Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Best Friends: Part 2

We escalated and argued and as much as we gushed and giggled. We were passionate, and that passion came in the form of disagreement as well as affection. It was not unusual for verbal fireworks to flare without warning, brilliant in their colors and intensity, thundering overhead, emotional kaleidoscopes bursting and poppping, often about something and just as often about nothing. Still, for a long time each of us was quick to apologize, quick to reassure, quick to laugh again.
One day, in mock exasperation about something now long forgotten, I told her, “You know, you should be good to me, because best friends don't grow on trees."
"Yes, they do," she laughed. Within a day I had received her illustrated rendition of a Best Friend Tree. I cannot show you this drawing because even though I have it to share, it is not mine to share. But I will describe it for you. Doodled into life through a characteristic one dollar black pen, drawn onto 4 by 6 inch card stock, it began as a moleskine illustration of two women, both looking incredulous and impish, in their celestial pajamas, one pointing upward as if to prove a point; the other, her hands on her head in mock surprise. There is a tree between them, drawn in steady lines and strokes, large but not so much so that it could not be climbed.
But this is not a tree to climb and this is not just any tree by any standard, because between and among its leaves there are a half dozen faces growing right out of its branches.
“See,” she gloated, “I told you best friends can grow on trees.”
I don’t remember if I wrote a poem about best friends before or after I saw her lovely silly illustration. I do remember that at first I wrote 12 stanzas but when she asked for one more, a baker’s dozen, I was happy to oblige. We were collaborating, we two, and it felt wonderful.
Best Friends

1. They grow in the garden
Where forget-me-nots remember

2. They grow around two hearts
Willing to be tamed

3. They grow toward the sun
Pouring light in quiet corners

4. They grow under unspoken secrets
Finally whispered out loud

5. They grow on top of trouble--
An umbrella in the wind

6. They grow beside what’s possible
Rallying and inching it forward

7. They grow in special moments
Roots that aren't overturned

8. They grow around tender wounds
Healing tears on the horizon

9. They might even grow apart
But even then they grow together

10. They grow through the thickets of laughter
And the blossoms of being known

11. They grow over time
And in the flash of a moment

12. They even grow in darkness,
When it's all you can see

13. Best friends grow ever strong and forever tight
But they most assuredly do not grow on trees.
Different cultures, different politics, different life styles, different geography, different experiences, different perceptions, different needs. We were two women who found each other one August day with no idea then that in that instant everything would be changed, at least for one of us; everything would be formed and reformed into colors and words that nourished and exalted but could not sustain. Every day, for hours, we talked and walked into the night, shared our silly secrets and haunting hopes, and we laughed together like there was no tomorrow. But there was one problem, and it never went away.

Very near the end, she told me the problem was that I was selfish and she was callous. Weeks or months or years from now, I will understand more, and when I do it may be that she was right about that.


  1. "Very near the end, she told me the problem was that I was selfish and she was callous."

    I don't like it that that she used such adjectives in an all or nothing manner. That said, when I have analyzed friendships that went wrong, I always found that the person told me well in advance exactly what he or she would someday do (seeing my own part in things is usually harder). For example, the friend who told me that she was incapable of sustaining long term friendships (but wanted my help in learning how) couldn't sustain a long term friendship. The person who described friendship as like two quantities that were constantly being weighed on a scale left after my last surgery because it had, in his mind, reduced the "weight" of my worth. If we listen, nothing ever comes as a surprise.

    Why haven't you visited my blog lately? I always look forward to you comments, and I miss you when you don't come round.

  2. I remember that drawing, of course, it is lodged somewhere in my memory.

    I have a retorical question.
    If your best friend is selfish, she remains your best friend, not?

    Another one: am I perfect?

  3. "Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Others stay awhile, make footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same."


  4. friendship is so interesting. In my life, friends seem to do as they will and I have had several different friends tell me they couldnt be friends with me anymore. Friend A) said it and left so I couldnt ask any questions. Years later though we met again and became friends again until she determined, again that being friends with me was too much, yet I understand. Friend B said she couldnt be friends anymore because I was always giving her things and writing notes and so forth. I was quite sad about it as I like her so much.

