Monday, October 22, 2007

Friend wanted

I've been thinking a lot lately about what my best friendships are, and what they give me. This is because I don't have anything like that, here in this city.

A few incidents/people lately have underscored all of this for me.

First, there is D. D is my best friend here - he's a great guy. He's my go-to person; we have lunch together at the uni often, live within a ten-minute walk of each other, and see each other for an hour here or there, all the time. As I say, great guy. But, what's not entirely satisfying: D has very little sense of irony. I need irony, I realize. (Not that there's much irony on this blog, I know. But trust me - I'm all about the irony.) As well, all we ever talk about when we're together is work; I am all talked out about work. I am all worked out; when I am not at work, I need to be talking about other things. Especially because with D, it's all negative. D also doesn't drink much, which means I do things like go over to his house to watch a film, the night after my uncle dies, and sit there and drink 3/4 of a bottle of wine by myself.

This leads me to my next point: I really like drinks with my friends. I like drinking wine and having long, intense chats about our whole lives. So, when I went to that conference ten days ago and had drinks with Mentor and a PhD student of hers? I felt like something clicked back into place for me; it was the kind of languorous, indulgent evening I hadn't had in soooo long. It was a way of being I'd almost forgotten, but that is so foundational to who I am.

Now, this doesn't all have to come in the same package - for instance, my good friend A, who I was living with over the winter, remember? A doesn't drink. I don't drink with her. But she's probably the most ironic, funniest person I know. We can talk deeply-yet-ironically for hours.

Then there is my friend K, who visited me a couple of weeks ago over Thanksgiving weekend. Why do I not feel as close to K as I should, given how much time we spend together and how much we talk about? I've thought a lot about this - about how I like her a lot, and know her very well, but how she'll never be an A, or an M, so so close for me. Even though she's a wine drinker and a major chatter. It is, I think, that she is highly, highly in control. A very successful lawyer at 35, she is the most efficient and, I guess, masterful person I know. She has the crazy schedule of any high-powered lawyer, but she doesn't ever, ever let the craziness of her life phase her - at least on the outside. She has a kind of clinical approach to analyzing her own life and those of the people around her that I find, frankly, alien. And it's not that she's unfeeling - not at all. And she is damn smart about people. But I have heard her make judgements - of people's incapacity to "control themselves", like in making perhaps unwise romantic choices, for instance - that I just find to be intolerant of the confusion and humanity of people. I think what I need to feel truly, deeply intimate with someone is a sense that they can admit to, give in to, chaos. That we begin from a point of admitting our own fallbility.

So, yeah. That's what I need, what I'm really, really missing. That is the ad I should put out for a Scary City with Potential Friend. Wanted: ironic, chaos-embracing wine drinker.

By the way? All you folks out in the blogworld? It seems to me you are like all the people I would hope to have answer my friend-wanted ad. And certainly, those of you I've met have been ironic, chaos-embracing wine drinkers. Perhaps this is why I feel so at home in this little slice of the blogosphere.

20 comments:

Flavia said...

Oh man, do I feel you! I think I posted on this exact subject about a year ago, when I discovered that none of my new colleagues--awesome people though they are--drank or went out much, and that my one friend in the city also scarcely drank (and it seemed that all we talked about was work or the movies or museums we went to--not personal stuff). I remember wishing that my blogfriends were here, too!

But then I was "set up" with the best friend of a blogfriend, who was also new to the city and having the same problem, and she turned out to be totally my kind of person (and through her I've met some other people, though mostly casually). And eventually I broke down the reticience of non-colleague friend, and she's pretty fun, although there's still a reserve there. And I got closer to some of my colleagues and to a woman in my reading group.

And so when one of our new hires just yesterday tentatively suggested that she and I maybe grab drinks sometime, I had to remember, oh! she's probably feeling like I did! and actually, she seems funny and ironic and more like me than any of my other colleagues! She could be a friend, too!

My point is not that it will work this way for you--because who knows?--but I guess there are two things here. One is that, with some people, it takes a while to get comfortable, and in general I'd say it takes at least a year before one really feels at home in a place. The other, though, is that with some people you do just *know*, and can fall into friendship instantly. You don't have that person in your life right now, but at least you have people to go out and hang out with while you're waiting for him or her to materialize.

