Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Old boyfriends are a new breed of friends?

What do you do with old boyfriends? I'm not talking "old" as in "we broke up last week." I'm talking "we were together like 3 years ago." And somehow I always have the strangest conversations with him. They're playful, comical, reminiscent of the banter we used to have years ago, yet more refined, more if there's always something more to say but neither of us actually says it. They're also rather deep at times...because we still know each other well, even after all these years. Some things about a person never really change.

Do I enjoy being able to converse with him sans bitterness and underlying resentment? Absolutely. Do I still find some of the things he says odd? Yeah, because I tend to read into them more than I should almost out of habit from the days before the bitterness went away.

It's an interesting relationship that is comforting because of the familiarity, but at the same time uncertain because of the history that will always exist between us. And at what point does the relationship we now function under become one of pure friendship, without that fear of "what if he wants to try again?" Does it EVER really become "pure friendship?" Can it?

Even as I ask all of these questions of myself (and the undefined air around me, and you I suppose, since you're reading this), I realize that they don't matter all that much. In the end, I enjoy this new level of acquaintance with him. So different, and yet not as different as I think. Talking to him is like wrapping myself up in a favorite blanket and reading an old book that I've read many times over...both evoke the same feeling of familiarity and security. Nothing overly scary. I don't have to be on my toes and ready for something unexpected. (I know that almost seems to contradict what I've said earlier in this makes sense in my head...)

I guess this isn't so much a question of "what you do with old boyfriends" as it is an observation about a completely separate classification of social interaction...interactions that are nothing like any other type of interaction with any other group of people. It's an interesting relationship...friendship based on lessening the intensity of interaction rather than increasing the intensity.

**Note: I purposely do not use the term "ex" in this has such negative connotations. While I did once consider him as such, he's no longer attached to the negative stigma that comes with that term. So, when typing this, I DO make the distinction between the two. I don't believe that this sort of relationship classification is possible with an "ex."

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 you sing in it or chant at it to go away?

Isn't it funny how sometimes rain is the perfect weather pattern, and other times it's just a huge burden? Rain has always been associated with more depressing and gloomy feelings. Movies use rain to portray a character's sullenness, or to foreshadow sad or depressing events. Storms, though more exciting, still signify more negative things. ("It was a dark and stormy night...") And there are certainly times when the rain goes right with a sad, negative mood of mine. But there are also times in which I feel it's more appropriate to bring to mind the movie "Singin' in the Rain." Rain doesn't get enough positive association. It seems that, for a lot of people, rain creates a bad mood. But it doesn't have to! Rain is soothing...I love to walk down the street with rain washing down my face. Rain brings puddles...the deep ones make the BEST sounds when you jump in them! Rain brings out all sorts of interesting looking umbrellas...umbrellas are really personal accessories--everyone has something different. Rain beats the heat of muggy weather...hey, that's always a plus! And when you're in a giddy mood, rain dances around you with joy! So, if you're someone who automatically starts chanting "Rain, rain, go away! Come again some other day!" when those drops from the sky start falling, try this instead: go outside, jump in a puddle, and start "singin' in the rain!"

Monday, August 29, 2005

Old Blue Eyes

Frank Sinatra fits any mood. Think about's true! You're giddy? Listen to a little "You Make Me Feel So Young." You're content? How about a little soothing "New York, New York" (or pretty much anything of his, really). Feeling a little down? He's got ya covered with his "Serenade in Blue." Or perhaps you're just simply happy (and no other word quite describes the mood)? I suggest a round of "I Get a Kick Out of You." What is it about him? He's just got an intoxicating presence, a way of luring you in and holding you fast...just with his voice. He always makes me want to get up and tap my feet, dance around the room, and sing or hum along. (In fact, I'm having trouble finishing this post because I keep getting up to dance to this song or that!) Really, Frankie is the answer to any mood. Put him on, and you'll always end up dancing!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Old Friends...and new friends

A good friend of mine from college is in town for the weekend to visit. It's funny...she and I haven't seen each other in over a year, and yet it's almost as if no time has passed. Those are the types of friends I enjoy the most. True, people have all sorts of types of friends: work friends, neighborhood friends, childhood friends (perhaps), school friends, friends from college, acquaintances who are a bit more than just that, and on and on. And different kinds of friends require different levels of attention, different amounts of interaction. Some friends you want to get to know better to deepen the friendship. Some you'd rather the friendship didn't go as deep as it does. Many come and go as you try each other out and veer off on different paths. But the friends that really matter, to me, are those that don't require a lot of "strategic care." The kind that know you well from years past, who accept you for who you are and continue to accept the new choices you make, and who put forth the effort to stay in touch despite the distances that life create over time.

