Tag Archives: Friendship

Friendship & Gratitude, Updated

So it was my birthday weekend. I decided to go up to Camp D, essentially a plot of land where a bunch of people show up and camp. And drink. Mostly drink.

The ride up was on my birthday. We left the city hours later than I’d expected and I was vaguely annoyed to be spending it a car. I remedied it by drinking a six-pack I picked up at a bodega. But about half-way up, my friends Dede and Dre surprised me with a party. IN the minivan! Yup, they strung up twinkly lights, made a cheese, bread and salami platter, had wine and beer, and played “cool jazz.” Or was it smooth jazz? Teeny tiny cupcakes — one with a birthday candle — were dessert. It was awesome!

We arrived at our camp site too late to do much more than pass out. But the whole weekend was my celebration. I got another cake and a cupcake on Sunday night, after multitudinous beers and a beautiful day spent at a swimming hole with a waterfall.

There was an interesting dynamic among the somewhat fragmented campers. Some were old friends (of each other, of mine), some I’d never met before and, most peculiar, some seemed to have no interest in becoming friends with anyone they didn’t already know. I mean, I wasn’t expecting the Welcome Wagon — or even “Greeters,” who welcome you to Burning Man (and have, in the past, apparently, welcomed people to Camp D) — but introducing themselves might’ve been a nice gesture, me (and a few others, I’ll assume) being the newcomer. At least a couple people reached out and “friended” me on Facebook. It wasn’t the best bonding experience but it was a warm weekend of co-habitating in a cluster of tents. Right?

In the end, it just made me more grateful for my friends. For the people I love.

I just spent the past two hours thanking everyone who sent me birthday wishes on Facebook. I realize that the site makes us pretty lazy about these things; we can click on someone and instantly connect but there really doesn’t seem to be that much of a connection. So I wanted to close the communication loop. One friend actually wrote back, saying “Aw, a personal thank you? How un-Facebooky.” um, yep.

Which takes me back to…the people I love. There’s no possible way anyone can spend time with everyone they love if they love a LOT of people. Which I do. Many of them live far away. Some I haven’t seen in years. So I’m grateful for Facebook, as much as I hate it most of the time, for offering me an easy way to stay in touch with all my favorite people, peek into their lives, “like” their posts or wish them a happy birthday.

So I’m feeling grateful. But I’m not feeling very eloquent! I’m still dazed from the three-day drunk-fest. Oh, and the three hour Figment meeting. Ack! I just wanted to post, get back in the saddle, so to speak. I’d better get back to the blind date horror stories, though, or I’ll lose all my readers! We’ll see….

Friendship

Well, The Poet has taken me to task. While he found my list of 10 Things I’m Grateful For to be “thorough,” he thought I was “selling myself short” on the friendship:

“On question one you were especially thorough. But I think you sold yourself short on question two. You have much more you could say about what it means to have and be a good friend Abby that you did NOT cover in your lover’s list. Your friending of me shows how you can look past what you would want or even tolerate in a lover. Maybe the term is wrong – maybe I meant good or true friend. An example would be that a friend will listen well and truthfully and considerately tell you what they think even when it may be inconvenient or painful to do so. That’s more than being a good communicator. Other attributes could be charitable, kind, dependable, loyal, protective, etc. Give it a thought. No blog necessary unless you want to – just do the exercise. You may recall important attributes that will help in your spiritual search for a lover too.”

His point that I will accept things in people who are my friends that I might not tolerate in a “relationship” is correct. I have plenty of friends I wouldn’t consider living with! It makes sense that a lover should have the same qualities as one’s friends, since they would, essentially, be your best friend. That said, when I reflect on past exes, they all had qualities that I might not have put up with in a friend…The libido often makes its choices independently of the rational brain.

So in further pursuit of spiritual growth, I will do the exercise with friendship in mind. The Poet warned:

I think such exercises are best accomplished by taking some time before finishing or sharing to really think about what we are saying and what it means. The embrace and practice of humility plays a critical role in this. Blogging about it makes it that much harder to be and appear humble.

Point taken. I don’t believe time would change my responses. And there’s no way to appear humble when one is enumerating their best qualities. Maybe it should be leavened with a list of faults? Please forgive the extreme navel gazing, dear readers. Perhaps you could play along with me? What do you want in a friend? And what do you have to offer? All together now!

