It’s taken me a while to get used to having friends. I have a handful of favourite people now. Friends, actually but, in a way I’m continuously surprised to recognize that they are in fact My Friends.
In the past week some of my close friends have had intense conversations with me, mostly about honesty and integrity. The week was anything but easy. These are people worth knowing. I feel lucky that they agree to be around me. With good luck in mind, I try hard to impress them with love and brilliance. I wonder if they are trying too. Or, are they just lovely and brilliant. Either way. When one of us breaks, it’s all broken anyways.
A Broken Friend is an iconic truth. All falsities including the fashion, the gossip, the cultural recommendations, the bar, the group of men sitting at the bar, the glances at the phone, all falsities become ruthless reminders of insecurity. This week, the canvas tents pitched around That Thing I Cannot Say all came down. Truth revealed. Friends. I am new to the world of friendship.
Throughout my life, without Kara’s confidence, a lot of envy and distrust has gotten in the way of my socialization. When I was young (again, in middle school, and I’m starting to realize that Middle School was a formative time, which is obvious, maybe, but not something I normally think about), I accepted the role of “TomBoy”, a term which may be offensive (I cannot decide). I accepted the term at the time because I wasn’t quite beautiful and I hadn’t yet discovered that I was smart. I accepted a contrived identity in order to settle myself into a given social environment.
To be clear, I didn’t Fit In. There were no other Tomboys. I went to a Hebrew school and we weren’t exactly overpopulated with athletic competitors. I found an open role. I took it.
Obviously I was brilliant. If I was an idiot, I would have become like everyone else. I chose a role that let me stand out. I stood out, possibly, too much. I was voted, VOTED, people, other kids VOTED me in as captain of the basketball team. I wasn’t good. I wasn’t even a little good. But I was the most athletic because that’s how I behaved.
I look back, I realize: I had no friends. I had people who were comfortable assigning me the role of a thing they could relate to. But, I had no friends. I saw, I have visual memories now, of people laughing at me, at my completely put-on enthusiasm for sports and sports culture. They weren’t my friends.
As soon as I hit high school, I lost the role of Tomboy because more popular girls were somehow elegantly invested in basketball (our only sport) and I was heavier than all of them. It was obvious I wasn’t an athlete, at least not in the way that they had decided they were athletes. At the time, I still did not know my own intelligence.
If you have kids, if you want to have kids, if you still feel like a kid, please hear this complex but instantly clarifying truth: Smart people need to know they are smart. If not, if we don’t know in time, our brains will lead us to do something that is seemingly stupid despite it’s complexity. In high school, I collapsed.
It’s a common story but I couldn’t even be familiar with my own kind at the time. I didn’t wear dark clothing or smoke or find that cool place that sad kids hang out in, maybe that’s all cinematic bullshit but I really just knew nothing but the weight of myself. I had no friends. I tried. I somehow, I have no idea how, I found my way onto student council. I tried excelling in English and Theatre, instinctively contributing where I thought I would be most valued but only one of my teachers valued me and the others, graduates of the private Hebrew high school I was attending, were still socially competitive and excluding me from activities, conversations, who knows, who really knows what I missed.
I’m telling you this not to point out that I was sad once. That would be a dead end.
I want to get to the part where I meet women I love. I want to get to the part where I live in a different country at a school I fought to get into and people really want to know how smart I am. People just believe it. Friends believe it. I want to get to the part where I can remind you and myself that Trying or Faking or Acting Like is exhausting. It expires. They found out I can’t play basketball. Kara has to wash the makeup off of her face. I watch a friend cry and I know, I can’t smile my way through this conversation about Right Now, I have to just be here because my intelligence isn’t meant to get me out of things, it’s meant to plant me deep into things, conversations, relationships, where I can think With someone instead of At them.
There are memories I have of people who were really good to me but I considered them kind of stupid. I don’t mean that in jest, I mean: I am sixteen and a summer camp counselor is being really nice to me but saying the shallowest things.
“Rachel, what’s wrong?”
“I just feel like no one listens to me.”
“Oh. Well. Maybe sometimes people just don’t need to listen.”
Or, younger than that, I remember fourth grade and a good friend asks me why I’m sad and she emotionally pummels me for an answer and I won’t repeat what I said but I promise you it was the saddest thing in the world. For an eight year old. And she said “Oh, ok.” and she cemented a look of dismay on her face to the point of my feeling bad for her.
I mean that, I really mean that, I don’t mean to insult Nice People. I believe that we’re all capable of being Nice People and we’re all capable of much more than that. The shallow advice given to me from people who weren’t my friends, who I hardly knew, that was the most they could do. This week, I look at my friends and I’m listening, trying to be Nice but I know there’s more intelligence to the friendship than that. It falls apart, it will all fall apart if we present opaque versions of the people we are to the people we love.
Kara is supposedly married. She posts images of something her husband did or is doing from time to time but, after this week, I want to know what it would be like for this person, who I only really know in body and image, I want to hear her yell at her husband. And then love him again.
There is too much ease in kindness now because we’re all posting the material layer of our lives online, we are content with a fine sheen of Life. But, if we collapse? If suddenly it expires?
I am emotively grateful to have good friends, close friends, people I love. I don’t have dozens of true confidants, I barely have five but last week I had spoken to all of them at least once and they were all nothing but authentic and present, which isn’t just more interesting, no, these friendships are bottomless wells of reality. Fake what you want, whatever ego you want online, real Being is really Being and it cannot be done without Those Few, the ones. Stop trying.
This blog is updated daily, detailing my transformation into a fictional character who is being crafted for a larger theatrical project. If you like it, please share to social media, follow the blog and come back soon
You can read Kara’s blog at http://www.okkarablog.wordpress.com
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