Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lip Service

There are friends... and there are friends. I've always adhered to the traditional sense of the word, which according to Mr. Webster, is one whom we hold in high esteem or share a particular affection for. Yeah. Okay. No thanks to social politicking that the word's meaning has evolved into something so convoluted. The basic fundamentals of the word are still there, I agree, but it has become more complicated than it really should be.

I liken friendship into a pyramid -- like the great Egyptian ones. It's quite short really, this pyramid of mine, with an ultimately wide base. The higher up you go, the intimacy level increases exponentially, thereby significantly narrowing the top. It's an odd-looking one, you may deduce.

The first level of my pyramid is the widest. It is the category where my acquaintances, colleagues (generally) and chums fall in. All our friendships have to start from here, don't you agree? We meet people and from there, we cultivate the relationship. However, as time goes by, I have realized that the nourishment of my little pyramid seems to be the healthiest at the base. I have met so many people from different walks of life... and they seem to stay as acquaintances most of the time. I'm constantly at crossroads of sorts due to my constant hopping and well, the lack of time's availability. We have established that as beings of survival, we tend to unconsciously sell our souls to the devil's whim called work and career. Given that, we tend to be choosy as to how we spend the very rare free time we are handed. Thus, significantly slashing the opportunities we have to get to know people.

I have quite a lengthy list of people on my mobile phone's contact list. However, I can tell you frankly that there are probably only six people that I really correspond with on a regular basis. The polite exchanging of numbers during dinner parties and social gatherings have caused my list to swell. Also, I have to thank the first few degrees of separation for this. Friends of friends of friends. By association, you are obliged to give the proverbial air kisses if you bump into them in the streets whilst shopping or traipsing about. You have to feign interest in their job/family/hobbies/friends for courtesy's sake. It can be quite exhausting, really. It makes me think twice about the amount of effort that socialites put in their lives -- maybe, just maybe, they can be respected for that after all. One can only have so much for pretending to like others and having to scrape the barrel to engage in small talk. I don't know how some people can make it a way of life.

Within this wide base of acquaintances, a few outstanding ones emerge to the surface and boost themselves up to the next level. I call them my meal buddies. These people, naturally, are those that I seem to have the slightest chemistry with -- at least enough for me to willingly endure an hour of food intake and swapping stories with. Discussions generally consist of topics that both are removed from -- in other words, safe topics that will not hit nerves. Thank heavens the world is quite big and that there's usually enough about it that can be dissected before it is thoroughly exhausted.

I consider myself fortunate to have quite a few of these friends -- they help make the mundane patches in life easier to ignore. And living vicariously through other people's experiences gives us a break from what we know. Stumbling upon other people who more or less have things in common with us is becoming an art -- because it's beginning to get rare. These meal buddies of mine double as movie buddies, travel buddies, drinking buddies... name it! I don't mind spending time with them as long as it's still fun.

When the fun ends, however, there are two options that one can take. And usually, it involves the evaluation of relationship. Once a speed bump is hit through the course of the friendship, it can go two days: either up the pyramid or not. Once, one of my very good meal buddies opened up to me that he was gay and that his relationship with his parents were struggling as he came from a typical "WASPy" family. And his secret gay partner still was not out of the closet and was constantly beating him up. He was so in love with him that it never occurred to him to walk out of the abusive relationship. I knew from that night onwards that he got catapulted into a notch higher in my life. We spent all night until the sun rose talking about his troubles. It made me see another side of him. One that I never thought existed, or at least one that I never though I'd see.

Friends like those I generally consider as friends. The real deal. That's where I really draw the line that distinguishes my friends from the others. There is a certain degree of closeness between me and my friends -- however, my guards remain up. Contrary to what other people perceive me as, it takes quite a bit for me to trust people. I open myself up enough for them to think I'm transparent, but I'm not. It's like inviting friends into my house, my home even, but there will always be that certain room, perhaps the attic, that no one knows about. And in there lays the very core of my being.

