Sunday, August 14, 2016

Notes from a year named Thrive: August

More than a decade ago, when I moved to LA someone told me the people I met in my first year there were going to be the people who introduced me to the people who would really be my friends. As a young thing, I found this rather distressing because I was having enough trouble making the first round of friends.

Also, as a young thing, I'd misunderstood that no one was telling me to invest the time and energy into making friends for the purpose of them being temporary or stops on the way to someone better. They were talking about growing social circles and how you're widening the net you can cast to find your people. Lasting friendships—not merely acquaintanceships formed because you're new somewhere and having someone to be new-in-town with makes it all less lonely.

I also didn't understand that just because you know someone doesn't mean you're friends. Culturally-speaking, we've been carving away at the idea of acquaintances for years. (Thanks, Facebook.) Having acquaintances was something I also had to learn. To understand they're the people who I know and enjoy interacting with, but I don't routinely seek them out or make a point to check in on them.

The people I stretch for—dig down deep to find those extra damns—are also the people I trust with things that matter. My friends are far less than the number of people I know. It's a longer list than it used to be or I thought it was, because I've got some casual friends that have consented to offer support when it's needed. But people who I want to spend a lot of time with is not a high number.

Earlier this year I had to forcibly subtract from it, because a couple people I felt very close to proved themselves to be dramatically not good for me. In the months since this went down, it hasn't been easy. I really felt the absence and the loss of those pillars of my support network.

Also, I fretted about any potential encounters. What would they say. What would I say. It was inevitable that we were going to cross paths again even in a city the size of Toronto. For example, there was a wedding coming up that we were all going to attend.

Yesterday I went to the ceremony, and when I finally saw these former friends... I realized I had nothing to say to them. I didn't want a reconciliation; I wanted them to stay away from me. I was there to celebrate, and I had no reason to interact with people who no longer had a place in my life.

Thankfully, we were purposefully seated at different ends of the restaurant. When I settled in, I put my efforts into socializing with the people at my table. Eventually my worries faded, and when I happened to see these former friends across the room it felt like nothing more than seeing someone who looks familiar—someone I used to know, but haven't seen in years and maybe can't quite place how I knew them.

I came to Toronto five years ago. One of these former friends was among the first people I knew; she introduced me to a lot of other people. Including the two who got married yesterday. I guess what I was told about LA might apply to any city. Or any life, really.