And also while you're waiting: there's the phone and the blogosphere.

Pantagruelle said...

I am so with you on this one. I am totally a long, intimate chats with wine and a let's analyze the irony that is the chaos of our lives type of person. The more wine and longer the talk the better. I don't have a go-to person like that here in my city anymore either. I did have, but she moved back home to two dreadful provinces over from you. I tend to get by talking somewhat superficially with colleagues at work and by drinking excessively now and again with old grad school acquaintances, but the two don't really come together in those intimate drinking and talking sessions that I really need. I think that Flavia is right on this one though. It's simply a matter of making do for now until that perfect friend comes into one's life and relying on blog friends who get you. I feel I do, for what it's worth.

Hilaire said...

You're both right, of course - that person may well come along. And right now, I have been taking advantage of the phone...what prompted me to write this post was talking for 90 minutes with A last night, and having spoken to M several times over the weekend, dealing with his GF's breaking up with him. So, yes, thank goodness for the phone!!

dbm/gaa said...

I would SO answer that ad! I AM chaos, I love to chat and drink and I fairly drip with irony (which is a hard sell with a not-quite-two-year-old!). I'm looking for some new friends too, lots of people have left TO lately so my circle of chaos-loving-chatty-drinkers has dwindled.

squadratomagico said...

I, too, felt this when I first moved to my city. Although I enjoyed (and still enjoy) spending time with many of my colleagues, I never felt a deep, rich sense of closeness to any of them. It's like, when you find the right people, there's an almost physical sense of contented belonging that doesn't happen otherwise.

But I wasn't as lucky as Flavia. I spent many, many years -- all through tenure, and a little after -- with a sort of vague "is this all there is?" feeling about my lack of social connection. The fact that I was part of a happy couple made the need for other close friends less pressing, and (despite what it may seem like on my blog) I am shy, and I didn't know where to look to find the people I wanted... so I passively remained in my discontented isolation.

Don't let this happen to you! Really! Since I "found my tribe," so to speak, the difference in my life is enormous. I gain so much from my friends, and it allows me to have so much more to give. Without that, over time you can erode a certain core of yourself until you become easily rattled, brittle... whereas WITH good friendships, you continually renew yourself. Don't wimp out in the search, as I did for almost a decade.

Sorry to rant...

adjunct whore said...

i knew we clicked for a reason: chaos, irony, and wine. isn't it interesting and cool that the blogsphere brings such people into contact with one another?

it has given me pause to hear your moving pains since it may be happening for/to me soon as well. academia can be so isolating despite being in contact with so many smart people. when we moved here 2.5 years ago i was a little surprised by the amount of eagerness that surrounded me. and especially from my new gay friends because every single last one of my close/gay friends in nyc were anything but ernest, hilarious, brilliant, and all.so.campy. it disturbed me a bit to see the unitarian, advocacy, married gay couples. but i have now digressed....

straight or gay, smart people without humor or booze: caution.

Psychgrad said...

I haven't had a good talk over a bottle (or three) of wine in a long time.

I wonder if the blogs we visit regularly (vs. those that we quickly pass by) would be representative of the face-to-face interactions that would become more immediate friendships, if we gave them a chance.

Hilaire said...

GAA - maybe we should have drinks while I'm in Home City!

Sq - I love the way you talk about what you gain from your friends! Yes! Me too. I will try not to remain passive...it's just that all the people I have kind of ID'd as potential friends turn out to be up to their eyeballs in kids, etc., ect. There was the person I counted on being my wine-friend (the person who hired me) but she and I have turned out to not really see each other at all. I think perhaps I need to rectify that ASAP.

AW - I *totally*, *totally* know what you mean. I can't wait to be back in Home City in the land of debauched, unmarried queers, I have to say! Oh, you are a true sister of the spirit, I think.

Psychgrad - What a fabulously right-on analysis - yes, I think you're probably right...those blogs we visit regularly are the potential real-life soulmates.

T.E. said...