I'm very selective in allowing friends into the attic -- which is the final, topmost and smallest part of my pyramid. They are so few that I may have more fingers in my hands than soulmates like that. Very few people know me for who I am. Such relationships are founded through time and experiences and well, I just never had much of that luxury. My biggest weakness is the inability to show my weaknesses to others. And those that actually know of my weaknesses are those people that I trust the most. I love them and I will do anything for them. I think it's just fair to say that in our lifetimes, we really only get a couple of really close friends who would lay their life for us... and those that we'll lay our lives for. They double my joy and divide my pain.

Friends come and go -- all the time -- may they be on the first, second or third level in my pyramid. I've lost friends whom I thought were on their way to the topmost level. Though it's sad, I've learned to accept that just like most things in life, friends are fleeting. I am thankful for the creation of memories. Nonetheless, soulmates are there to stay no matter which corner of the globe you're at. I miss them every single day for they form a major part of me. My relationship with them can withstand distances, differences in timezones, the passage of time itself, environmental and personal changes, but best of all, the love only grows stronger. Numerous farewells and goodbyes to each other are never a good enough reason to say farewell and goodbye for good.

One friend in a lifetime is much; two are many; three are hardly possible -- Henry Adams


52 Comments:

Blogger Queer Ranter said...

Hmmmm. I lost count as to how many friends I've not kept in contact with. Moved a lot when I was young.

Oh well. What matters are the people around me now I guess. :)

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Electric bearbearina said...

Oh my goodness.
I just posted a blog and then read yours and though the topics are different, we both touched on the same thing (annoying small talk with strangers).
What can I say; birds of a feather - think alike ;) We've still got the knack for thinking the same thing at the same time.

2:49 PM  
Blogger thisisme said...

I could have written this exact post. Except mine are in circles, not in a pyramid. The number of people in my mobile, and the number of people in my email address book is completely out of proportion to the number of people that I trust with my deepest secrets, and are the ones I would drop anything for to be with. I know a lot of people, but very few of them really know me.

3:42 PM  
Blogger thisisme said...

Oh, and I've noticed over the years that people move in and out of the outer circles, but once they are in the innermost circle they don't move.

3:43 PM  
Blogger paddy said...

"convoluted" Yes!
"And in there lays the very core of my being."
The door to that room in my world/personality is closed. Not one soul gets through. I only enter when the magnetic mood draws me there without choice. I know it relatively well but it is a maze
to be reckoned with, and even if you do get back out again unscathe, you are bound to be indelibly scarred.
I grew up had friends. We went in different directions, different countries, lost contact with most...same with family. I think the only friend in life you'll ever have if you are lucky enough to discover it is your Psyche/self/soul. Then you just are and people are just what they are. However! If I say I will do something for you I will do it and that means if we are fighting together I will die fighting to protect both of us.Great Post Princess.
Y;-) Paddy

4:24 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I have plenty of people at the level under the apex of the triangle, but I can't say I have ever had a friend at the apex, and I doubt I will. The fault must be with me I think.

7:47 PM  
Blogger raghav said...

yeah .. same here .. the number of ppl who come and go are countless .. but it takes two to tango .. sometimes you want to keep the relationship goin and the other person does NOT and vice versa .. probabilistically the 'quote' in the end MUST hold good .. *grin*

7:48 PM  
Blogger Auld Hat said...

It's been my experience that a gay friend will always rise to the top.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Crashdummie said...

Does anyone truly know anyone else.. or themselves for that matter? People come and go out of your life, yet there are few who leaves prints in you heart that will stay forever.

Loved that quote!

8:56 PM  
Blogger lisa q. said...

fabulous post princess! i love the pyramid analogy...so perfectly fitting!

my date was a disaster :( read the details in my comments...

9:43 PM  
Blogger Crushed by Ingsoc said...

I have many friends I now speak to rarelty and many I have just contect with over time- though your post has just inspired me to ring a couple who I don't want to drop out of the loop.
It's funny the quote you have by Henry Adams.

I have two close friends who are almost brothers and we have been friends for ten years and I see boh them at least once a month, often more, though we live far away from eachother. We have our own little sayings between us, we have ongoing conversations that have gone on for years.

But a lot of friendships, like work collegues for example, are temporary alliances, which end when we move on.

