Saturday, September 01, 2007

a wedding and a funeral

The wedding - Congratulations to Kelli and Damien

Today we attended the wedding of our neighbor's oldest daughter. This is their first child to get married and it was a huge deal for them. The parents went all out to have an amazing event. The wedding service was presided over by a Catholic priest from Nigeria. He was engaging and funny while still being genuine and respectful. The reception was at the South Carolina Aquarium, and it was a lovely venue for the event. The food was wonderful and the cupcakes were crazy good!

This wedding was particularly interesting to me because it is the first black wedding I have ever attended. The traditions, the flow, the whole vibe and atmosphere was so different from any other wedding I have ever been to. It was a celebration of life in general, and was particularly striking in light of how my weekend started.

The funeral

In January 1995 I left my partner of nearly 3 years and moved in with James* and Steve. Steve and I became very close friends and did pretty much everything together. After living with them for nearly two years I decided to get back into the dating scene. Very soon after that I met Myron and moved to Charleston in May 1997. Over the course of the next several years Steve and I kept in touch, and since we were only 5 hours apart we visited each other fairly regularly. The distance changed the dynamic of the friendship, but it didn't particularly bother me. I'm not a particularly social person and, truthfully, am quite content being alone. I have no problem picking up where I left off with someone a few months or even a few years later.

Through the years the nature of the friendship changed. As I aged I matured, I started therapy, I was learning more about myself. Steve was also doing therapy, changing hobbies, and trying out new things. Then things took a weird turn. Comments were made about me not calling, e-mailing or visiting as often as Steve did. It escalated to Steve saying I must not care as much as he did because I didn't behave how he thought I should. I felt more like a long distance lover than a long distance friend. We had a rather heated exchange about what I perceived to be inappropriate neediness, but Steve thought was just part of being a friend. By this time we had nearly a decade of history together, so I agreed to try to work through the issues. In retrospect I think I was hoping that one of us would come to see the other's point of view more clearly.

I never should have agreed to do that, though. It was incredibly unfair to Steve because I had already checked out. I see now that for me the friendship was dead when it became clear that Steve's definition of friendship carried with it a list of demands I had no intention of meeting. I knew what it would take to be his friend and I thought I could fake my way through it. I carried on the charade for four or five years, and this past Friday after one more "you don't care" outburst I finally told Steve I was through with the pretense.

I can't change the past and I'm not going to beat myself up for doing what I thought was right at the time. I mourned the loss of the friend I had a long time ago. Now it's time to bury the guilt and move on. I'll try to learn from the mistakes.

*Not their real names.

1 comment:

  1. I feel your pain. Actually, I've been on both sides of the equation at one time or another. Luckily, with a little therapy (not to mention anti-depressants!) I was able to overcome the neediness. One thing I have learned is that people have very different opinions on what constitutes a friendship. My partner, even after several years, still feels the pain of losing his best friend when the friend found a partner. The guy just dropped him like a hot potato and they had been close for years. I guess the guy just understands (or values) friendship in a very different way. Go figure.