A few weeks ago I was working a new job. Everyone around me was really experienced and whether or not it was actually true I was really self conscious that they were judging me, hating me. They were used to working with people who were veterans at this and I was slowing things down.
I don’t like doing things that I don’t feel I can conquer immediately.
But too bad for me.
The guy who was in charge of training me was so accommodating. Sitting right next to me and answering my every question no matter how inane.
I’ll never forget the day I turned to him with tears in my eyes. Facing away from the rest of the group so only he could see. His face melted. “Ok, I know that my face is doing this thing right now but it’s just my face. Ignore it and tell me that this is actually going just fine and I need to relax and just do the job. I know that the fact that I’m crying is written on my face but just ignore it and it’ll go away. It isn’t real.”
And when he ignored the thing my face was doing, it went away. And my gratitude at having him in that situation was immense. For all the things I appreciate about him, that moment was one of my favorites.
Plus, it helped me feel better.
I broke up with a guy.
Ha, I mean, break up is a strong phrase. We had three dates and some heavy petting. Then some water and a really great conversation about our pasts.
But he’s not the guy for me. I knew it quickly.
The conversation we had just before I booted him was pretty great. We talked through his exes, what they taught him, just stuff.
He took it gracefully. I told him we needed to end the romantic part of our relationship because it wasn’t leading anywhere and then we both giggled and agreed about how much we wanted to stay friends.
We got lunch and texted a bunch in the week that followed. It seems to be going well.
Wanna come over and eat brownies and watch Lemonade?
Uh, yes. Duh.
And then we were back on my couch, he occasionally mumbled comments through the “visual album” which I consistently hushed. No talking allowed.
Then, as I was preparing to kick him out and brush my teeth he snuck in
Thanks for our conversation last week. I’ve never talked like that with anyone before, gotten to examine those things. It was really cool.
You don’t have friends you talk things through with?
Some of my female friends but yeah, none of my guy friends. I talk through their stuff sometimes but for some reason never my own. I’m even nervous right now, having this conversation.
Well in that situation we must continue it!
Guys. What are you doing? Be better friends to each other! It’s depressing and boring when me breaking up with you is the most relevant and vulnerable conversation you’ve ever had. I want to live in a better world than that. I want to live in a more supportive world than that. I want to live in a world where men can have intimate conversations with me without shaking. Where maybe they’ve asked themselves these questions before.
This stupid Buzzfeed article keeps popping up and bothering me.
Things like ‘you have horrible pictures of each other’ and every sentence starts with ‘remember when?’
Having old friends is great. I love the few old friends I still have (shout out to one who just got engaged this week!). But the truth is that I don’t have many of them. My first best friend, I love her but she has her own life, arguably both more exciting and more mature than mine. I see her when I can (and love it) but even when we were small it never felt like we were each others highest priorities. We’d take a picture together at a bar mitzvah and then immediately run off to our other friends. We were admittedly best friends of convenience in a class that had three girls in it.
The next girl I called my best friend is full of the testing, the emotional betrayal and the underhanded digs that you’d expect from Regina George. I look back on the time together and see myself as the victim. I’m sure the moments I pushed back live on in her memory as the abuses she had to endure. And while I do remember my aching need to show her my undying loyalty to her, the memory of it brings to mind one of my favorite quotes from We Need To Talk About Kevin,
Before you condemn me utterly, I beg you to understand how hard I’d been trying to be a good mother. But trying to be a good mother may be as distant from being a good mother as trying to have a good time is from truly having one. [x]
When we graduated and weren’t physically close anymore it took us about a year of pretending to still care before she sent me a long, accusatory email, dismissing me from her life. I had just moved into a new apartment that day and I remember reading her message, a smidgen of heat rising to my face and then just deleting it and thinking how quick and painless that long overdue breakup was.
It’s the friends who I’ve made since then who I feel are worth keeping.
My roommate from college who I think of literally daily.
The friends who live in other cities and who I’ve started sending postcards to.
The friends I’ve made since my dad died. Who were there, who listened to everything good and bad that spewed out of me and are still a part of my life.
And the common thread is me. Maybe I’m just better at being a friend now than I was in the past. Maybe I care more about doing a decent job at it.
So take that Buzzfeed!
This weekend I had a surprise visit from one of my most beloved long distance friendships.
And while we were brunching he said one of my favorite things.
One of the things I hate about being a black man writing about race is knowing that somewhere out there is some white dude who is going to take my opinion (as of this moment, knowing only what I know and feel as of today) and use it as gospel with which to abuse some other black person who happens to have a different opinion from me.
And if he doesn’t exist yet then just by writing it I’ll have popped him into existence.
But you get the gist.
