I am a terrible friend. This realization came as quite a shock to me, because I also consider myself to be an extremely loyal friend. “Loyal to a fault”, I’ve even been told (which always makes me angry). I place my friends on a sort of elevated plane of existence completely protected by the dubious label “friend”. Of course, I am not blind enough to believe that my friends “can do no wrong”. I am completely aware of each of their faults, (and at times are annoyed by said faults), but in the end it matters little, because if any of them were being held prisoner by a Haitian witchdoctor in the middle of god-only-knows-where, I would be on the next plane with another Haitian witchdoctor (a better Haitian witchdoctor) ready for some serious voo-doo.
So, how can it be that I am both a loyal and terrible friend? I guess what I mean is that I allow my friends to drift. They are always tethered to me by a thread of shared experiences … and buoyed in my memory by that label: friend. But I do allow them to drift – some of them so far that I have no idea where in life they are. Others, so subtly I hadn’t even noticed that I had done so at all.
Tonight, I got an email from an old friend. She asked how I was doing, and imparted a small amount of news. Then she apologized for the fact that we seem to have “drifted away” because sometimes “life just goes too fast”. I have to admit that I was taken aback, because I hadn’t stopped to think of the last time I had actually seen her – and her husband – in real life. I think about them often, and “see” them in my minds eye whenever I get or send the occasional email. They are as present to me in my everyday existence as the friends and family I get together with on a regular basis. But that’s just it. I assume that the people in my life will always know how important they are to me simply because they bear the moniker “friend” or “family” – or both. I take these most important people for granted to such an extent that, in some cases, I have not made the effort to “see” them live & in person for years and years. And the worst part of it all is that I have been vaguely aware of it for quite a long time. I’ve even written a song about it! (Which, for those of you who come to see ManDown play, play close attention to the song Gray Bird.) How, you might ask, can I claim to be vaguely aware of something that I’ve taken the time to write an entire song about? I think the answer is, that recently I had thought I was doing so much better about staying in touch. I had assumed that since I haven’t had an enormous shift in life since leaving college and entering “the real world”, that my world and the relationships with the people in it had stayed in tact. That’s right I assumed, and yes, we all know what happens when we do that. So tonight, I hope that each of you, who I have ever called “friend” or ever referred to as “family” (which, to me, basically amounts to the same thing), understand that you are in my thoughts and in my heart…. forever … whether you like it or not. And I apolozige if all you ever get from me is a Christmas card or the random email. You are important to me – and I mean that.