My GF got me a wonderful bottle of Perry Ellis Portfolio perfume! I haven’t worn perfume in a while, but I really like this scent, so I’ll probably start again. Yay!
Originally this was going to be a ‘friends only’ entry, but I think everyone’s entitled to it.
But perhaps what I’ll remember most from this birthday isn’t the great perfume, the fantastic meal atop the rotating restaurant, the wine or the boring conference. It’s the frank and honest words my GF spoke to me over dinner. I cried, I gnashed my teeth, but in the end, I think I may have finally learned my lesson.
I mentioned to her that I’m starting to get a guilty conscience about the fact that, since I moved to Japan, my email has been piling up (currently 2400 messages in my inbox) and I’ve barely been answering anyone’s emails. We had a long and drawn out discussion, in which she forced me to realize, amongst other things, that I like to cry about things without actually resolving the issue for myself. The real issue here is that — if I’m ignoring those emails, I’m saying I don’t care about people, plain and simple. And if I’m hesitating to answer emails because I can’t solve people’s problems they email me about, big deal. “Tell them you can’t solve their problems for them, that you feel for them, and you wish them better times.” I guess that’s really what it’s about, isn’t it?
I guess this was all precipitated by a realization that I didn’t contact someone I hung out with for a couple of weeks in NYC (before I moved to Japan in 2001) after the terrorist attacks. I received a forwarded copy of an email from her through my former GF — apparently she worked near the WTC (as I had) and was really shaken by the events. However, it seemed like her local friends were taking care of her, and that all was in hand. The thought crossed my mind that I should send her a note and express my symapthies, but I also knew we weren’t that close, and didn’t think twice about not sending something. I had contacted the three people who were left in NYC who I was close friends with — a former coworker, my ex-GF, and a friend from Boston who had moved there shortly after I did — and they were all OK.
Now I get the feeling that she’s slighted by my lack of attention to her, just like many of my friends must be, judging from their emails. Usually it starts with a “Hi Joan, here’s where things are in my life…” note, then is followed by a “Are things OK?” note, then a “Where are you???” email, and finally . . . silence. In my attempts to be the perfect friend to everyone, I end up being a friend to no one. I can’t possibly respond to everyone with the detail level I want — showing empathy on the areas I can, expressing sympathy where I can’t — and have any sort of sanity. There’s just too many people to stay in contact with.
Which is why I started up LiveJournal. It’s sort of a self-service way of keeping in touch with me for those of you I can’t send the heart-felt notes to. But it’s beyond that. I owe all of you I care about notes. Some of you I’ve fallen out of friendships with . . . perhaps it’s time, perhaps our lives have taken us in different paths, perhaps we disagreed on too major an issue. But it doesn’t mean you aren’t known to me, doesn’t mean we can’t still be friendly towards each other. There’s a big difference between the two, because, frankly, I don’t have enough room in my life for 100 friends I share my whole life with. I have room in my life for a few people I share everything with (simply because of TIME, not egotism or elitism) and now have a mechanism to share the highlights with the rest of you. I’m sorry I can’t offer a “premium subscription service” where you can know every detail, where I’m always available to talk to, where I can help bail you out of any problem you run into. I can promise to most of you that, should an emergency arise, I’ll be there to help (like my friend who I talked out of suicide last week). I can promise to lend an ear and read your emails. And, now, I’ll promise to at least send an email saying “I read your note – I’m here to listen,” and, if I have a strong opinion, perhaps “Here’s what I think…” But I can’t be best friends with everyone.
At least now I know that I can’t keep complaining that I don’t have any friends. It’s my fault that I don’t maintain the friendships I care about.
So those of you who are important to me: when I return to Japan, I’m cleaning out the 2400+ emails, sending notes to you, and trying to make amends. Those of you who don’t receive emails (not including the person I mentioned above, by the way) — it’s not that I don’t care. But it’s that I don’t have anything to say, nothing to apologize for, and hope that we are still friendly towards each other. It’s not a “promotion” or “demotion” — it’s a clarification of what’s been true all along. We’ve been acquaintances, we’ve shared experiences. Let’s keep doing that when we want to. But let’s not have unreasonable expectations, either one of us. You can’t expect me to be able to drop everything for you and help you with your problems (I don’t have the energy). I can’t expect you to do the same. But we can keep each other up to date, and perhaps meet up for drinks if I’m in town. Can’t we just leave it at that instead of pushing the envelope unnecessarily?