friendships on the whole. For whatever reason.

So rather than give you the rundown of my weekend, I shall just say this:

This weekend, I saw some of my closest peeps. Among them were single people, married people, coupled but not married people, people with babies, people with teenaged children, people with grown children, people without children. There were gay people and straight people, and people of different ethnicities. There were people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. Artists and librarians and service workers and retired people and moms and dads and techies and musicians and people without jobs.

When I think of my best friends, I don't think about them in terms of what I have in common with them. I don't care if they have kids and I don't. I don't care if they are 65 and retired. I don't care that they love mountain climbing and you wouldn't catch me doing that in a million billion years. I am just on the lookout for awesomeness. And if you're awesome, I want to be friends with you. That's all.

What is the top thing that you share in common with most of your best friends? Just curious. I don't mean this post as a way to dismiss friendships based on stuff y'all have in common. I just want to know what's happening out there. Do tell.

8 comments:

Jan Ross said...

I'm like you with having a variety of friends, but once I really thought about I realized we all have a good sense of humor. I can be pretty funny (uh, yeah...and have great SELF ESTEEM as well) and I'm friends with people who laugh until they cry when I make a comment. And I'm not friends with people who look at me funny when I make one of those comments. I guess that's my only friend criteria.

Journeyman Matt said...

LG,
I kinda don't like to go first since I've never met you and I'm like some stranger hanging out on your balcony, but I might not be able to reply later and I find this post really compelling; it's the kind of stuff I've written about myself. Early on, my close friendships formed around common outcastness. I was a spazzy kid and I clung loyally to anyone who would hang with me, who turned out to be pariahs themselves. In college frisbee players and people who liked to hike around here (I'm in your backyard, yo) just tended to friend up, and there were MILLIONS of people to be friends with in those days. You had to bat them away with cardboard wrapping paper rolls. Some of those lasted and are in my breast pocket even today, though many vanished. The thing that sneaked up on me is, I wasn't replenishing as I should have been -- too busy being a jerk, but that's another story -- so the crew was few by the time I met my bride. We mainly hung with folk dancers and other lefty music-artsy types, but when we married, it all shifted to couples and the singles drifted off (oura culpa, probably). Then when we became parents, and adoptive parents at that, it shifted again and we picked up more new moms and dads, and particularly those in the adoption support groups we'd attended. To me it seems like most of it is bound to either life-stage or common "heavy" experiences (common "interests" less so as time goes on). In my late 40s I find it really hard to make new male friends. They're all "taken" -- they already have their set guy friends to watch sports with, which I don't even GET sports. My head is full of really interesting things I've discovered or read about that I want to bounce off people. I really am profoundly moved by your story of the woman you had so much in common with but who just wasn't bitin'. I've found myself being really vulnerable and aggressively friendly at my bus stop, where there's this guy that I can just tell we could successfully hang out, even though he and his wife are a little younger than me and mine. But I feel so dorky even having to admit that I'm trying to make friends at my bus stop. I mean, isn't that wretched? But I work with 6 brilliant software engineers (nice guys, too) who spend their weekends making more software at home, and when I start talking about supporting local and independent businesses and growing my own peas they look at me cross-eyed with incomprehension, so khkkkhkhkck [sound of scratching them off list] and I have not done right by myself in pursuing the interests and hobbies that would put me in a position to make new friends. I don't know if I answered the question, but that's my truth, as prodded out of me by this very pertinent and timely post. Thank you. Thanks for that punch in the gut, LG. Sorry for the long comment, but hey, it makes you look controversial!

MAP said...

All of my close friends have this in common: they are very laid back. I have difficulty understanding people who get upset very easily or who must adhere to a schedule or who can't adjust to changing situations. That said, because most of my social life these days revolves around hanging out with other parents who are at my kids' activities, with that set of folks our common bond is being parents (mostly moms) of kids of similar ages. Like Journeyman I sometimes wonder how at this stage in my life I can make new friends based on my interests instead of that of my kids. I struggle with this a lot since my closest friends are the farthest in terms of geography.

But I am awesome too, so we should totally be friends!! :)

Shelly said...

The things I most have in common with my friends...

We share interests. This usually involves a mutual love for the same tv shows over the decades, a love for science fiction, that sort of thing. It also involves having fun and being silly.

We do have some other things in common, but it's the interests and enjoying each other's company, and making each other laugh that seals the deal.

dizz said...

This was a toughie. I wanted to write something really profound but when I thought about it decided it wasn't really necessary. Because really it can be written quite simply. Laughing out loud, general mischief and all round silliness, eat cake til it comes out of your ears, loyal through thick and thin and unconditional love - these are the things I have with my closest peeps. If you've got all of the above then I'll let you into my world :))

Melinda said...

I think that for the most part, the friends I love like family all share a certain unassuming attitude toward life. Most of them are funny, all of them are smart, and *almost* all of them were huge geeks as kids.

Jokingly, I've often said that I could pick "my people" out of a room full of strangers by arranging them all in a line, standing in front of them, and shouting out the line: "Dad, how can you hate the Colonel?" If you can shout out the answer, joyfully and without inhibition, you're in, baby.

Miss Dallas said...

Some of my coolest friends were born in the 40s and 50s.

That said, I have lots of friends that fall in several groups:

Friends I have over for dinner
Friends we go to kid-friendly parties with (we are childless)
Drinking buddies (BIG GROUP)
Knitting friends (lots of people in the 50- to 70-years-old group here.)

Barb said...

I think this has to be one of my favorite of your posts. I've been sitting here trying to think of what makes my friends, my friends and I honestly couldn't tell you. I too, have friends of all ages, races, interests, sexual orientation. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to talk to people ~ especially those who lead a completely different life than mine. I want to see the big picture from ALL sides.