QUALITIES I WANT IN A FRIEND
A good  listener
A good heart
Dependable
Loyal
Understanding
Patient
Flexible
Agreeable
Super smart
Funny
Fun
Good conversationalist
Count-on-able
Empathy
Interesting
“Game” (meaning up for almost anything!)
Adventurous
Difficult (I know this sounds like a negative quality, but I do tend to enjoy people who aren’t “easy”…)
A great sense of humor
Clever
Sarcastic, caustic (sometimes!)
Quirky
Honest
Semi-skewed world view
Open-minded
Curious
Accepting
Emotionally available
Intellectually available
Or at least available in some way!
Well-read
The ability to call me on my shit

Okay, I think that’s enough. This list was a whole lot harder than the lover list. I have so many friends who are sooooo different. I like collecting oddballs! Hmmm…can I make a list of things I don’t want in a friend? That would probably be easier!

WHAT I HAVE TO OFFER A FRIEND
Honesty
Loyalty
Empathy
Patience
Love
A big heart
Understanding
The ability to listen, coach, counsel, hear, question, commiserate, conspire, compliment, encourage, advocate, advise, strategize, look at every angle, play the devil’s advocate, sit with and be silent…
A sense of humor
A sense of adventure
FUN!
Spontaneity (sometimes…)
Count-on-able
I keep my word
Accountability…and the ability to hold my friends accountable
The ability to cut through all the bullshit
Fierceness…in all its expressions…

I’m sure if I sat with this list for a week I could come up with more. Or different. And if I sat with it for a month, even more. But I’m gonna go with immediacy here (well, approximating immediacy, as I’ve been mulling this over for almost two days…) in the interest of blogging (almost ) every day.

Friendship is a topic worth exploring further, especially with my birthday looming. I’d invited many friends to celebrate my birthday at two different events. At the first event, only two friends joined me and the upcoming event looks like I’ll only be with three. It makes me wonder…Do people just assume I travel with a posse all the time? And that their absence won’t even be noticed? If anyone ever thinks that, let me say that I always miss the people who aren’t around. Always. I miss friends from 20 years ago right this second. If I’m at a party with 100 of my friends, I’ll wonder where the 101st friend is and why they couldn’t make it. Just so you know. Okay. Time to get out and enjoy the sunshine!

Gratitude

The responses to last night’s post have been coming in and they’re kinda cracking me up. One fellow blogger read me to filth for wanting a faithful man while using the Ashley Madison web site. He must’ve missed that I’m not on the site anymore. But still he has a point. My morals have always been questionable. I was never the perfect wife. But I believe I am capable of change. And hope that we all are.

The responses from men are, predictably, about whether they “measure up” or not. When I say I want someone “tall, 6’3″ or taller,” it doesn’t mean I would turn down a date with someone 5’8″. These desires are merely that: desires. I wouldn’t turn down a job offer of $50,000 a year. Or even $25,000 a year. But I can dream, can’t I?

The Poet has set out a more life-affirming set of challenges, as I would expect from him:

One: Write a list of the ten things you are most grateful for in your life. You only get 10.
Two: Write a post on what you want and what you have to offer in friendship.
Oh and don’t forget to keep praying for James everyday for two weeks!

