25 February 2019

Redwood


I'm with a friend at our local dive bar. One of the unexpected consequences of living in multiple places is that it becomes more difficult to characterize friendships. The person who I consider my best friend is on the other side of the country. This friend that I'm at the bar with, though, is at the time of this story, my Seattle best friend. Let's call him that.

We're pretty deep into a night of drinking and I confront him about something. He and another good friend were out of town for Christmas. I had put together an early Christmas gathering. I held at a common space at another friend's apartment building. I timed it so both could go. My Seattle best friend didn't go. I was surprised that he didn't show up.

"I was only a maybe on Facebook," he says. I slur something about having timed and planned the event particularly for him and our other friend. He says something about not particularly caring for some of the people in attendance, but then adds something, "If you had told me that you had wanted and expected me to be there, I would have gone."

This blows my mind. "You mean I can do that?" I ask, bewildered. This feels like a superpower that I did not know I could wield. I'm not really inclined to think I can make unadorned statements about what I want my friends to do. This feels weird—too familiar for a friendship, even a close one. Apparently, this is ok. He confirms it. This feels profound.

This conversation rattles around in my head for years. Then one day, I think of a rebuttal. Shouldn't it be implicit in the invitation that his presence is important? Is that why it feels weird to have to make a particularly mention of how important it is? Why does it need to be underscored?

I think that reaction is bullshit, upon further thought. It has to better to risk the confrontation of demanding things in the present than be disappointed in the future when the want hidden in the message is lost. I wouldn't know though. As profound as it felt at the time, it's clearly something I fail to act on, again, and again, and again.

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