I don’t have a lot of friends.
At least that’s the first thing I think about when the topic comes up in conversation.
Then…the world burns down like it has been recently and I realize just how many people there are for whom I care so deeply…about whom I worry so much about…about whom I would fall apart if I found out something happened to them.
I have a dear friend in Ohio who I met in high school. Our meeting was something out of a Douglas Coupland novel…just perfect in its tragic and ironic poetry. We lost touch for a time but reconnected.
I have another dear friend who I met in high school and lives much too far away for us to see each other. We text as often as we can but you guys know how it is.
Another set of good friends recently moved out of state. They had to leave for a too-good-to-pass-up career opportunity. Again, we message here and there about the kids and what not but there won’t be too many more double dates in our future.
One of my dearest and oldest friends lives here in Houston but our lives won’t allow us to see each other nearly as often as either of us would like. When we were kids we spent time together literally every day. We learned how to play music, how to write songs, how to do pretty much everything together. Then life tore us apart and the magic of the internet brought us back together.
So it isn’t that I don’t have any friends…it’s that I don’t get to connect with my friends in the kind of organic, intimate way I’d like….in the way it seems is only possible when we’re kids, staying up late with no “real” responsibilities but with all the freedom that youth seems to allow yet appearing to be anything but freedom at the time.
I hear about their lives, their adventures, their struggles and challenges. Every single time I find myself wishing I could offer more than an emoticon. I want to solve their problems. I want to celebrate their joys. I want to hug them and kiss them and hold them and high five them and wipe their tears and lend them 50 bucks and put a band aid on their souls because I love them so…but life doesn’t work like that.
Then the world burns like it has been for a while…..Baton Rouge, Minnesota, Dallas….
I just want to grab everyone of them and lock them in a room in my house and keep them there…safe, together…away from the danger. I’ll go out into the world and bring back food. Let me take the risk. I’ll venture out into this crazy world because I don’t matter to me as much as they matter to me.
But life doesn’t work like that.
Sometimes all we can offer are emoticons and hope. Sometimes all we can do is hope that they’ll be safe…hope that they’ll make it home ok…hope that their kids don’t catch whatever the hell is going around this time…hope that their spouses watch out for them….hope that everything will just be ok.
Richard Bach wrote “There’s No Such Place as Faraway.”
It’s one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read and I’ve been living it for several years now. I try to take those words to heart. I really do but still, I can’t help but miss my friends.
They ARE faraway…Ohio, Alabama, California…hell, even League City and SW Houston might as well be Mars sometimes.
Life can create such distance between us.
So…I just cling to them, each of them, as best I can and I try to bathe their souls in love and hope that they get through whatever they’re getting through at any given moment.
I can’t help it. As antisocial as I am…as much anxiety as “people” create for me, I can’t help but be a fixer…a passionate lover who wants nothing more than to protect the people I love.
The fact that I simply can’t do that has provided me with more frustration, more anxiety and a greater sense of failure than anything else in this world.
Be safe my friends. I love you all and want nothing more than to know you’re ok…than to be the reason for even a tiny smile to crack your lips, and for you to know that I’m here…always….waiting to give you a virtual hug or tell a lame joke or give unwanted advice or offer the world which I can’t give but will die trying.
You guys be safe out there.