There are friends… and there are friends. I”ve always ahdered to the traditional sense of the word, which according to Mr. Webster, is one whom we hold in high esteem or share a particular affection for. Yeah. Okay. No thanks to social politicking that the word's meaning has evolved into something so convoluted. The basic fundamentals of the word are still there, I agree, but it has become more complicated than it really should be.
I liken friendship into a pyramid — like the great Egyptan ones. It's quite short really, this pyramid of mine, with an ultimately wide base. The higher up you go, the intimacy level increases exponentially, thereby significantly narrowing the top. It's an odd-looking one, you may deduce.
The first level of my pyramid is the widest. It is the category where my acquaintances, colleagues (generally) and chums fall in. All our friendships have to start from here, don't you agree? We meet people and from there, we cultivate the relationship. However, as time goes by, I have realized that the nourishment of my little pyramid seems to be the healthiest at the base. I have met so many people from different walks of life… and they seem to stay as acquaintances most of the time. I'm constantly at crossroads of sorts due to my constant hopping and well, the lack of time's availability. We have established that as beings of survival, we tend to unconsciously sell our souls to the devil's whim called work and career. Given that, we tend to be choosy as to how we spend the very rare free time we are handed. Thus, significantly slashing the opportunities we have to get to know people.
I have quite a lengthy list of people on my mobile phone's contact list. However, I can tell you frankly that there are probably only six people that I really correspond with on a regular basis. The polite exchanging of numbers during dinner parties and social gatherings have caused my list to swell. Also, I have to thank the first few degrees of separation for this. Friends of friends of friends. By association, you are obliged to give the proverbial air kisses if you bump into them in the streets whilst shopping or traipsing about. You have to feign interest in their job/family/hobbies/friends for courtesy's sake. It can be quite exhausting, really. It makes me think twice about the amount of effort that socialites put in their lives — maybe, just maybe, they can be respected for that after all. One can only have so much for pretending to like others and having to scrape the barrel to engage in small talk. I don't know how some people can make it a way of life.
Within this wide base of acquaintances, a few outstanding ones emerge to the surface and boost themselves up to the next level. I call them my meal buddies. These people, naturally, are those that I seem to have the slightest chemistry with — at least enough for me to willingly endure an hour of food intake and swapping stories with. Discussions generally consist of topics that both are removed from — in other words, safe topics that will not hit nerves. Thank heavens the world is quite big and that there's usually enough about it that can be dissected before it is thoroughly exhausted.
I consider myself fortunate to have quite a few of these friends — they help make the mundane patches in life easier to ignore. And living vicariously through other people's experiences gives us a break from what we know. Stumbling upon other people who more or less have things in common with us is becoming an art — because it's beginning to get rare. These meal buddies of mine double as movie buddies, travel buddies, drinking buddies… name it! I don't mind spending time with them as long as it's still fun.
When the fun ends, however, there are two options that one can take. And usually, it involves the evaluation of relationship. Once a speed bump is hit through the course of the friendship, it can go two days: either up the pyramid or not. Once, one of my very good meal buddies opened up to me that he was gay and that his relationship with his parents were struggling as he came from a typical WASPy family. And his secret gay partner still was not out of the closet and is constantly beating him up. He was so in love with him that it never occured to him to walk out of the abusive relationship. I knew from that night onwards that he got catapulted into a notch higher in my life. We spent all night until the sun rose talking about his troubles. It made me see another side of him. One that I never thought existed, or at least one that I never though I'd see.
Friends like those I generally consider as friends. The real deal. That's where I really draw the line that distinguishes my friends from the others. There is a certain degree of closeness between me and my friends — however, my guards remain up. Contrary to what other people perceive me as, it takes quite a bit for me to trust people. I open myself up enough for them to think I'm transparent, but I'm not. It's like inviting friends into my house, my home even, but there will always be that certain room, perhaps the attic, that no one knows about. And in there lays the very core of my being.
I'm very selective in allowing friends into the attic — which is the final, topmost and smallest part of my pyramid. They are so few that I may have more fingers in my hands than soulmates like that. Very few people know me for who I am. Such relationships are founded through time and experiences and well, I just never had much of that luxury. My biggest weakness is the inability to show my weaknesses to others. And those that actually know of my weaknesses are those people that I trust the most. I love them and I will do anything for them. I think it's just fair to say that in our lifetimes, we really only get a couple of really close friends who would lay their life for us… and those that we'll lay our lives for. They double my joy and divide my pain.
Friends come and go — all the time — may they be on the first, second or third level in my pyramid. I've lost friends whom I thought were on their way to the topmost level. Though it's sad, I've learned to accept that just like most things in life, friends are fleeting. I am thankful for the creation of memories. Nonetheless, soulmates are there to stay no matter which corner of the globe you're at. I miss them every single day for they form a major part of me. My relationship with them can withstand distances, differences in timezones, the passage of time itself, environmental and personal changes, but best of all, the love only grows stronger. Numerous farewells and goodbyes to each other are never a good enough reason to say farewell and goodbye for good.
One friend in a lifetime is much; two are many; three are hardly possible — Henry Adams