So, in response to The Poet:
The 10 Things I Am Grateful For In  My Life
1. My corporeal being: my body, my health, my genetics, I guess. I have been blessed with great health, tall and sturdy stature, good teeth and skin and hair, a complex brain and many innate talents.
2. My family: two loving, doting, attentive parents; a sister who loves me fiercely and does everything she can to help me; an amazing extended family filled with unique characters, passionate and opinionated and extremely loving; my sister’s kids, who give me hope for the future. (Or should I say force me to hope for the future?) They are incredible humans. My grandparents were also pretty fuckin’ cool.
3. An impressive palette of loyal, loving and supportive friends, some of whom have been friends for over 20 years. I am fortunate to make friends easily and am then able to pick and choose the ones I  love most!
4. My creativity: it has allowed me to create costumes that make me smile, produce art that has made others smile and, most importantly, permits me to express myself in an eloquent, easily transmitted manner. Or so people tell me!
5. A wildly interesting life: this is partially my doing, being the experience junkie that I am. But it is also my parents, wanting to expose me to many things, being in a position to travel and see the world, the money to send me to college and support me while I was there. Everyone and everything that has conspired to make my life so enviable.
6. Loving relationships: I’ve had several long-term relationships with boyfriends in my life. While in the relationships I felt great love (or thought I did) and really loved being in love. (That’s a lotta love in one sentence….but that’s the topic here.) While some break-ups were less pleasant than others, I can honestly say that I am on friendly terms with all of these men. (The most recent one being the only possible exception. I will strive for civility in that circumstance as well.) Though some of these men are now far away, living very new and different lives, I believe firmly that if we were stuck across a dinner table from each other, it would be a loving, enjoyable experience. The best part of these loves is that I learned something valuable from each of these men and took those lessons with me into subsequent relationships.
7. This may sound silly, but I must include pets: since I was little I’ve had wonderful, loving dogs. Life is just better with a dog in it, from my childhood poodle to Zoe, my poodle of 16 years, to Noodle, who Eric got in the divorce settlement, to the fosters I’ve taken in, including the two little scruffies sitting on either side of me right now. Dog breath smells sweet. Dogs love their humans. Even their temporary humans. Pure, pure love.
8. Education: I went to a really, really great elementary school that gave me a solid base of education that I’m still calling upon. Junior high and high school weren’t quite as excellent but they were “second in the nation,” so it was better than most. I can spell. I can punctuate. I can string a sentence together. And I have my K-12 teachers to thank for that. Along with all the award-winning authors whose books I’ve read. College was more fun than learning but, looking back, I did take in a lot of knowledge, in between all the drinking and tanning and roller skating. Physics for Poets sticks with me as does my Sociology class that makes me occasionally wish, still, that I had taken that route. My brain loves to learn stuff.
9. Being born in America: okay, now I’m stretching! But I’ve gotta name 10 things and yes, this is one of them. The life I’ve led — and continue to live — can only have been led in America. We have incredible freedoms, a country rich in culture and adventure and…land! I couldn’t have run my fetish magazine in Iraq! And I couldn’t have roller skated on the beach boardwalk in Russia. The ability to constantly reinvent myself is also a truly American thing; this country loves reinvention! The Star Spangle Banner chokes me up. Seriously.
10. Luck: this probably sounds like a cheat. If you look at everything else, they’re all somewhat a result of luck. I am lucky to have been born in America; to two loving parents with means and good genes; to have traveled and met and known so many wonderful, interesting people; to have found love more than once and loved fiercely with all my heart; to have experienced more than just about everyone I’ve met. This is probably the one thing I’m prone to forget the most easily. I need to keep reminding myself how fortunate I am and how grateful I am for this luck. I went to a sort of hippy-dippy life reading once and the woman told me that the Archangel Michael is watching over me. When people ask me if I’ve ever seen a ghost, I can distinctly recall seeing an apparition, a male, all in white, with long blond hair, standing beside my bed. It was when I was in college and, at the time, I wrote it off as too much drinking. Instead of pink elephants I was seeing a blond dude in a white robe. But maybe it was Michael. I am truly a lucky person.

My second task was to write a list of what I want in a friend and what I have to offer in a friendship. I don’t think I need to repeat anything that I’ve already written. I already have what I want in a friend. In many friends. I feel fortunate and fulfilled in my friendships. I can’t claim to want or need more. And what I have to offer in a friendship is the same litany of things I have to offer a lover — with the obvious exception of the sex! I am a great friend.

I tip-tapped all of this out in a bit of a hurry. I guess I’ll wait and see if The Poet accepts my responses. He’s keeping me on my toes. And lives on as an example of something GOOD that can come out of being on Ashley Madison! I will, as he instructed, continue to pray for James’s happiness. And mine!

Emotionally Trying Friday

I took the weekend off. I’ve been regarding this blog as my job, since I don’t really have one. And I needed a rest. It was a very peculiar and somewhat trying Friday, followed by a bunch of fun on Saturday. This is gonna be a long one…in fact, I’m gonna break it into two separate posts…I’ll start with my emotionally draining Friday the 13th.