    I dont get it all. But I guess I figure it's maybe not necessary to understand. Just part of the flow of life and I dont take it very personally.although I would still like to be friends with these women. I am enjoying your story about friendship.

  5. "It was not unusual for verbal fireworks to flare without warning"

    Ah, do you ever look back and think, 'Oh, my, red flag there.

    I agree with Snowbrush - people often tell youus fairly directly who they are or how they will act nd we slough it off. I was told by a certian someone that he was selfish and that he felt you were allowed to rescind anything said or promise made at any moment. I could NOT hear it.

  6. I'm just offering hugs today.
    Big, fat, sincere hugs.

    That's all I have today.


  7. HUGGING the stuffing out of you.

    xoxox Sonia

  8. I love that poem, number one is very beautiful!

  9. I'm with lolo, I have free hugs today :-). xoxo

  10. snowbrush, well! what you have written here is as true and helpful to me as any single word of advice could possibly be. thank you, snowbrush. you've hit the proverbial nail on the head, because it helps to know i was a poor listener versus a pathetic fool. p.s. i've just come from your blog. i'll do better, i promise. xo

    pieterbie, ah, you remember. i'm not surprised. do you mean to say that if both people are selfish then they would still be best friends? lord, i have no idea, but i doubt it... xo

    miladysa, damn....

    suki, unrequited friendship, like unfufilled love, hurts. i'm very sorry you have been hurt, as i know you have alot to give.you deserve good friends, no doubt. xo

    cs, "i could not hear it". if that is the case, and it seems that's at least some of it, the fault is mine. again, poor listening skills, better than being a total
    a---. xo

    lolo, aaaawwwwwww,i'm hugging you so tight. and i'm murdering all mosquitos on your behalf. xoxo

    sonia my dear friend, likewise. xo

    thank you sag. it's nice to see you here.

    annie, i'll take 10. :)

  11. Beautiful poem kj.

    I agree with Snowbrush - those all or nothing adjectives don't leave a lot of room. I just can't imagine you being those things - you are so very thoughtful.

    Thank you for going in to bat for me on my blog...I just loved that. It absolutely made my day!

    Lots of love xoxo

  12. this post just made me feel sad all over kj. with memories of broken friendships and broken love. the person who said 'sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me' was talking pure shit! i have suffered both kinds of abuse, and i know the physical pain does heal, but those words remain lodged deep in your brain and heart forever.
    i could write a book on this subject, but i will say the following:
    *this is the reason i don't have friends anymore, i choose not to be hurt.
    *i am a 'runner'...if i feel i am going to be hurt or want to hurt someone, i leave.
    *i am my own best friend,, i love myself, i say all the right things to me and that is all i need, others just hurt me mostly.
    *i have buried my pains and that's where they stay, but today i can feel them again
    love you, feel sad for you that you are still struggling to move forward from all this pain.

  13. I'm going with the hugs - but of course have also been hurt this way. One friend just stopped talking to me one day over what he imagined was a overt slight, and to me was a very minor deal (I was 5 minutes late to a lunch date). Worst was that I was not allowed to see his 2 year old anymore, who I had fallen in love with. I was completely heartbroken and completely devastated for months. To this day, it brings tears to my eyes - more about the little girl than him. I never, never understood how someone could be "family" one day and cut ties the next day. Now of course I also know that I am better off not having someone in my life who could do this, but at the time...and for years...this was very very awful for me.
    KJ - I am posting this as anonymous as I just noticed that my niece has signed on as her name and I have no idea how to change it in the middle of a comment. So - it's me...Mim...and yes...am enjoying the family much but am having difficulty with my computer being taken over; and my bathroom; and all extra beds....but we are having fun.

