more thoughts about friendship

 

“yeah, you go deep all quick and stuff, but it’s not really the same as getting to know someone over time and having the opportunity for them to disappoint you.”

maybe 2-3 years is the sweet time, the honeymoon phase, of a friendship. [sidenote: did you know that “honeymoon” in Spanish is, quite literally, “luna de miel”? being a nonnative (read: noob) speaker of a language has these perks, of your ears perking up at the sounds and literal meanings of words — of your mind immediately envisioning a full, yellow moon of comb, dripping with honey at the sound of “luna de miel” that “honeymoon” simply does not conjure up because you’ve become desensitized to the cuteness of that word, in its naked self, stripped of all its contextual trappings. if I were talented at illustrating, at this moment, I would try to draw a naked-in-a-cute-way WORD. someone do this for me.]

and after this period, chara said, you start to come to a period of conflict. 

-because you start getting to know a person better, in all their good sides and their bad ones?- I proffered.

well yes, that, but what I wanted to say was that after this period, you come to a place where you have certain expectations of a friendship of [however many] years and so does that other person. and more often than not, these expectations will not match up perfectly. at least that’s what I can deduce the reason to be; that’s the overarching umbrella reason for conflict in my long-term friendships: mismatched expectations. do you know about the [example of just this thing] of second year?

-this…makes sense. buhcause, [offers example of just this thing] that happened my first year!

-and, and, and I wonder if all relationships are like this. but other kinds of relationships have more rules decided by society on how they “should” sorta be. take romantic relationships, for example. society, more or less, dictates certain expectations for a romantic relationship. like, an average healthy, happy couple should probably talk to each other [some range of] times per week. and you should probably see each other [some range of] times per week, or per month, or whatever. and for anniversaries, you should probably do [whatever kind of thing] to celebrate. you know? like, there are certain EXPECTATIONS for a romantic relationship, predetermined, that are just not so for friendships. expectations for friendships can be wildly varying, and that’s where the trouble comes in, because you’re not really sure where that person could be coming from, in terms of what they are expecting from this friendship with you. people love and feel loved in different ways. people are and inspire different kinds of thoughts and feelings that makes this whole thing of RELATINGships really very complicated. it’s like a beautiful thing, too, though, that it’s this freeform, freewilly kind of substance, malleable and putty-like in your collective four hands (or six or eight or seven).

yeah! exactly. basically, I think it’s inevitable that you’re going to disappoint and be disappointed by these mismatched expectations. 

-but see? I haven’t really. it’s only been the peachy, moon-of-honey years of friendships (mmm peach + honey) that I’ve lived. I feel sort of stunted in this. but also…glad that I get to learn this in theory before mucking it completely up in practice. I feel much better equipped for this.

what you have to do is decide that a relationship with that person is worth pushing through that disappointment and make it work. there are gonna be sad moments; there are different kinds of friends for different portions of you and portions of your life. and that’s okay. 

-friendship is hard!! what the heck.

those spheres of ease

there are spheres of life in which you feel at ease, totally in your own skin, and open to newness because you’re okay with all the right-now atoms in your current atmosphere. and then there is everything else, which is the majority of life. at least for me, right now.

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love in a tiny kiwi. a lovely keewee.

but those spheres, they are so good. and they exist in the weirdest, randomest places. walking the halls at work for a clear-the-head break, arms a-swinging like the Cake song and teef a-smiling at the unknown peoples because they’re unknown to me; there’s no risk (there’s freedom in smiling at strangers). sweatpants life, veg-ing out at homehome, visiting for the weekend having brought real clothes but teebee.H. not needing them at all, all weekend long. blog mode at a cafe where the temperature is not too cold not too warm just right and zoning in on not to cold not to warm just the right words even though there are other, Real things to be done, and feeling so accomplished at the end of the thought train, at the bottom of the latte cup, zero of the said Real things having been accomplished. phone conversations with really helpful customer service repuhresentatives, knowing what you mean by your uncertain blabbering because they’re just that experienced in customer blabber-needs. spending way too many minutes perusing all the things I won’t buy up and down the aisles of the korean grocery store where I buy my weekly kale because produce is freshest there (huzzah for kale, huzzah for nova groceries).

and running into my mom’s friendladies and saying hello, no hesitation, because I feel able and natural. and getting impromptu shares of life wisdom from an older and wiser soul who’s brimming with it, only needing to be tapped, to be asked.