I had lunch plans with The Poet. We’d been exchanging involved emails discussing complex issues that I thought would be best communicated about live, so I was looking forward to it. We dug into the deep stuff right away. I told him about my “date” the previous evening with another Ashley Madison man. Yeah, I’d “retired” from that but this guy was already “in the pipeline,” so I’d agreed to meet him. I shared with The Poet how this guy, still married, had already had a three-year relationship but remained with his wife. I was baffled. We covered a lot of difficult territory, most of which is so personal that there’s no point in sharing it here. We briefly touched on coincidences and the concept of “there are no accidents.” Strange… On our previous lunch date I was almost in tears a few times. This particular day it was The Poet whose eyes welled up. As we parted, he said I’d given him a lot to think about.

By the end of our lunch, and a conversation that continued in the park, I was pretty exhausted. But I had made plans to meet a DPW friend visiting NYC. I was a little leery about getting together with the guy because he works on the same crew as my ex. It makes me uncomfortable to let people into my life who might share information about me with him. Not that it matters, I suppose, since he’s let me know that he reads this blog. Which in itself is creepy. Anyway. You, dear readers, know what I’ve been going through, at least over these past few months I’ve been writing this…Bloggers don’t have too many secrets, I guess.

My friend Sandra came over around 6. “What does this ex-boyfriend of yours look like?” she asked, completely out of the blue. I have a few pix on my hard drive and showed those to her, then said, “Oh, there are some more recent ones on Facebook.” When I clicked on those I thought it odd that he was no longer “tagged” in the photos but figured he must’ve “un-tagged” himself. Whatever.

Sandra and I went to 2A, where my DPW friend joined us for drinks and popcorn. A few beers in, he flashed his phone at me: an email from my ex to their crew list. “Why are you showing me that?” I asked, puzzled. “I thought you guys were okay,” he said, quickly putting his phone back in his pocket when he saw the look on my face. “No, we aren’t okay,” I told him. He immediately apologized and generally felt lousy. Over the next few hours a rather ugly and disappointing story came out.

This man had been seeing a woman for over a year. She and my ex had been “hanging out” recently, but the ex assured my friend, “You’ve got nothing to worry about, dude,” and claiming, “There’s nothing going on.” A week before he left on this trip that brought him to NYC, he took this woman to a party attended by many of his crew friends, including my ex. She had spent the night before with my friend, at his place. Within an hour of arriving at the party, my friend wondered where his date had gone. The woman at whose house the party was being held said, “I’ll show you.” This guy followed her, along with a few other fellow crew members, as she opened a bedroom door to reveal my ex fucking this guy’s date. Apparently everyone found this to be most amusing, since they all laughed.

Okay. I know I’ve been asking this a lot lately, but WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MATTER WITH PEOPLE? How many horrible things are wrong with this picture? Aside from my personal feelings about it all — and, hey, I have NO claims on my ex….none — as one human to another, who would do such a shitty thing? Lie to a friend. Fuck his date. In the middle of a party. And the woman who led the guy to see this? What on earth was she thinking? Is humiliating a friend some new sort of sport? Everyone who laughed? Is the embarrassment of someone you care for funny? It all makes me ill.

Well, having received his news I was, surprisingly, not nearly as upset as I would’ve thought I’d be. I’m already staring down a summer where I’m assuming I’ll have to see this dreaded ex at three meals a day. It will now be easier. It made me wonder, though, about his photos being “un-tagged” so I checked Facebook. He is not only no longer my “friend,” he has “blocked” me. I feel like a 12-year-old even talking about this but Facebook seems to encourage junior high-like behavior. Blocking is a pretty aggressive move and, in this case, was totally unnecessary, as I began “hiding” his posts, so I wouldn’t see any of them, way back in November. I hadn’t looked at his page for months. Again, whatever.

My friends are in agreement that this news — and the ex’s rather douchebaggy behavior — was a gift, a first step down the road toward finally falling out of love with him. I’ve repeatedly tried to be his friend, only to be shown, sadly, how lousy he is at being a friend. This skeezy scenario only reinforces my opinion. It won’t be pretty having to see the guy but at least being able to hold that tableau in my mind any time I think I still have feelings for him will be a big help. Onward!