This morning, one of my oldest, dearest friends is taking her daughter in for another round of surgery. Little Lia just turned one. Her diaphragm is half paralyzed, she has a compromised immune system, and yet, miracle, by miracle, day after day, she's one now. I'm staring out my back window into the gray afternoon, thinking about her.
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It's on days like this that I realize how much I suck at being a friend. Yes, I'm entertaining. I can tell stories and jokes, and be interesting. Sympathy? Fail. Knowing what to say? Fail. Knowing when to shut up? Well, you get the picture.
I'm not even entirely sure how to be friends with someone. All my efforts seem to have the reverse effect — and the people I am friends with, seem to be so in spite of me. I remember Deborah asking me how one becomes friends a while back, and I really didn't have a good answer. She also told me a tale of her, back in junior high or high school, having decided to be friends with someone... by following them around until they gave in and were friends back! Sure, it's not the greatest method, but then... what is?
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A number of years ago, I used to get comments on my annual reviews at work that I was "prickly." I've never completely figured this out. I'm aware of one co-worker who is utterly terrified of me. Nonsense. I'm a big teddy bear. (Who, granted, wears black, rides a motorcycle, and shaves once a week whether he needs it or not. Perhaps her mother warned her about such guys.) But it's not the first time I've gotten comments like that. One friend in high school used to tell me that all I had to do was walk into the room to weird people out. How can I be friends with you if I'm somehow broadcasting from across the room that I won't? It'd be nice to know what the heck I'm doing, so that I can stop doing it.
I count myself amazed and fortunate for the friends I do have. They're amazing people. all of them. It still leaves me wondering, though.
How do you become friends with someone?