  14. Interesting posts about friendship Kj!
    Also loved to read all the comments because I can learn from them.
    I just had an issue with a friend and I deliberately lost contact with her. I felt hurt and disapointed and I drew back in my shell.....
    But she called a few times , spoke in my anwsering machine, talked to my DH (as I were not home) and she mailed me.
    So I wrote her back and let's see if we can restore what was damaged.
    We have contact again.
    When I am friends with someone I try to stay friends.
    But I guess I have my limits too, I haven't found them yet, because no one has crossed them yet.
    For me friendship is like a train, sometimes people hop on and they hop off later, chosing another path but the doors of the train always open for friends, so they can always hop on again.
    I guess I left my friend at a station, but she mannaged to catch up and found the train again................

    PS: I made a post for Blogland Lane but now I need instructions to get it , but I don't know Debra's email adres. Maybe you can send it to me?


  15. kate, hahahaha! you know i wanted to say more than i did! you're right about those all or nothing adjectives, i should have known, i probably did know things were too black and white. i guess i just decided love was enough, and even now, i wish it had been.

    walking man, mwah!

    soulbrush, ah, but you do have friends. i know that because i see how you are adored here in the blogs. but i know what you mean and i'm sorry you've been hurt. myself, i can't give up on love. i just can't. i hope i will be slower in committing in the future, i hope i will heed snowbrush's wisdom about people telling you in advance what and what not to expect from them. but you know, i'd almost rather keep loving someone who entered my inner world. that's my challenge ahead. soulbrush, as good a friend as you are to yourself, i hope you might try again if and when a good person comes along and provided you, like me, take your time. xoxo

  16. mim, i did not expect this story of mine to elicit so many similiar stories. i don't wish anyone the pain of betrayal i have felt, but it's comforting to know others have been through this. your comment about how this could happen to someone who is family really touched a nerve, mim. that is how i feel, and it's possible i will never understand. ps patience, i feel for you and your disruption. it's hard! xoxo

    marianne, what a great attitude you have. i am going to think more about your thoughts on this. i know people can come and go, but some people i want to stay on my train, and i on theirs. good for your friend for making it clear to you that you matter to her.
    ps if you go to the blogland lane blog (click on the logo from my blog) you'll find step by step instructions. i think the # you want is fine but i'll check to be sure. xoxox

  17. In many ways friends are more special than family-there is no social obligation to be friends, just a mutal desire.

  18. If people don't want to be on the train just let them go, maybe they embark later again?
    Yes, good she made it clear our friendship was important and I explained why I was disapointed so the air is clear again.
    All on board WHOO WHOO!

    I read the intructions but I still need the intruction from Debra to get on the blog directly so I can post.
    Can you help me?

  19. Hi,KJ....I sure hope you feel better soon. I don't think it is unusual in people's lives to lose good friends for one reason or another...but that does not make it any easier either. I could name two or three right off the top of my hat. My best friend now...is the opposite spectrum politically but in every other way we are like two peas in a pod. We still are best friends....even though we lunch and argue about politics all of the time. Sometimes I wonder if it will last. I tend to think it will, though....I think the older we get these things are easier.

  20. What I mean KJ, is that nobody is perfect.
    I'm not perfect, but my wife and kids love me and so do my friends.

    They are not perfect, but I love them as well.

    If my best friend is selfish, well then my best friend is selfish.
    But I choose that he or she remains my best friend.

  21. I don't think it is poor listening skills at all - it is simply that it's hard to set aside the good you are also seeing in that moment to listen for truths that are there. And anyway, is that what we'd want - to become cyncis sifting words for signs of betrayal? I don't want that for me.

  22. debra kay, i agree. xo

    marianne, i love this image of the train and it will help me now and ahead. thank you. i am the last person to help you technically, but debra kay can and will. she has made things so much easier for us all to move into blogland land and start posting. ps can't wait to see you there. xo

    sully, you have a nice and easy way of seeing this. peas in a pod is a good and special thing, hold on to it. i can tell you will!

  23. oh peter, of course you are right and you said this so damn well.

    cs, you are right too, but for me in the future, if someone says they do not want what i want or they think my feelings are foolish, i want to hear that. i've been too prone to magical thinking.