I was walking my dog back down the street toward my house, when I noticed my neighbor Dan standing in the middle of the street. This isn’t a problem as we live on a cul-de-sac, but I did wonder what he was up to. Usually, I’ll see him out there with his big Golden Retriever Tarouq. They will be playing or training. But this time, it was just Dan standing there, looking up at the sky, and then down at the ground, shaking his head slowly and wiping his eyes. Dan lives alone, with his dog. His kids live in New Jersey and he doesn’t get out much except to go places with his dog, or to ride his Harley. He talks with us, and the other neighbors, but generally keeps to himself (the PERFECT neighbor). So I stopped and could immediately tell that there was something wrong, so I asked what it was. He was pretty torn up about a phone call he’d just gotten about a childhood friend that had just passed away after a battle with liver cancer. He went on to tell me how close they had been, how long they’d known each other and how many other friends he had lost just in the last couple of years. I made all the polite , “sorry for your loss” type statements and then came in the house. And as always, I began to think on the whole subject of friends and loss, aging and death.
I’ve written a couple of times about how much we moved around when I was a kid. And how I never made any…..what you would call…..lifelong friends. There is ONE person on my Facebook page that I’ve known longer than anyone else (except my siblings) and even she and I weren’t really that close. We rode horses together, was in the same 4-H club and all that entailed. But I left the farm when I was about 16 years old, and that means that I haven’t had an actual conversation with her in over 40 years.
I used to lament the fact that I didn’t have many people in my life that had been there for any length of time. And of the people who I know, the ones that I would consider more than “circumstantial acquaintances” are very few. Btw…that’s a new phrase I read in a book last night and I LIKE IT. I used to say casual acquaintances, but that wasn’t really very descriptive. There are people who you meet and only know them when you are at a certain place, or group, so I think that “circumstantial acquaintances” is much more apt. Anyway, as usual, I digress.
So, I used to be sad that I didn’t have all these close close friends that I could hang onto for all the ages. But I think I’m glad that it’s like the way that it is for me now. Besides the fact, that I am very picky about who I let into my life, there’s also the maintenance that relationships require. And if I can’t take care of something completely and to the best of my ability, then it’s best if I just don’t get involved. I’ve seen it time and time again in my life with people and animals. Look how much of my meager bit of money I spend on my mini zoo. I’ve tried having the BFF a couple of times, and that didn’t work out so well, and I got my heart broke over it. I think I much prefer to keep people at a distance. Saves on the heartaches. And grief. I have one best friend now that I trust with my life and I know she won’t let me down ever. She’s proved it time and time again. And I think she knows she can count on me. Yeah, it might have been great to have a pile of friends and do the whole “Steel Magnolias, or Fried Green Tomatoes” thing when I was younger. But not now. I’m too crabby now. And besides, things affect me deeper now than they did when I was younger. The loss of my parents and my dog Casey almost did me in. It’s probably best that someone like me not have a lot of friends that would up and die on me. I’ll keep this wall around my heart, thank you very much. The people who I care about know that they can ask me for anything. If I can get it, do it, buy it or scrounge it….I will. Long as there’s no strings attached. The kind of strings that bind them to me that is. I hate loss so let’s just skip that shall we?