the other day mel asked me how i would define friend. i'd told her i wasn't a very good one, that my definition wasn't the best. she wanted me to tell her anyway.
i really don't know how. i had friends when i was little. kelli and i played barbie all the time. i spent a lot of time at julie's house. i met jennifer because her mother taught pre-k, and then she and i were in all the same classes after that. there was deborah and felicia and kerry and...
then i turned eight and everything changed. and just as i was beginning to acclimate it changed again. and again. and again. and again... i never was in a place long enough to forge a friendship with anyone. so that by the time i was in my early twenties... instead of going out, i'd go to the outback or to denny's or to ihop and write. or i'd curl up with a book.
i had acquaintances--i'd met them because they were friends with my little brother--who were in bands. i'd go to bars and hang out with them on breaks and whatnot. but i was never needed there. i'd go so far as to say i wasn't wanted there, but i loved hearing them play, and i didn't have anything better to do, so i went, knowing that they didn't give a shit that i was there, that they'd rather i not be there.
i graduated from college. i worked. i played on my computer. i wrote. i lurked in bars where more talented, more affable folks seemed to revel in life's goodness. eventually i got tired of being a groupie. i moved to san antonio, where i lived for five years or so. i came back home. i worked. i wrote.
i work. i write.
i don't socialize, unless it's with the barstaff and servers at pappadeaux's (and so often i feel that they think of me like those musicians thought of me... but the physical dimensions of the bar are quite nice--the height of the thing in relation to the barstool... that kind of thing--the aesthetics of it please me, and the bartenders know how to make a drink). i don't like doing it. i'm awful at it. it's easier, so much easier to just avoid doing it.
a friend doesn't shut people out to save herself the embarrassment of awkward interactions. she doesn't ignore people because speaking to them is too difficult. she doesn't prefer texting to talking because she can't appreciate the chattiness of a conversation. she doesn't overcompensate by talking too much. she doesn't spend her days holed up in her room because she feels the world would be better off if she weren't in it. she's not selfish. or self-absorbed. she's not lazy. or thoughtless. or demanding. she doesn't need constant affirmation that she's not annoying. she doesn't begin every paragraph with i. she doesn't fill your heart with sadness and angst. she doesn't quit when a thing's too challenging. she doesn't leave a friend alone at a bar because a boy's caught her attention.
i don't know what makes a friend good. i know what makes one bad. i know that quite well.