Oh boy does this ever speak to me! Irony! Chaos!Wine! (Actually, I'm a bit of a control freak, but only w.r.t. limited aspects of my own life.) I spend a lot of time worrying that I'll never make really close friends again, that grad school was the last opportunity for that, and given that I've been out of grad school for eight years, I need to move on in the way squadrato suggests. But it's intimidating to contemplate. I am grateful for blogworld, but I worry that drinking wine while commenting on blogs doesn't really count :-)

Neophyte said...

Yes, well, chiming in to the chorus: not only would I answer such an ad, but if the time comes to write a personal ad for myself, "ironic, chaos-embracing wine-drinker" might just be the foot I choose to put forward.

Not surprising that this corner of the blogosphere is flooded with snarktastic, chaotic drunks. Would we have it any other way?

Belle said...

Add me to the list. I wander the blogosphere and find echoes of people I've known, and many that I'd like to in RL. Then there's the hermit in me, I just want to sit home and shower affection on my animals.

I spent a month in Paris with wine-drinking, long-talks-and-lots of laughter friends... and I reveled in it. Even as I longed for home. Go figure.

And do you also have colleagues that you'd like to have as friends, who have their own cliques of wine-drinking close friends... but don't include you? I'm thinking that my willingness to include and embrace chaos gives them the creepy-crawlies. They usually look at me in horror when I mention that a little chaos can be fun.

Hilaire said...

Well, as Neophyte notes, it looks like we're quite the load of ironic, chaos-embracing wine drinkers, aren't we? God, we so need to meet up, don't we all? I'd so love to do this - have a middle-of-the-continent shindig with all of you. Do you think this can ever be done? I'd be happy to organize something in Home City, which I know is a plausible destination for many of you...

T.E. - The drinking while commenting is a poor substitute, it's true. Especially because you run the risk of commenting off-colour things, and that's so much riskier than verbalizing those things, isn't it?

Belle - No, it seems nobody is involved in wine-drinking cliques, here. I don't know what the heck they all do. Work too much, that's what. :(

Anonymous said...

My friend L and I (who is, alas, long-distance) often bemoan the earnest people all around us. I live in a veritable *bastion* of earnestness, and her place is even worse, from what she tells me.

So I would totally answer your ad: long chats with abundant wine and irony are my forte!

And, incidentally, this is one of the reasons I really, really want to leave my current job...

(--Maggie)

Psychgrad said...

Am I near home city?

Hilaire said...

I'm not sure where you are, exactly, though I think I might have an idea and you might not be far...

T.O. is Home city.

?

Psychgrad said...

Ok...not too far. I am where your dad lives (according to an earlier post of yours).

lil'rumpus said...

ok so i am late to comment BUT the feeling that you express here is *exactly* what I have been feeling and so i have totally withdrawn from even that virtual space where ironic wine drinkers hang.

i am in search of and have found a few (hey AW!) real folks who i can relax around...who, for a lack of a better word, recognize me. but the struggle continues...

hang in there!

S said...

I wandered over here from Maggie May's after reading her post on friends.

While not nearly as witty as many of you :) I have been pondering the same type of ad for some time. I'm in my first year of grad school, a "non-traditional" student, mom, wife, yadda yadda. I'm missing the 'friend' portion. Someone who can tell me when I'm right, AND when I'm wrong. Someone who knows where the bodies are buried.

A bottle of wine, my comfy clothes, my comfy self, and long talks. I can't remember the last time I had that with someone.

Hence, my as yet un-started blog. I have so much to say and no one to say it to.

What Now? said...

Oh, I would SO love to have those friendships as well! I haven't had those friends since I left grad school, which is a real loss. Certainly I've had other kinds of friendships, but when was the last time I got together with a friend and drank a bottle of wine and talked amusingly about the world and our lives?

Actually, I do know when that's happened -- when I've gotten together with bloggers in real life.

Goodness, that's an interesting thing to realize, actually, and it hadn't occurred to me until this comment.

Hilaire said...

Hi lil'rumpus - so glad you stopped by...nice to hear from you again!

Hello, S, and welcome! I hope that, like many of us, you find the blogworld to play some of that role...

WN, see, this is the thing! This is why i fantasize about a mega-blogger conference. So we could have a whole weekend of that...sigh...one can dream...