Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pulp Fiction Explains Friendship

Received phone calls this morning from two old friends. Both were part of the very small group of 3 that were with us when we got married, all those years ago. One kind of drifted away, and we stopped talking. We’d been extremely close for a period of time, and I suppose it just fizzled out. She’d show up every now and then, then she’d be MIA for months. Eventually she became MIA permanently. Yes, I know the phone works both ways and I could have called her. But I didn’t. Anyway, she called to invite me out for her birthday this weekend. I said I’ve already got plans.

The other is a childhood friend. We’ve been through a ton of shit together. We’ve annulled our friendship many times over the years. I’ve heard you don’t really know your friends until you get into a fight with one. By that measure, we must be great friends. He’s one of the few people I’ve stopped talking to and actually started again. But we were always able to pick up where we left off. Lots of friendships can’t survive that kind of thing. And the other thing that's exceptional about our friendship: we can just sit and be. You know that scene in Pulp Fiction, when Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace are at dinner right after they meet?

Mia: Don't you hate that?
Vincent: What?
Mia: Uncomfortable silences. Why do we feel it's necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable?
Vincent: I don't know. That's a good question.
Mia: That's when you know you've found somebody special. When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence.

(Long before we got married, my husband and I spent many hours just sitting together, doing nothing, talking about nothing, just enjoying being in the same space. It's one reason I know I married the right person.)

So, this morning I heard from two old friends, both unexpected calls. The major difference was in my reaction to the phone calls. In the first, I was pretty quiet, made polite inquiries as to the health of her family. In the second, instead of being guarded and wondering how long it had been since I’d talked to this person and why they were calling now, I said, “Hey, I’ve missed you! Whatcha doin?”

The fragility of friendship has always interested me. You don’t always need a big reason to stop being friends with someone. Sometimes, you need a big reason to remain friends. And when it comes down to that, I’d say your friendship has just expired.


Monique said...

Your right friendships expire when you need a big reason to remain friends. I had to ponder for a milisecond about that statement but it makes total sense to me. I too have became re-accquainted with old friends and I always wonder why we strayed away. I think the female species are too needy and often times expire over trivial reasons. Ya think?!

Midwest Mommy said...

So true. My best friend from high school and I took a long break during our college years. All throughout high school we were best friends and we dated two guys who were best friends. She married hers I kicked mine to the curb. It was too strange for her boyfriend to hang out with Hubby because I had broken up with his best friend (does that make sense?). Anyways, they finally realized after quite a few years my ex is a loser and now they want to hang out more. We are back to hanging out here and there but I still feel guarded. Wish it could be different.

Julie Vaicius said...

I have had that exact same experience in my old relationships. Sometimes it just doesnt feel natural to continue to push a friendship. Interesting.

Kelly David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kelly said...

I have just been pondering this very subject. I have this "friendship" that I don't have any reason to be a part of except maybe habit. She just moved and I feel a huge relief. Maybe the habit will finally just die. But then there are the people I put forth effort to stay in touch with because it's worthwhile.
And you are right about a fight testing the friendship. SO true.
BTW...the Pulp Fiction reference is what made me click over here. That movie is full of nuggets of wisdom.

(Sorry about that last comment...I was logged in as my husband...)

carrie said...

this is so true. I've been thinking about that kind of thing a lot lately since there are a couple of people that I don't live near any longer who keep trying to get together with me. I hate to sound mean, but I just don't have any desire to have a "half-assed" relationship with people when I really need to focus on some friendships that are closer to me right now.

You know?

Colleen said...

Since I was the one that moved far from everyone else, I tried very hard to keep in touch with my friends...I'd call, email, letters, yet rarely, if ever, hear back. Broke my heart since it wasn't like I was just trying to keep up with one friend, but with all my friends. The effort was exhausting, especially when it seemed no one could be bothered with me. It used to be that when one of them called me back, I was so giddy and I'd feel so good being able to talk to them, so starved to hear of their lives, to share mine. Then I wouldn't hear from them and they wouldn't return my calls. I'd rationalize that they had work, kids, etc. but it still stung. I finally got frustrated and fed up and have that same, cool, polite tone you had with your friend when I get the occassional call. Girls seem to be worst about this.

Red Lotus Mama said...

Great insight! I am an only child and have never had an issue of being alone. I am not good at phone calls. And, I really can only concentrate on one friend at a time. But, the friends I do have I am extremely loyal to. They are the kinds of friends I might not talk to for a month, but when we do it is like no time has passed. Recently, a friend I had in 7th grade contacted me out of the blue. We have been emailing for a few weeks now. Her life has taken a very different path from mine. But, what is interesting is that she remembered our friendship after all this time. Friendship is an amazing thing ... especially between women.