Tag Archives: friendship

No such thing as a bad friend

I recently spent some time with a friend I hadn’t seen in quite awhile. She has two sons, close in age to my own. When all four boys were small, the six of us spent quite a bit of time together.

She was the consummate organizer — always quick to suggest a new hiking trail, a field trip, an adventure. I was the overwhelmed small business owner and full-time mom who gratefully followed her lead, knowing my sons would never have slept under the stars on the balcony of a mountain cabin or hiked with llamas or rafted down the Colorado River if it weren’t for her.

As the boys grew, they pursued different interests, found different friends, grew in different directions. Though their tight connections unraveled, my friend and I stayed close.

But when her family moved to Portland, the frequency of our visits dropped dramatically. Sometimes I’d only see her once a year, when she came back during the winter holidays.

In December 2009 , I was getting ready to start up Piestewa Peak with my husband and my brother, who was visiting from Seattle. I turned around, and there was my friend. We hugged and made enthusiastic exclamations about how we should get together. I promised to call.

I never did. And I felt so guilty about it that I let many more months pile up, until it felt like the tie had perhaps been severed for good.

But I mourned the loss of this special friend, to whom I’d often confided my deepest thoughts and feelings, knowing that she would always be straight with me in her response. So on her birthday last week, I sent her an email. I told her that I missed her and that every time I was hiking in the desert, I thought of her.

Much to my delight, she responded immediately. Better yet, she was here in town! We made plans to get together for a hike.

When I met her at the trailhead, it was as if no time at all had passed. My sense of comfort with her was intact, untainted by the lapse of time. For the next hour and a half, we caught up on each other’s lives as we made a wide loop through the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

When it was time to go, I told her how glad I was to have had the time with her. I apologized for the fact that my self-absorbed distractions made me such a bad friend.

Her reassurance was immediate. “I stopped judging friendships a long time ago,” she said. “When we cross paths, we cross paths. When we don’t, we don’t.”

She knows that real friendships have no room for societal conventions, unrealistic expectations or guilt. Real friendships just are.

Social media schizophrenia

I struggle a lot with how much I should merge my work and personal lives in the realm of social media. My ambivalence is reflected in the ebbs and flows of my participation. Sometimes I get really excited and follow, post or comment frequently; sometimes the whole thing feels like one more ridiculously unnecessary thing I have to do, and I boycott — sometimes for weeks at a time — in rebellion.

When I first started a Facebook page under my own name I decided it was going to be very much a personal endeavor — a way to keep in touch with friends for whom I have great affection but rare face-to-face interaction. I was going to keep my list of friends small and manageable. I was going to keep work — and professional networking — out of it.

Then I saw that my husband had four times as many friends as I did, many of whom are colleagues and clients. I started feeling frantic about my lack of popularity. So I shamelessly mined his list, sending friend requests to some of the people on his list who know me, too, and should therefore consider being my “friends.”

I feared that I was missing the boat, failing to take advantage of the organic process of building a community by sharing a bit of what you think and who you are and what you find interesting.

I initially got started on Twitter as an experiment. I wanted to learn what it was all about so I could figure out how to use it use it in my job. When Raising Arizona Kids hired a social media consultant to jumpstart the magazine’s presence on Twitter, I started focusing my attention there, working to build our list of followers and develop a valuable and reliable source of information for them. My personal Twitter account foundered, a neglected sibling in my attentions.

And then there are my blogs. Yes, I have two. I had this idea that I could post about goings-on “Behind the ‘Zine” for work and write more reflectively in my personal quest to be “Making Sense of the Pieces.” But when I started ramping up the frequency of my posts for “Behind the ‘Zine,” (especially after I decided to accept the Post a Day Challenge), I essentially choked the life out of my personal blog. It’s hard enough to find time to write one post a day, let alone two, when you work full time.

But it’s also becoming increasingly more difficult to separate the work from the personal. My work pretty much is my life. Much of my identify and personal growth is wrapped up in my experiences heading a magazine. And now that my two sons are grown, gone and fully self-sufficient, even my time outside of work is largely spent on independent writing projects that have spun off of interests and passions I am now able to pursue.

Intentionally or not, I’ve blurred the lines I’d hoped to draw in my social media presence. There is no logical way to keep these two sides of my life separate. And thankfully, most of the contacts I make through my work are really amazing people with whom I’d welcome a friendship, if only we all had 48 hours in a day.