July 18, 2008

As I was watching the season premiere of Saving Grace the other day, I realized I was jealous of Grace. Not for Earl, who let's face it is a pain in the ass; not for her job - although I wanted to be a cop for much of my growing up - not for the reckless abandonment in how she lives her life.

As far as I can tell, Grace's character grew up in Oklahoma City - a town I lived in briefly as well and spent many summers there as my mom's parents lived there for much of my growing up. I envy Grace's roots and her ability to have a childhood friendship mature into that thing I find so very rare: an adult "BFF."

Since we moved so very frequently when I was a child, I really never felt rooted to one place. I suppose that since we lived in Austin the longest during my early childhood, that's why I feel the most connected to that area. Even though my "BFF" was due to move to Longmont, Colorado, within a few weeks of our moving to Arlington, I was devastated by having to move once again and losing the friendships I'd made.

Growing up Catholic in Texas - as I'm sure Grace felt in Oklahoma - was something that made you a bit of an outsider. You knew who all the other Catholic kids were in your class because you knew each other from Wednesday night CCD classes.

That was one strike against me.

Then, I made friends with Tracy and Jill (and then Annette and Jenny), which was wonderful while it lasted - but unfortunately, the self-appointed leader of the group apparently decided I was a threat and tried to convince much of the school that I was crazy and forbid other kids to have anything to do with me. Of course, she didn't have nearly as much power as she thought she did ... but most of the kids I knew at that time were at least influenced by her. It was ages before I found new friends. By that point, it was 6th grade and we were all going to different junior highs the next year. And just as I settled in to some new friendships? I was shuttled off to the other junior high and started over again.

Today, I live some 800 miles from Arlington and I keep in touch digitally with only a couple of friends from back in the day. And all of that moving - whether it was moving home or changing schools - didn't make it easier for me to make friends - it made me quieter and more reserved with my friendships.

Until the internet.

Don't get me wrong, there is still no childhood BFF lurking on Los Interwebz for me. But back in 1993 or so, I discovered a Listserv email list out of Missouri called the Crewtons, a list for Creative Writing types. From that list, a small subset of us became friends. We called ourselves the Banshees: Sara and Annie/Maureen out on the left coast. Suz from Missouri. Luann from Illinois. Tamara from Georgia. Dawn on the east coast. We chatted about everything for about ten years. And then, our little group just faded apart. Luann lost her internet access, and her computer. Annie's world more or less collapsed on her. Suz was struggling with several things - Tamara was getting well and truly established in her life and was having issues with family. Dawn faded out and then back in a few times.

Essentially, everyone became consumed by "real life" and gradually eased away from their computer friends.

When I started blogging back in 2005, I stumbled across BlogExplosion and made friends in the shoutbox there. It was a lot of fun and I made a few really good friends. We kept in contact for quite a while after we all tired of BlogExplosion. The same thing happened when we moved to BlogMad. And then BlogCatalog.

And just as with the Banshees, people keep dropping away because their "real life" demands it in some way. The guys I used to work with at my last job - we kept in touch via IM for a while. Today, one never really logs in, one rarely talks - the third and I still have good talks.

And it occurred to me as I was watching Saving Grace, that I am tired of moving from online community to online community as we moved from state to state as a kid. I am tired of watching tiny online groups of friends dissipate like so much morning fog, insubstantial in the light of day despite how real and solid it felt in the night.

You see, the problem for me might be a symptom of ADHD or perhaps how I was raised or perhaps Asperger's. But when I can deal with only text on the screen, the interactions make more sense to me. If we add in both tone of voice and body language - I can't figure out intent any more. Phone conversations often drive me completely batty. But just one set of input - words - and I feel like I "get it." So the dearth of staying power for many online friendships is a source of frustration for me.

All friendship is fleeting and subject to a plethora of ups and downs, I know. But there's something particularly poignant to me about watching Grace and Rhetta's friendship.

How many of you have a BFF, childhood or not? A few close friends? A slew of people you talk to?

Posted by Red Monkey at July 18, 2008 8:50 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Tara R. said:

Since we've lived in our current home for most of our kids' lives they have that continuity their dad and I didn't growing up. My college kids is still friends with people she knew in elementary school and will most likely keep them for a very long time still. I don't have a lot of close friends, but the ones I do have are fabulous.

I actually tracked down my BFF from high school. (Part of my job is internet research, if you know a few tricks it's not difficult to find people. :D) Anyhoo, I sent an e-mail to her, hoping to reconnect. Her response began with 'how did you find me?' Needless to say, our reunion did not pan out like I had hoped.

July 18, 2008 3:19 PM

I only have a few close friends in real life, and about the same amount online. Most of my non-internet friends don't live near me anymore, so that makes things difficult, as you mentioned.

July 19, 2008 12:16 PM


Jackal said:

I have no friends in real life - I have had 2 real friends, unfortunately I am an all or nothing type person and I give my all to those who I allow to get close. That usually means I am too intense for many to cope with.
I have had 2 real deep friendships - one based in person and one through the internet - who I went to Canada to visit - both crumbled. Devastated, I am reluctant to ever get close to another friend again. I am alone. It has had a negative impact as I feel there is something so fundamentaly wrong with me. Throw in mental illness and it all seems so hopeless that anyone will ever like me - for me.

Why is it I give so much but never get the same back??

Anyway, I found the internet an avenue to 'meet' others - but again, I would come across folks I felt I could connect to. However, with trust being such an issue and all my self doubt I question if those I interact with actually do give a damn or if they are just fleeting. I have come across a few folks I have felt there to be potential just to see them ' disappear' - so it makes me reluctant to reach out and connect with others incase they disappear and I lose yet another connection.

July 20, 2008 7:10 AM


Leslie said:

I'm lucky to have had the best BFF ever for the last 13 years, she happens to be one of my only friends i didn't date. Sometimes it seems to me that all my friends happen to be my x lovers and that makes me sad. In the end they know the most about me, and don't reject me.

July 22, 2008 1:52 AM
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