When I was young, I used to think that more friends equaled a higher status (didn't we all?), and though I had a small inner circle of "close friends," I prided myself on knowing as many people as I could. Those people I knew were generally considered "friends" in my mind. I continue to be one who enjoys knowing many people from different social circles that I'm involved with in my life. I guess getting older has taught me an important difference between "friends," "acquaintances," and simply "people I know." I enjoy each subgroup for different reasons: sometimes it's nice and refreshing to be in a group of people who don't really know me all that well...because then I have the mystery of discovering people's stories and they have the option of pursuing the mystery of who I am. But at other times, it's nice to be among people who know me so well that I don't always have to talk. We can just enjoy each other's company because there are times when there's simply nothing to be said.

I explored new parts of downtown today with such a friend as that. It was fun to hear her stories from her year, and it was fun to catch her up to speed with my own stories. I enjoy reflection of past experiences, and this is another type of reflection I suppose. As I told her things, I tended to see old experiences in new ways. What's great about a friend like her is that I could then share those new revelations and she appreciated them as well!

I wish that all relationships could be as simple as that. No drama involved, no judgment, no pressure to conform to something I'm not. As a young girl, I used to dream of the day when we all "grew up" and all of that drama and judging and peer pressure disappeared, and what was left was healthy, mature, "adult" relationships. Well, I'm 24, and still waiting. Though 24 is a young age, somehow I don't see myself ever getting to that childhood dream-place. Friendships (all of them) take time, care, and love. I guess I'm realizing that some are more worth my time and energy than others, some are more rewarding than others, and some take energy that I'd rather not give but I'm not sure how to avoid. I'm also realizing that the friendships I most enjoy are those that have developed over many years, and that have room left to grow and change and strengthen. However, that's not to say that I will stop meeting new people and making new friends and dealing with new bouts of friendship drama. The old friends and I went through that phase already. The new friends have no chance of becoming those worthwhile friends in my life unless we reach that drama.

The old Girl Scout song that sings, "Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver, and the other gold," is a total cliche but, like most cliches, is completely true. Old friends are gold. Valuable. Long-lasting. Can weather (and indeed *have* weathered) the storm. New friends are silver. Not quite as valuable as gold, but still worth the work to find. In the end, we all own a little gold and a little silver. They complete different parts of our wardrobe. And we all have a few old friends, and perhaps more than a few new friends. They complete different parts of our life.

Here's to old friends and new friends (red friends and blue friends?) and their separate, but equally important, places in our lives.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Peace and Not-So-Quiet of the City?

I guess this all starts with the observation that a walk around downtown has always been a peaceful thing for me. I love to turn my headphones off, and just listen to the sounds of the city. And this is all still very novel to me. Growing up in the outer suburbs of the Twin Cities in MN, I never really knew what "city sounds" were (beyond the notion of cars driving and honking and people walking and talking). My favorite part of Boston, after having lived here a year, is still a walk around the Copley Square & Pru Mall area, and then a trek up to the Common to people watch. I could spend hours wandering that area. It's odd, because it helps me think. I always thought that I'd like secluded places where I could hear my thoughts...but it turns out that the hustle and bustle of the city gives my mind enough background noise to be able to concentrate on my thoughts. Too much quiet is unnerving...and creates too much space for my thoughts to travel into. As I explore Boston, I find myself making mental notes of places that have a good amount of noise, but a comfortable feel...those are the places I go to read a book and soak in the feeling of Boston. I guess everyone has a different view of the city they live in...depending on what they tend to be drawn toward. For me, Boston is the little known (or maybe more known than I think) corners hidden from plain sight that provide just enough stimulus to block out and let me focus on thoughts or a book or something one might do on a peaceful day in the country (stereotypically speaking).

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