I feel sorry for people who don't have certain special people as a permanent fixture in their lives.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Jennifer McK said...

I have two friends that have lasted through EVERYTHING. Married no kids. Single, shacked up and them Married two kids.
One, I see every day. She's my best friend, my sister, closer to me than my family. She not only goes in the attic, but she's seen the closets too.
I, too, have an intimacy meter that determines what my relationships look like. And I also seem "open" but I'm not.
I love the pyramid analogy.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Lucid Darkness said...

This post made me smile. It was so touching... and let's say that it gave me a bit of hope as well.

You've laid bare the various 'categories' of friends in a humorous yet insightful manner.

You know, I've often (quite painfully) found that familiarity does breed contempt, especially if you find that your 'friend' has only been pretending to be the person who've been seeing all along. However, the strange thing is that there's every possibility that the reverse might also occur.

We are expected to be social, aren't we? That polite smile that is permanently pasted on our faces whenever we are out in public, doesn't necessarily mean that we are enjoying the company a lot. You might enjoy a quick chat with a rather witty person, but you're not going to tell him or her about your deep dark secret.

Just a few days back, I had a conversation with a friend, which made me respect her more. Mutual respect... that's always what I've envisioned true friendship to be. A relationship in which two people respect each other and are completely honest about whatever that they do let on about themselves (and no, I don't believe that 'friends tell each other EVERYTHING... there is always that attic, like you said, but whatever they do tell each other is the truth). There are no 'ego issues' that escalate to dangerous proportions, neither is there any invasion of personal space when one wants solitude. This probably sounds way too idealistic to be practical, but I'm hoping that it will happen. I feel encouraged by your post :)

I liked these lines a lot:

"Thank heavens the world is quite big and that there's usually enough about it that can be dissected before it is thoroughly exhausted."

~ Ha ha. I second that wholeheartedly!

"I've lost friends whom I thought were on their way to the topmost level. Though it's sad, I've learned to accept that just like most things in life, friends are fleeting. I am thankful for the creation of memories. Nonetheless, soulmates are there to stay no matter which corner of the globe you're at. I miss them every single day for they form a major part of me. My relationship with them can withstand distances, differences in timezones, the passage of time itself, environmental and personal changes, but best of all, the love only grows stronger. Numerous farewells and goodbyes to each other are never a good enough reason to say farewell and goodbye for good. "

~ This was beautiful!

10:39 PM  
Blogger clover said...

I have been so fortunate to have the best friends on earth, real lifetime companions, which i know is rare, specially among women. They know me inside out and love me inside out too, same goes for me. I have clicked with them instantly and it always stayed the same, over many years.




When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No, I won't be afraid
Oh, I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
So, darling, darling

Stand by me
Oh, stand by me
Oh, stand
Stand by me
Stand by me

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
Or the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry
No, I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
And, darling, darling

11:10 PM  
Blogger Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

I'm sure this post must strike a chord with most of us. You are so right about the effort it takes to build a deep and lasting friendship. I feel I have let quite a few (what could have been) true friends slip by, soley due to my neglect, or unwillingness to invest the time necessary to reach that next level. I'm too darn old to waste time with people I feel no connection with, I haven't the patience or social tolerence any more. Real friends are priceless, and rare indeed - once found, they need to be cherished.

11:38 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I remember the "lists" and how kids would threatent to "cross you off" of them. Everyone ranked their friends numerically in the fourth grade.

11:54 PM  
Blogger Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

I agree with you. I feel that friends are soemthing is rare and it is only when I know I can trust them with the darkest of my life that I call them friends.

Most people travel in and out of our lives never really settling .. sad.

By the way, I love your rantings, they make perfect sense and make me come back often to read and read again.

12:04 AM  
Blogger Bullshee said...

I think u missed a level-the ones that never leave......u know, the kinda friends that become family-those ppl who attend all ur family events and who u call when something good or bad happens.......they are of course the best kind and the most difficult kind to 'maintain'!

12:41 AM  
Blogger heartinsanfrancisco said...

"They double my joy and divide my pain" is a great (and true) line.

