Tuesday, August 14, 2007

You Name It


I knew my mother was dying when she told me that she'd read somewhere that one could make a family out of one's friends, that it was the modern thing going and then handed me a book of my baby pictures. My immediate family is small, extended almost non-existent given their collective propensity for early death, and I wasn't married, didn't have any children, so I knew my mother felt she really had to grasp at straws -- -she was always more of a blood person. Didn't really trust outsiders, although she had oodles of close friends herself. My friendships were my primary relationships and a lot of my friends were connected in a large unit that Hank referred to ironically enough as "The Family." He coined this term because someone in the group was always upset with someone else, and he thought perhaps we could get group rates on therapy. Soon enough, he was hosting kung fu night with many of my exes, another peculiar collection of folks that decided that hanging out together and watching people beat the shit out of each other might be fun. I'm guessing it was since I was never ever invited. Such dramatics, such secrecy!

But I digress. I saw many old friends this weekend, thought about all the things we'd been through together, the weddings, divorces, funerals. Thought about how lucky I am to have never valued romantic love over friendship, not really, because what good is dating if you don't have your friends with whom you can tell every excruciating detail? These phone calls resemble the passion that a rabbinical scholar serves for particularly difficult parts of the Torah -- And then he said, I'll see you later. Do you think that means I should call him or wait until he calls me? What do you think later means? This week or next? You get the idea. Only a close dear friend could endure these talks. If this energy could be harnessed, we could all study tort law or learn to macrame. But instead we are friends to others, one of the highest callings ever. Once my friend Angela and I were waiting at the terminal for her plane to board (pre 9/11), and talking about depression and low self-esteem, bad men, you name it, and a man came and sat down in front of us, a very large man with his pants hanging halfway down his substantial rear end. Way beyond plumber's butt, this had gone into a realm all its own, and we started to giggle since he seemed so happy and relaxed. "He does not have self-esteem issues," Angela said. We laughed and laughed and whenever I'm feeling blue, I think of the man with his pants at half-mast, think of us not taking ourselves so seriously anymore and if that's not the gift of true friendship, I don't know what is.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The best mirror is an old friend." George Herbert

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: Dog Days Mark Doty

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Birthday to my dearest Angela! I will be posting some birthday pictures of all of us at the Chant show this weekend.

7 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Good post. Friendship as the highest calling is a good point, and I'd not thought of it in that way.

the walking man said...

Family aren't necessarily friends but friends come in all flavors and varieties with differing levels of Phileo attached to them.

Not particularly thinking of my siblings as friends; I look to the other people in my life for that familial feeling.

Now you have posted this short essay and it makes me think of just how many actual people in my face world do I think of as being in that deepest part, that highest calling and I realize that there are not too many.

By choice or design I do not know, nor do I particularly care, because it is those few that I call friends that are my family. Them of humanity that I cherish above all else are more precious to me than anything except that Spirit which brought them into my life and I into theirs. And it is a true thing, to be a friend is one of the highest callings one person can give as a gift to another.

This was a lesson hard learned for me, but one I am happy that you expressed so eloquently.

Now about that guy with the big butt crack...was his underwear (if he had any on) at least clean looking?

Peace

mark

eric1313 said...

If you don't have family, you have nothing. It's too much to hope and wait for a friend who will be that good to you.

Thanks for sharing your family with us.

You still are nominated for the trifecta, I just didn't write you up for it so it wouldn't sit vacant. I still linked you in my new post--hope you get some more traffic. I used that Che Guevara poem and wrote an interesting little prose peice you would be proud of.

Peace out
friend

Nick said...

I love how you write, I went back and read a few posts all lovely.

If you don't mind let me know what you think of my writing, honesty please, I have been writing for years but am new to sharing it.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Michelle,
I call what you witnessed "The Fat Dumb and Happy" Theory. Not a care in the world. I envy folks like that.

Dr. Jennifer Melfi said...

"Group rates on therapy." Priceless.

The I-man said...

I'll be back!!!!