Sunday, February 27, 2011

Friends Talking to Friends

  With all the moving we have done, I have made a number of friends in a lot of different places.  It isn't really so different than starting a new school. (which, coincidentally, I know something about as I moved 13 times prior to getting married PM plus the 21 moves after marriage AM).  Finding the people that you "click" with is difficult.   When you are new to a school or community  it is hard to know how to meet people that share your same values, sense of humor, same interests etc.  In fact, perhaps having expectations that you are going to meet someone that thinks or lives like you might be counter productive to finding people that would make perfect friends to you.  Perhaps we should not be looking for people with identical personality traits or interests to our own.   Maybe we should look for people that we find "interesting enough to give it a chance" and that we might have "a thing or two"  in common with.  (setting the bar low for me tends to pay off a lot of the time)

When we moved to Texas, I met a few people in the neighborhood that I clicked with but the most interesting group  I came across, was a group of women that I met at the gym.  I joined the gym at Texas Womens' University.  As gyms go it is a fairly small facility who's main purpose is to be used by students and faculty.  They do, however, accept outside members for a fee.  Normally, I go to just the nearest "chain" gym but I liked the smaller environment.

What I discovered is that if I went to the gym on the same days each week at approximately the same time, the same faces were  there. That is true of all gyms but at the TWU gym, for whatever reason, we started talking to each other.  Turns out that talking is very counter-productive to actually getting a workout in.
Too late though, we had discovered a second interest.  We all liked to read and had begun comparing who was reading what.  The book club was formed. 

 The group consisted of :

A woman that creates a syndicated comic strip
An art professor
A flight attendant for Southwest Airlines.
A sculptor
Me (I had my  corporate training company at that time)
A retired grade school teacher
A rancher (not married to a rancher, she is the rancher)

Side Bar:

Our little group kind of reminded me of the John Hughes movie  "The Breakfast Club".  The teens come together with no common denominator other than the fact they are all in detention.  There is a brain, a princess, an athlete, a criminal, and a basket case. 

Our book club had components of all of those with the exception of  the criminal.  In place of that category, let's substitute someone who really marched to their own drummer.  Let's call her our group's non-conformist.

Back to the story:

But here we were, women with all kinds of different personalities, different background, different everything coming together to become friends.  Not over night but little by little discovering a camaraderie.  I am certain the reason we got past the fact we were all so very different and enjoyed each others company is that we were all latent STORYTELLERS.

Perhaps my love of just sitting with people that I are comfortable with and talking  comes from my early childhood. When I was a little girl, I lived with my grandparents for a few years in Arkansas.  At this time in the early 1960's,  this little town would have been considered very "backwoods".  The old men, including my grandpa,  met at the gas station to sit on benches and drink Yoo Hoo and Dr. Pepper and tell stories.  Stories about their childhoods, stories about the local farms, the town gossip, their families and whatever the talk of the day melded into. They too, had their version of the book club without having to read a book.

Whether our book club was a modern version of  The Breakfast Club or of  "old men sitting on a bench"  it started meeting weekly on Tuesdays at one of our homes. Once a week we would meet for a pot luck supper  (had to be healthy) and discussed whatever we had read during the week.  We decided early on it couldn't work like other book clubs where everyone reads the same book.  We all hated each others taste in all things. Clothes, books, home decor, you name it, no common ground in our taste of "things".  As we got to know each other we did focus on our common interests, though.  We all were health nuts, liked  to exercise, like to read a lot, most of us liked to garden, and all were interested in hearing stories about the other people's adventures.  These women had great life stories.  REALLY interesting life experiences.

When you think about it, doesn't EVERYONE have some great stories.  I think, there is so little opportunity to share those stories, though.  Even given the opportunity to share them, a lot of people don't want to listen to someone else's stories. To have a dialog there needs to be storytellers and story listeners.

Is there a need or want in our culture in the 21st century for people to sit together and talk to each other at length?  Not just  small talk but real narratives, about where they come from and how they got to where they are now.  Can friends really get to know each other any more? I envy the people that stayed in one community and still have their childhood friends as their adult friends. Surely, that is a group of friends that know each other.

While I have been one of the last people in America to get on  the Facebook and Twitter train, recently I decided if I want to find out what my family is up to I'd better start participating.  I will say it is fun.  No question about it. As I am still trying to figure out all the ins and outs of social networking, I do recognize I am communicating with some people that I haven't heard from or seen in a lot of years.    Very much a nostalgia shot in the arm. I love seeing their posts and getting to know a little about where they ended up. A big thumbs up and likes for Facebook. 

In a crazy way though, it makes my miss my old friends MORE.  I want to get in my car and go see them in person,  sit down, have tea/coffee and visit.  So many questions that can't be answered in the little tidbits of Facebook or the 140 letters or less of Twitter. 

While this phenomenon of  social network is taking off like a rocket, I like the idea that a person would have a real friend(s) to talk to at length when they feel like talking,  or friends that would just sit with them quietly when they are mourning, grieving, crying or when they are so happy they have their go-to person to share the excitement with. Let's hope the growth of communicating via cyberspace doesn't diminish the act of communicating in person.

 I love meeting up with my current friends for lunch or coffee and just chatting. I miss TALKING to my old  (hate that word old but .... what to use ....not sure ) friends that I have let time and distance separate us.

For the friends that I have left behind, I hate that I have missed out or am missing out on the stories of  your lives.   While I continue to enjoy being with people and hearing about their "stuff", I also recognize this is becoming an obsolete way of having a friend.     To my friends, I will take what I can  get via Twitter, Facebook, email or text. If you want to send something by snail mail, carrier pigeon, or smoke signals, be assured that I will be thrilled to hear from you.

All the same, I sincerely  hope  that some of you have great and interesting stories  and have people to  tell them  to. For the people in my life, I want to be the listener of your stories.

The Good for the day....Reconnecting with friends that you haven't spoken with for a very long time and feeling the same connection that made you friends, way back when....

The Bad for the day....Recognizing that some people you just won't click with. They won't like you and/or you won't like them. Life is short. Move on to a new crowd.

The Weird....
My hairdresser was telling me the most interesting story about a client of his that has multiple personalities.  I am sure we all have seen movies dealing with this phenomenon but, I guess I never thought of it as a "real" disorder.  Depending on where you look for information, though, it seems there is a lot of controversy among mental health care workers as to how to correctly diagnose it.

 He was saying that the woman and her alter ego are having a difference of opinion about smoking cigarettes and the alter (as the alter ego personality is called) keeps driving off in the car and parking it somewhere. When the main personality gets up to go to work, her car is missing.  Now how frustrating that would be? There wouldn't be much you could do about it either.  Can't very well have the alter arrested or you can't punch her lights out.  Wouldn't it be better if these two personalities could be friends?

Because, I am completely conflicted today on which video reflects the subject matter, I am putting in not one BUT TWO 

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