There are very few people I consider friends at the deepest level, although I, too, have many friendly acquaintances and playmates.

Henry Adams had it right. Three true friends are hardly possible.

1:08 AM  
Blogger X. Dell said...

Interesting take on friendship, but it seems to work for you. Why challenge it?

There's the old saying that he who has many friends, has no friends. I thought that odd, but after awhile came to realize that if everyone is special to me, then no one is special to me. After all, there's only so much room at the top of the pyramid.

1:21 AM  
Blogger evalinn said...

True, I have a very few really close friends and I count myself lucky.

4:31 AM  
Blogger Sling said...

There are many aquaintances in my life.
When I think of my best friend,I automatically think of the guy I haven't seen in over 20 years...It's like that.

6:15 AM  
Blogger nasia said...

You have said it right abt friendship.. I hav lot of friends, and i too hav sieves/tests whihc they pass or fail to go thru. but i give almost everyone a chance only few pass... and thus the last line holds true...

7:48 AM  
Anonymous okjimm said...

hey.. a very thought provoking post....I came here through connection with one of my sisters....

I really lie the post, but one more thing
/The real deal./

I think that when we stop seeking new friends...it means we do not like ourselves that much anymore.....I will always look for new friends....you never know which smile will be the next great one.....:)

8:07 AM  
Anonymous okjimm said...

/I really lie the post,//

LIKE the post! fat fast fingers!!

///////gees, wowsers!

8:09 AM  
Blogger Trundling Grunt said...

Excellent post. I wonder if the slope on the side of the pyramid differs from men to women. In my limited experience men have a huge base of acquaintances while the upper levels of the pyramid are very sparsely populated. Women seem to have more friends at the higher levels that are durable through life and adversity.

Have to think about that (one of my many weak spots)

9:20 AM  
Blogger Malnurtured Snay said...

There's nothing like MySpace to reaquaint yourself with long lost and presumed dead friends!

10:33 AM  
Blogger thethinker said...

I can honestly only think of one or two people who I consider my close, close friends. I've gone through several "best" friends over the years, drifting away from many of them after realizing that we weren't as close as previously thought.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Keshi said...

very true..I hv many friends who just do lip service...now I hv dumped em.

I can be alone...but I cant be with a bad friend.

Keshi.

1:45 PM  
Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

It amazes me how many people I've seen come and go in my life. Like you I am weary about who I let up top and sometimes I find the top empty. I know it will fill again though. It always does.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Cuckoo said...

Oh I was about to write on the same topic.

yeah, agree... the lip service ppl are not in my friends list too. The ppl who come to the innermost circle dont go away.

5:09 PM  
Blogger SaM-GiRL said...

Very true..... the friends that ALWAYS stick around, are the true ones!

6:55 PM  
Blogger phishez_rule said...

I think thats the truth of it with everybody. The only difference is how fast people let other up the pyramid. I've also seen that you can't really trust someone unless they trust you first. And once you've established that trust (by opening up, the way your friend did) your friendship knows only the boundaries you impose on it.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Ab said...

i identify with all you said. yesterday the speaker was aking 'think of three best friends' and i was lost.. :) i mean, got friends and all, but just few are close, and its still developing only...

and about feigning interest in casual acquantances hobbies, its true, even i do that. but it gives me the creeps to think thats all people might be doing wen they talk to me too. Im like so nice to everybody and smiling and all (and thats not made up)
but these days even I have started not being so good. ultimately a very few people have been around wen i really needed company, so retaliation kind of...

hey, i guess its all the effect of spending a weekend alone, anyways...

you should read this poem by Rudyanrd Kipling, "the thousandth man" i loved it absolutely.

7:38 PM  
Blogger lemonade said...

so true about the mobile phone list..! i dont even know why i keep those numbers..they jus seem to keep taking up so much of space..!

7:39 PM  
Blogger Vengelyne said...

A very insightful entry into your pyramid of friends. Made me think about mine. I don't have a single person in my life except my mom who would lay their lives out for me. Heh. Well, I wouldn't die for anyone either. So all is fair.

Love the way you write. Truly impeccable. =)

7:40 PM  
Blogger Paul Champagne said...

