Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Are they really friends?

I know this is an odd photo to attach to a post about friendship, but bear with me.

Jessie posted a musing in her blog about the nature of friendship. She realized that the people she calls friends have usually been accumulated via church or work. She felt she was missing friends but was unsure how to find them.

I've been stewing on this topic since she made her comments. It's a gutsy comment to say you don't feel you have enough friends. The ones you do have can feel "Well, I guess I don't matter". I have to say I sort of felt that way after reading her post. But, like I said, I've taken some time to stew about this.

I am not an overtly friendly person by nature. I'm an introvert and we are energized by being away from people. I don't like walking into a situation where I know no one and have to make contact with people. I would rather stand at the wall or over by the punch and people watch. If you come up to me and engage me in conversation, I'll listen and talk and we'll find things we can talk about. But force me to do it and it's excruciatingly difficult.

The friends I have took me awhile to make. I have no friends from grade school, middle school or high school. I thought about going back to my class reunion this past August but, the idea of walking solo into that room of people, many of whom have never left the small-town insular life, filled me with dread. I like to think I am beyond initial judgments. I like to think I give people a chance to show they have a boatload of issues and I should run away. I like to think I've grown up from the small-town everyone's business is my business mentality. Yes, I didn't give these people a chance to prove me wrong, which is my fault. I just couldn't get past the judgmental attitude some of my former classmates had. Oh well, I have 5 years to get myself to the point of wanting to go to the next reunion.

The close friends I have, the ones who know everything, to whom I bare my soul, were made later in life. Our bonds were forged through some painful, some happy, some peaceful and some angry periods in our lives. We just happened to be walking the same road at the same time. There are quite a few I trust to be there, even with simple words of encouragement, when my life appears to be filled with potholes. And this takes me to the photo at the top of the post.

That's Gauss. He plays World of Warcraft as I do. He plays a "tauren", which is an upright walking cow, or, to be anatomically correct, bull since he plays a male character. His character is of the opposite "faction" than my little dwarf. His character is also much better geared than mine.

Our "friendship", if you will developed over a period of months. He runs, on weekends, an event where his faction tries to kill the leaders of my faction. I try to put together a group to stop him. He likes to keep tabs on the number of tries and his successes have been 87 while his failures have been 12. Of those 12, I know I led at least 5 of them, maybe half. I love to try to stop him. It's just a lot of fun for me.

It was after a particularly rewarding stop that he contacted me. We got to talking and I realized that he was well award of my little guild and what we are trying to do within this big, broad game. Since that time, he's been a cheerleader for us, a thorn in our sides, a helpful ear when I'm frustrated and simply what I would call a friend. He has his own blog, the link is to the right, and I'm always very flattered when he posts something about me in his blog. Last weekend was this little comment about my attempts to stop his weekend raids.

I've never met him. I've talked to him a few times on the voice over Internet program I have, but he lives in Toronto, Canada and that's not a place I'm liable to go soon. We may never, ever meet. How can someone like that be counted as a friend?

I have a lot of people like that, people whom I've met through this game. While you can play solo and never talk to another person, I find myself more gregarious when I have the anonymity of the computer screen in front of me. I've met a few of the people I play with, but most are, at best, a face on Facebook or simply a voice rather than a real person. Yet, I call them friends.

I think of my ancestors, traveling from Scotland or Germany on boats, at sea for what was probably 3 months at a time. Chances are they met people who became friends for the duration of the voyage. I don't see those friendships as anything less than what I have established through the Internet, just a different medium. There may have been comments of "I'll stay in touch" as the boat docked and they went into different lines to be processed. Maybe some stayed in touch. I would suspect most friendships forged on the sea dissolved on land simply because there was no social network to find someone who went to the left while you were told to go to the right.

Do I want more friends? Absolutely. I would love to have friends to craft with, play games with, go to movies with, explore the Chicagoland area with, figure out how to fix each others' homes with. I think life conspires against me because joining a group with a like interest generally means dues and I don't have extra money for anything like that. The dating service was supposed to be a way to meet guys, not necessarily for matrimony, but for friendship. You all know how that turned out.

I don't wish to make any of my current friends uncomfortable with the amount of time you can devote to me. That's not the point. This is not a pity post either. If you know me, you know my stance on pity. I merely say that I wish there were more of you in my life. I know exactly where Jessie's root point dwells. I know the feeling. I'd just like someone or a handful of someones to hang out with. They don't have to be tauren. I'd hang out with an orc or, gasp, a human.

Beverage: Dr Pepper


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