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Seeking…and finding….

December 13th, 2004 · 1 Comment

Snippy described her search for friends

I have plenty of imaginary friends… […] … that is, people I only know online, whether through Livejournal or Usenet or various web communities. What I want is a few more people colocated within a hour’s drive, people I could go to the movies with, or have over for dinner, or call when I need help with the yard (naturally they could also count on me for support).

So when I’m getting to know new people, I feel a strong drive to be likeable. Underneath this is a weak sense that I’m not naturally likeable, not likeable for who I am. (Actually, I feel this sometimes even with long-term acquaintances that I’d like to turn into close friends.) It’s often tempting to shade the truth, or hide some part of me that I’m afraid they will find objectionable–after all, most of this stuff isn’t relevant to forming this particular friendship…….

Also this week, Darren Barefoot linked to Tristan Miller’s Why I Will Never Have a Girlfriend. Apparently others have posted on this essay also.

Tristan Miller employed qualifications and calculations to determine how many women on the planet (according to 1998 stats) could be potential partners. Miller wrote

In that case, referring to our previous calculation, only 15.8655% of females would consider someone with my physical characteristics and personality acceptable as a potential romantic partner.

Like Snippy, I would like to find some local friends. And like Tristan Miller, I figure my odds of finding what I want are slim. Or rather I have too many qualifications for people I want to be close to me.

Reading Miller’s piece, I kept wanting to interrupt and correct him. I wanted to tell him that perhaps he has too many restrictions. After all, how can you tell with whom you will fall in love? Ted and I may not have chosen each other if we had made such lists. I know for certain that we don’t fit Tristan Miller’s criteria: we are five years apart in age. But we became good friends. Then boyfriend and girlfriend. We exchanged vows and rings thirteen years ago next month and we’re still having fun, falling more in love through the ups and downs of married life. Love isn’t logical. And it often refuses to follow a plan or fit itself into calculations. Who knows, maybe Tristan Miller might fall in love with someone who he doesn’t think is beautiful or intelligent enough…? Or someone who is not from one of the countries he has pre-selected?

I saw myself in snippy’s post. And I saw myself in Tristan Miller’s piece too. I fear that I will never find many friends where we live now. From time to time I think about what I would like to find in an ideal best friend. And then I think that this person would be such a rare creature; odds declare there is no way she could exist on this small island.

Laura’s post this week also reflected pieces of myself to me.

It’s funny how precious certain things that you once took for granted or even looked forward to dumping become when they are in jeopardy. This house, small and in a lower class, even bordering on sketchy, neighborhood has suddenly come to mean very much to me. I look at the old scratched wood floors, dearly in need of refinishing, and think of the first steps taken upon it by my children. I look at the tile countertops which drive me crazy because they won’t stay clean and ponder how many loaves of bread I’ve kneaded upon them to sustain my family. I look at the walls we’ve painted, the icons hung, the decorations, the piano with it’s parade of family pictures and I am thankful for the life we’ve given this home. It has sustained us and sheltered us from hurricanes, blizzards and even the scorching summer sun. It’s a humble home, but it does the trick.

As a family we have had our financial ups and downs. After 9/11 Ted’s consulting work slowed. It was a tight time for us. Although I had had dreams of what I wanted to do with our house and yard, and what kind of car I wanted to drive, I learned to surrender them all in gratitude for what we had. Precious is an appropriate word. Suddenly what we had became precious because we didn’t have much.

There’s a joy in finding contentment in the commonplace. In learning to love the scratched floors or the mismatched sofas. For me it has been a big struggle to learn to like our garden, so different from my dreams. But now I am learning to be happy with what we have. I think I learned the lesson. Yet I know I can always learn more. One can never own enough humility.

And as I assembled all these posts together, I realized that contentment is hard to come by in relationships even though people are more precious than any possession I might have learned to cherish. Too often I worship a childlike ideal, images of friendship I picked up from picture books. Like Tristan Miller I sometimes have a concept of whom I would choose to love, but love and friendship often don’t fit into plans. In my lonelier, more-misunderstood moments of moping, I hope to find a mirror image of me, someone who would know exactly what I like, need and want to do. As if I am the perfect friend (or spouse!) myself. None of Laura’s humble pie or quiet contentment here: mine is a proud and selfish model.

What we believe we need and what we need are often different from each other. I believe we need diversity. We need people who are different from ourselves in our lives. And we need people who are different from whomever we would like them to be. For we are not who we think we are either. I know I am not.

Tags: friends

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 joann // Dec 15, 2004 at 10:00 pm

    Good post, Julie. 🙂

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