Sunday, June 6, 2010

Relationships

Yesterday was a pretty long day. I went to a meeting, saw my sponsor and got a hug, took myself to lunch and then went to Andrew's graduation. It was interminably long, but mostly not terrible. When his name was announced and he got is diploma, a fair number of us cheered and that was nice. Afterwards, friends and advisers were met, dinner reservations made and met, and chat of politics, feminism, unions and music from the 1960s to 1980s was discussed. Andrew was part mortified that I could banter so with his friends and part relieved, I think. I was able to provide a distraction so that he was not 100% of the focus of every one's attention, and I think he was very grateful.

A friend later described me as "a COA parent" and that threw me a bit.

To Andrew, I am one of his "old" friends, which means that I am a friend of his who is old, not that we've known and liked each other a long time.

Certainly, I am old enough to be Andrew's mother, at least chronologically. He is 22. I am 44. Yes, I could have been his parent. Only our friendship does not feel like that kind of parent-offspring relationship, at least not any that I have seen or experienced. I don't think I fit in the "favorite auntie" kind of category, either. Andrew is cool. We hang out. I don't ask anything of him beyond that he eat now and then when I make food, and that he not trash my place and not clean it up. I tell stories about the dark ages (1980s and 90s) of lgbt politics and he looks at me like I am a museum exhibit, and then tells me of queer youth street theater troupes in Boston and Los Angeles. We have very different lives.

He works with autistic children and I build stuff. I think we both look at each other's work and marvel, but we don't get too freaked out about it. He can do stuff I can't. I can do stuff he can't. That's fair.

I guess I play some sort of mentor role, but that seems odd, too. I don't think he really needs a mentor, so I try not to bury him with advice and direction. I offer what I think and know that he can (and will) take it or leave it as he sees fit. I don't get too terribly bent when he ignores my wisdom. Sometimes it's wisdom, after all, and sometimes it's not. And he's a way better judge of that then I tend to be.

So how is it that I felt a kind of parental pride when I heard his name announced and saw him walk across the stage to get his degree? I don't know. Honestly, I have only known Andrew for less than a year. We both worked on the No On 1 campaign, but barely saw each other then. We joined the church together in January. I guess that's when our independent friendship began. I think that was it. I was the 12-step person who wasn't a jerk to him. And the gray-haired person who didn't try to run his world.

True, I watch in exasperation some days as he spins with the drama and angst that I had at that age, but I don't take it personally. I know that it's part of his process and that he'll get through it. He complied, analyzed and presented a crapton of data for his final project. He can do the big things. And he can help an autistic child use the bathroom without getting skeeved out about it. That's pretty amazing.

So where am I in all this? I have no idea. I guess part of my brain wants to put me in a box, to define who and what I am, and to define this friendship in terms that others will be able to recognize. I think part of me is just still amazed that I know how to have friends. I didn't, for a long time. I did not have the social skills to know how to give and take, to not bully, to not manipulate, to not be passive-aggressive, to allow others the flexibility that I desired. I take up a lot of space in a room. I know that. I am a powerhouse of energy and noise and opinion and sarcasm, and not everyone can handle that or enjoy it. Some of it is the leftover stuff from when I was raised by wolves, but some of it, I must say, is me and probably here to stay, at least to some degree. I know that not everybody will like me, not everybody will be able to handle my energy level, and not everybody gets my sarcasm. I will hurt and insult people unintentionally, and they will leave. I know this and try to temper my words, but sometimes I miss. So, I am pleased when someone either sees past that stuff or else decides it's something they can work with to be my friend.

There was a time break here and I entirely lost my train of thought, so I am going to post this as is and try to be intelligent again tomorrow.


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

A vintage Dawn post.--terrific post. Speaking as one of your many friends, you ain't thatoff-putting... xo Deb

msladydeborah said...

Age is never the factor that determines friendship. I have friends who are younger and older than me. I value what they contribute in my life.

It sounds like you two gel in your own way. Celebrate that and enjoy the journey. Life is short and it is meant to be filled with enjoyment!

Andy said...

you were pretty damn parent-y at walmart today.

Just sayin'

You're pretty cool yourself.

A P said...

What? You're not perfect? ;)

It is odd to get to this point in our lives, look around and say, "Jeez, where did ALL OF THESE FRIENDS come from???" I know the feeling myself all too well. Something changed along the lines; we went from being the loner to being someone folks reach out to- it's both cool and unnerving to realize that and know our opinions have some measure of value besides to ourselves.

We've become indeed a family that Life was kind enough to give us...

Miss Trudy said...

I don't know where, exactly, you are in your friendship with Andrew, but why try to pinpoint it? It is a beautiful friendship. He is lucky to have you as your friend, and vice-versa. Enjoy! ;o)