By being a part of this group I get to have an opinion based on my experiences. But that doesn’t mean that you get to take that opinion and run with it, ‘splaining it to everyone who might disagree with me. And worst, using it to abuse them and call them wrong, invalidate their experiences. You get to think a little deeper about the topic. You get to fold it into yourself and make more considerate decisions.
He meta’s even my metas.
Raise a glass to freedom.
As we all know, I started this scary new job.
I’m not entirely sure how I’m doing yet.
Hey, my roommate wants to know how I’m doing so far. What should I tell her?
Crushing it. It’s unrecognizable, that’s how hard it’s been crushed.
I’m pretty grateful for this encouragement.
And to show my appreciation from now on I promise to stop suggesting all the people who I think would be doing this job infinitely better than me and just go forth with your support and a (sometimes false) air of confidence.
We re-open our doors for toxic people and call it seeking closure.
When I was in high school I hurt a friend of mine. Well, I thought we were friends, I doubt she thought so as much as I did and she certainly doesn’t at all anymore. Our paths brush past each other occasionally and we don’t talk, anyone in the room with us would assume that we are strangers. She gives me a wide berth and I do the same.
But it does twist a small knife in my gut knowing that there’s someone out there holding this grudge against me.
A few years ago I lost another friend. He I felt much closer to and that friend-breakup hurt a lot more even though he was letting me go from states away whereas she and I were forced to walk the same high school halls for months in silence.
That kind of rejection killed me. It still makes me feel awful when I think about the fact that there’s someone out there who feels so strongly about me that he was willing to break my heart just to be free of my friendship.
During my last breakup I was asked “Can’t we be friends?” and I immediately responded with my honest opinion, “Why should I bother? You’re not worth being friends with. You aren’t smart enough or talented enough or interesting enough for me to cart your dead weight around as a friend. Plus I’m in love with you and I’m not going to do that to myself.”
Vicious is the word you’re thinking of.
I said it to be hurtful but also because it felt true. The pain of being his friend would doubtless be greater than any small pleasure I might get from listening to his music or jokes. But 5 months later, though I don’t think I was wrong to say those things, I feel the guilt that he could be walking through the world feeling the weight of being hated, the same weight I feel knowing that my ex-friend wishes me harm.
I wrote him a postcard saying that I’m sorry I said those things out of anger, I still don’t want to be friends but I also don’t want him to beat himself up over it (if that conversation even mattered to him as much as it mattered to me).
So, do I put it in the mail or not?
A wonderful old friend of mine (who I don’t see enough) recommended to me the other day that I should start listening to the Dear Sugar podcast.
She was right. It is delightful.
And the first episode that I listened to was #10, about friendships. In the episode a woman tells the story of her best friend helping her through the death of her mother. The feeling of having that best friend right alongside her in the first row with the family of the deceased.
And I realized that I never wrote an ode to the amazing friends who crossed the country to be with me when my father passed.
When I was just starting high school I befriended two other girls who happened to live in California. It’s a long story. But apparently, when our friendship developed and they found out that my dad was ill they decided that when he passed, whenever it was, wherever they were, they would come. I didn’t know this at the time. I only found out when they called me from the airport “We’re on our way!”
They sat right behind me and my family at the service, they answered every question I could think of, helped me pick out what to wear to the cemetery. They did all the things that a friend could do.
And I just wanted to say thanks. Because they’re amazing. Because friendship is an important and beautiful gift. We should all appreciate it more.
It’s been a while since I’ve written.
And this week I’ve been in a few places with lady friends and have said that.
And every time it was met by:
Well you can write about what happened to me the other day.
Which just made me remember what I liked about writing in the first place.
It’s a reminder that everyone walks through the world with questions, concerns, decisions, fears, events, memories and disabilities on their shoulders.
They’re all different but they all have that burning desire to be told nonetheless.
They’re all welling up like spit in our mouths, being swallowed instead of freed.
Tell me your story.
Lately I’ve been trying to say out loud when I’m grateful for someone or something. It’s a project that always felt worth while and now that I’m in a situation where I’m constantly surrounded by the same people, working and living together, relying on them for support, it feels like the perfect time to try it out for real.
I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I say “Hey, I’m grateful for you today” and get a really strange look. But I’m choosing to believe that the strange factor will wear off soon.
Just because saying “I’m grateful for you today” isn’t a thing everyone does, doesn’t mean that its a thing I should stop doing. That’s what I remind myself.
– (adjective) In our list of most interesting words, quixotic is the most romantic in every sense. To be quixotic means to be excessively romantic and chivalrous; illogical, idealistic, overall dreamy. It is viewed as an over-idealism filled with absurdity. (via wordsnquotes) [x]