Some say that high school friends last your lifetime. They see you at your worst, watch you bloom into your finest and if you’re lucky, end up being your go-to gang for everything. Others think it’s in college that you meet the people you’ll spend unforgettably depressed, dumb or drunken nights with—people you’ll eventually work with, regularly hang out with, go to bed with, etcetera, etcetera.
What is it really that makes for a good friendship?
Where is it that you meet people at their worst and marvel at them when at their best? Where do you find yourself latching onto each other when there’s nothing else to latch on?
How much history does there have to be for there to be a future?
And how in heaven’s name do we actually find friends, learn to make them and more importantly, keep them?
Facebook tells me I have 1, 156 friends. Yet experience tells me otherwise.
You don’t necessarily become best friends with the person you’ve known longest. Time and numbers aren’t always right. There are times when a single conversation with a stranger makes all the difference and you just know, at that moment, that you’ve found and made a friend.
Being in a far flung place, alone and awkward (with myself and others) made me long for a sense of familiarity and comfort, for a piece of normalcy and ease with people and my surroundings. How was I supposed to make friends at such a short time and at a rather competitive environment? Theater people can be such egotistically aloof bitches that you don’t quite know how to maneuver your way around them.
Speak of the devil, I’m a thespian. Therefore, a potential bitch.
I must admit that it was difficult thrusting myself into the environment and trusting these strangers. I had my qualms about getting too close for comfort and getting stabbed in the back (or worse, in front) afterwards. How was I supposed to open myself up to a bunch of people who had the capacity or inclination to sabotage the only Asian? Exaggerated as that sounds, it felt as though we were all at the cusp of racial discrimination and a deathly threatening competition.
In my head, I would cuss and curse and say abominably racist things like “Whatever. You smell.” or “F$%k you, I can have you cremated.”—all because I felt vulnerable and threatened.
What I didn’t realize however was that I may have been wrong. And what I, too often, overlook, is that not everyone is out to get me. Contrary to what I want to believe and what I hold to be more believable in life, friendships can still exist across borders and beyond boundaries of various kinds.
I did make friends this week. And good ones that can potentially last a lifetime.
Why and how?
I say, it was because we experienced life from one vantage point, at least momentarily. We all shared the fear of looking foolish. We all came forward with our insecurities, succumbing to the feeling of vulnerability, and letting faith take over doubt.
Friendship, while it normally boasts of the pleasant, also thrives in times of the bad and ugly. It ironically flourishes in times of trouble, difficulty and pain.
So what then makes for a good friendship?
I don’t actually know.
All I know for sure (for now) is that friendships go as far the distance you allow them to go further or deeper into you. It’s sharing a piece of yourself and a slice of life that makes it possible.
In my case, it was the common experience of looking like fools, getting embarrassed, feeling naked and being threatened, pressured or “judged” that made it possible.
Sure, you fall flat on your face, screw a line or two, go flat on a note, but at least, you weren’t alone.
At least, you have a friend. (Well, sort of.)