I have about 100 people stored in my cell phone and thousands in my e-mail adress book ... I have just one true friend ... is that wierd or what?

12:47 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

This was so beautiful... and so true. Something we should all think of regarding the friends in your life... thank you.

2:27 AM  
Blogger Andre Veloux said...

Random people who comment on your blog really must be at the bottom of your pyramid! I don't know I think people approaching the top of the pyramid are the hardest to deal with, you sort of have a crisis about whether to let them go higher, or maybe they are far higher than they should be and you can't fast track them to the bottom!

3:05 AM  
Blogger Sunshine said...

This post was excellent. It made me think of that quote, I think it was Bette Davis??? About how your true friends are the ones you can call at 4 in the morning.
I have tons of friends, but the 4 in the morning friends number much smaller.

3:09 AM  
Blogger AVIANA said...

Hey,

how are you? thanks for stopping by!.

I completely feel you on this. I don't have many friends. only a couple and who they are actually varies.

it has saddened me. i'm so used to people leaving my life. that each time i meet someone new, or someone new enters my life...i count the days until we fall out. because it's inevitable, whether it's mine or their fault...they will leave my life...

there is a pyramid but since i'm so use to people leaving my life pretty much everyone stays at the bottom level despite me revealing myself. why should i have a wall when all you're gonna do is leave?

hmm...

good luck chicki!

3:48 AM  
Blogger foam said...

a pyramid is a good way to look at it.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

Interesting idea. Intimacy in 'real life' is reserved for those we trust, and yet daily we expose ourselves to strangers through this thing called 'blog'...

Puss

7:46 PM  
Blogger Anu said...

"Numerous farewells and goodbyes to each other are never a good enough reason to say farewell and goodbye for good."

So True...there are people whom we have known since when we din even know to read or write...those ppl are still truly valuable to me

Somehow i have always felt childhood friendships have the ability to withstand the passage of time and still grow strong

Good one! keep them coming!

7:53 PM  
Blogger Violet said...

good observations. i agree that i also have very few "close" friends, who i feel comfortable talking to without reservation or censoring.

2:06 AM  
Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Absolutely brilliant post. It's sad when a friendship ends but some just do, maybe because the circumstances of one of the friends have changed or because one person is making all the effort and that can't go on. Like you, I am careful who I let into my life these days, but I value my close friends very much. I like the term, "meal buddies", btw.

2:28 AM  
Blogger Timothy Tien said...

Hi Princess,

Everytime I read your post I have learn something about myself.

(...."Very few people know me for who I am"....)

"Weaknesses" are infact stairs that can lead to our upper most attic - stairs that have cracks and holes on its steps. It sure is challenging for anyone who wish to climb up to the attic but how esle can one reach it without going through these steps of crack?

Some do not have the courage to climb it, most fell despite their trying. We watch helplessly that one by one they fell, we even feel guilty about this.

We too have tried to climb others' stairs and fell through the holes with utter confusion. Soon we do not see these stairs as steps, we see fear, guilt and confusion instead.

I too have hide many of my weaknesses and forgotten that they indeed are stairs. Perhaps I'll reveal my stair once more for thoese meal buddy who want to make a go at it.

May be next time I want to climb a stair, I'll not be so careless, knowing that there will be full of holes and cracks.

Princess, I have enjoyed your post.

tim

4:57 AM  
Blogger Photogirl said...

Facebook helps with re-connecting and staying in touch.

Loved this post, you are an excellent writer!

7:16 AM  
Blogger The Black King said...

Wow! You somehow manage to put into words what I feel a lot of the time.

7:20 AM  
Blogger CM-Chap said...

Wonderful thoughts... I guess u hv done lot of research too

1:25 PM  
Blogger Living On Video said...

Really nice post, like the way, you've catagorised the entire three sections.

"I've lost friends whom I thought were on their way to the topmost level."

Oh yes. :(


"Though it's sad, I've learned to accept that just like most things in life, friends are fleeting. I am thankful for the creation of memories."

:D :D You echo me.

1:06 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

The attic is small, the roof is low. Three would be a tight squeeze in there.

10:59 PM  

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