Although we’re only a month into 2013, if this year has been about anything so far, it’s been about friends. I had been planning to write a post on this; then E. commented on yesterday’s Ojai post and my response to her was so long that I realized I’d already written the post! So, here it is:
E. comments: You and your friends seem like goofballs (in a good way). Looks like you had a great time! I love your zeal for life – it shines through even in pictures. Do you, like, ever get depressed? You always look super cheerful. :)
Thanks, E.! We did genuinely have a blast, and every time I look at these photos (and the scores more that Robin posted on Facebook) it makes me smile.
I think the reason I look so thrilled and happy and light here is that I’ve realized my friends over the years have been able to fulfill me in ways that no guy can. In fact, every guy I’ve ever seriously dated has either dragged me down, dampened my light, made me feel jealous, paranoid or crazy (emotions that were all warranted in the end when evidence was later unearthed!), or tried to get me to be less than myself: more wifey, less desirous of travel, less ambitious about my career, more deferential. In short: less ME.
Maybe I’m dating the wrong guys: that’s certainly what it sounds like, doesn’t it? “You must be dating jerks, Jolie!” But the “good” guys, the sweet guys, the oh-so-darling guys who would just make wonderful husbands and fathers…they always seem in awe of me. They look at me on dates with wide eyes and say, “Wow. You really seem like something. You’ve traveled where? You’ve done what? That sounds great!” And then they tell me about the middling jobs they’re stuck in, making choices out of fear and ambivalence, and I think I’d rather gouge my eyes out than hitch my wagon to one of these dudes who seems afraid of his parents, afraid of his boss, afraid of change, afraid of taking chances and living life well.
No one friend is expected to fulfill all of your needs: you have your crazy friend, your traveling friend, your friend who always worries and tells you when you need to buckle down, your college roommate, your friend with kids, your best guy friend, your book club friend, your best friend from high school, your married friend, etc. And yet your romantic partner is expected to magically fulfill ALL your needs, forever. It seems unrealistic–nay, damn near impossible–but it doesn’t mean I don’t necessarily want it. It just seems that all the millions of compromises I’ve seen people make along the way aren’t *good* for me. They don’t make me better. They don’t equal a life that I’ll look back on and say, “Yes! I’m really glad I went down that path.” I want to be better. I want to be kinder. I want to be more charitable and harder-working and less damn lazy about my writing. But I don’t want to compromise my life for some guy!
One of my main New Years resolutions was to spend more time with my friends–to make them more of a priority. I’ve been trying to ask myself “Who of my friends needs me right now?”, remembering how sad I felt when my mom died and my friends didn’t check in enough to make me feel loved and supported. I’ve also been making more of an effort to talk about them first and ask about what they have going on, rather than just hopping into the conversation with a narcissistic “Me, me, me! Hey, did you hear about me?”
Amazingly, as soon as I put the emphasis on friends, two things happened:
1) I’ve made a ton of new, quality, awesome friends–people who I think could be with me for years to come…and…
2) Guys sense that they now occupy roughly the same priority in my life as cleaning my bathroom (important, but WAY down the list), and they’ve come a-flocking. Maybe it’s the bangs. I don’t know.
In the past, I’ve given away a lot of my power to guys voluntarily (mumbo-jumbo self-help speak, table 1!) and this month I’ve simply stopped caring. I’ve wrenched my power back. Funnily enough, that is apparently catnip. Not so funnily enough, I haven’t met a guy who even remotely impresses me or seems worth my time in a long while–and I’m not convinced there are any on the horizon.
I look back, too, and I realize that I’ve never made it longer in a relationship than four years…and the older I get, the more those relationships tend to end at the six month mark, usually by me. My last relationship barely made it out of the starting gate: it was over in two months flat. Am I even the marrying kind? Am I willing to put my needs on the shelf to do what’s necessary to have a child? Now, for the first time in years, I’m no longer sure.
I want to be realistic and not to live in a damn Disney fantasyland. Every relationship (even your familial ones and your friendships and your work ones) requires compromise–I do realize this. I also know that, if I don’t meet “the right guy,” kids are probably going to seem a hell of a lot less appealing than they would if I were comfortably wrapped up in a wonderful, cozy marriage cocoon, secure that I loved him, secure that he loved me.
But, every once in a while, I do allow myself to indulge the Disney fantasyland. I think about who I’d like to bake into existence out of cake batter and dreams. I wonder what he looks like, where he’s been, what his own hopes and ambitions are. And I thrill to think that maybe, just maybe, there actually is somebody out there for me–who thinks I’m awesome and cool and funny and (yes) crazy, and likes it all enough to hitch his wagon to mine…and I, in turn, respect him and admire him and marvel about how he doesn’t drag me down but inspires me to be better. And then together we make Baby Jolies and I lose a hell of a lot of sleep. But it’s worth it anyway.
So, no, E: I’m not always goofy and cheerful and happy. (Introducing Goth Jolie.)
But recently, yes, I certainly am infinitely happier when I’m with my friends. I love you all!