Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Staying in touch

I have friends from different stages, phases and places. I, however, am not a good friend to have. Not in the sense that I am a ‘bad’ friend; I’m not - I am very loyal and true. I’m just a bit vague about keeping in touch when I don’t see people every day, or at least every week.

It’s easy to blame geography. There are people I like dotted all over Britain, but the expense – and logistics – makes ‘popping’ down to London see a mate for the weekend pretty unrealistic. The older we get, the more complicated and responsible our lives become: frivolity and impulse start to wither.

In the age of mass communication, you wouldn’t think it would be so difficult. We have email, we have mobile phones. Just how hard can it be to make that call, tap in that text or type a couple of lines of “hello, how’s it going?” to people you consider yourself close to? But you leave it, and leave it, and suddenly it’s much more difficult to pick up the threads...

When I was moving house last year, tucked inside an old diary, I found a letter I had written to an Australian friend I used to work with. It was long, enthusiastic and full of gossip about places and people we used to know. I had never posted it. My friend was in the same industry as me and as her surname was spelled in an unusual way, it was easy to Google her and find her email address. I sent an email but didn’t get a reply; I can’t blame her – it was my first contact in more than a decade. When the teacher hands out the friendship report, mine will probably say: “Must try harder” …

Picture: Farewell My Love http://www.wallaceartworks.com/farewell_my_love.htm

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I made a New Year's Resolution a few years back that I would write a letter each week to someone. With a pen and paper, not email. Like so many Resolutions it lasted a few weeks and then came to a grinding halt.

I used to work in a big office, so it was easy to keep in touch with loads of people by popping round to see them, emailing them and so forth.

But in this day and age, with lots of people moving away to work and so on, it is easy to lose touch with people for face-to-face chats and a trip down the pub.

That said I think a lot of people [women especially] think it is possible to be friends with dozens of people at the same time. Being realistic, it is not - far better to have fewer good friends that you look after and nurture than loads of acquaintances who wouldn't chase you up if you moved to a different part of the country.

Many people who have been through a major life trauma report that they can count their genuine friends on the fingers of one hand. Maybe the key is to look after them properly, and the other relationships may start to take care of themselves.

Brom said...

I am similar. Full of good intentions, but life takes over and nothing gets sent. Luckily I have a few good friends who operate under the same principle and so when we do get in contact its business as usual. Hvae not forgotten my "Thogger"! been too busy jet setting!

The Grocer said...

One day I will get round to looking up all the old friends that I keep meaning to look up, perhaps when I retire.

Anonymous said...

But 'grocer', if you wait that long they will turn round and say 'Who are you ?' - you need to keep in touch in the here and now, even if it is just a short note every quarter.

Gill said...

Even when people live in the same village its not always easy to see them, everyone is so busy!

Sometimes you get to be friends with people because you are both at similar stages in your life and then you move on and don't have so much in common anymore, but there's no need to beat yourself up about not being bosom buddies any more.

We all have things we think we 'should' do and then don't do. Maybe we like to punish ourselves?

Eurodog said...

Get a dog. He/she will be your best friend and will love you unconditionally.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Eurodog, I don't lack friends (and I have two cats and a horse) ... it's just sometimes I feel guilty about the people I am no longer in regular contact with.

Gill said...

Anyway Eminem, if your friend in Australia had been that keen to keep in touch she would have sent you a letter- it works both ways!!

Liz said...

I have no problem keeping in touch with email or Messenger - in fact I can be a pest! But letters are different; I don't know why. I've always wanted to write letters but somehow they never happen. Or if they do, they don't get posted.

As gill says, friendships can be seasonal, and that's fine. Life moves on.

Then again, I'm not a very friend-rich person. I have acquaintances rather than friends. I keep me to me.

Karen said...

I think everybody has this problem whether they are male or female.

I sent a shout out text to people I hadn't heard from for a while to catch up. This was most of my phonebook! I was inundated with replies which contained follow up questions - because I had so many at once I was overwhelmed and couldn't be arsed to reply! I've only just finished getting back to everyone - two weeks later!

Most of my friends are pretty good really - we can go a few weeks or months without contact and then one of us will send a text or email and we'll pick up where I left off.

I have an ex-flatmate coming down this weekend, I hope to go up to Scotland to return the trip in the summer and catch up with many other friends north of the border, and hopefully a couple of friends from university will be coming to stay in the summer. That will be especially fantastic if they do as haven't seen them for nearly 2 years!

I Beatrice said...

I Beatrice says (wearing her Granny hat, which is a nice little crocheted beret): Thank you very much indeed, M & M, for all the useful advice you sent me. I will attempt to follow it all up just as soon as I have an hour or two to spare. Meanwhile, my blog page must continue unadorned and largely dysfunctional, I fear.....

And if Rilly Super should just happen to pop in - what became of my comment today then, Rilly? I begin to get the feeling you don't really want grannies cluttering up your site, and am growing paranoid about it... There are laws about that sort of thing you know - it's called ageism. ( And besides, I did so want to apologise publicly for getting Geordie wrong!)

mutterings and meanderings said...

Karen, I always panic when I have people coming to stay but I do usually enjoy it.

I, Beatrice, thanks for popping in. This Blogger thing is quite easy once you get the hang of it - just keep playing around with it!

Karen said...

Well M&M I don't actually know if she's still coming as I haven't heard from her to say when she's arriving. Therefore I haven't touched the spare room which is in a state as we've been stripping the wallpaper. Hopefully she won't be arriving really early tomorrow morning so we have to get up at the crack of dawn to get it ready.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Karen, if she arrives with room in a state, I would just shove her on the sofa (but I'm mean like that!)