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haaappyyyyy biiirrtthhhdayyyyy too meeeeee

but honestly, it’s not even the content of such conversations — rather the context. what makes these moments possible. that sphere of ease. that comfortsphere. where you’re open to impromptu conversations with acquaintances that aren’t even yours, but your mom’s. knowing full, knowing well — smalltalk is not your strongsuit. going out of your way uncalculatedly to call out to people and open up your bubble to touch theirs, connecting for a moment or two.

what is it that creates these spheres of possibility? I have a feeling it’s something really specific: two heaping cups of really good nights’ sleeps. a liter of contented conversation stores. a mindful of vocab in that (un)foreign language you’re delighted to be discovering, again. three generous drizzles of chocolate frosting over that birthday cake baked at 375, for-ty8 minutes. those two bunches of bananas someone placed in the back of your car so you wouldn’t even have a chance to refuse them when offered. an extra day of rest from the running schedule, because your body — and your mind — needed it though you weren’t even clever enough to know it until you’d had it. eighty-three miles of road driven, harmonizing all the way with singers on your iPod loop loop looping all these years you never updated your music stores.

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happpyyy biiiiiirthhhhdayyyyyy! tooo!!! meeee!

 

how interesting to organize the experience of Life this way — it’s just a practice in negotiating these spheres and the rest. just a long series of navigations in between, from circle to amorphous circle. and the resolutions, the lessons, are to:

  1. expand these comfortspheres, each and all, until they’re the majority and the “restofit,” the exceptions.
  2. find out other people’s spheres of ease and discover them in living in theirs. observe. appreciate. smile aloud, teef and all.
  3. test and exactify that recipe for sphere success — so you can do numbers 1 and 2 better and better. this will probably take some more days off from the relentless schedule of working out and making lunch salads because you’re still only a young padawan (what even is a padawan? why do I use these words I don’t really know?), the greenest grasshopper, and apparently you can’t run and think at the same time. at least not to the same level of intensity. one’s gotta give way to the other.
    1. get better at running, so you can think more.
    2. get better at thinking, so you can run more.

wow. lots to do here. guess I better go get some more sleeps to get started.

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candid.
but this. yeah this. this is life-giving to me.

layers

By the end of my life, I want to have experienced all the layers of love that my circumstances will have offered me.

Mads: All the layers of romantic love, yes, but like, all the layers of all the other kinds, too. Wow. Can you imagine what kind of life you would be able to lead if your goal, each day, was to experience more layers of loves? To give, to receive, to witness, to empower others to do…all kinds of layers, of all kinds of loves! Marriage love and parent love and acceptance love and covering love. And tucking-into-bed love and you-can-shower-first love and let-me-rub-your-tired-feet love and here’s-some-soup! love and dearly-beloved-we-are-here-to-say-our-goodbyes love.

Meesh: Yeah! I mean, the Bible is full of commandments to love one another, honor one another, mhmm!

It is a good thing you are here, Meesh, to tap my path straight and remind me of the purpose of it all. I can wander into lalalayerland far and wide, if left to my own devices. Thanks for remembrin’ us about the Bible. About our God. And of His plans and purposes and layers of love for us. Without that, it’s just indulgent philosophizing.

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the Monday blahs

I LIKE my job, I really do. If ya let me, I’ll gush on. And I LIKE my company. It’s an inspiring place. There are good things happening here. It’s easy to get sparkly-eyed about and at a place that seeks to make society better through the unlikeliest means of “Good,” ever. Cause the moneyz makes it hard to be ethical sometimes, you know?

Why is it, then, that I can’t shake this inexplicable feeling of uselessness as I sit and listen to the work chatter — discussing that “funny little issue” with the “blah-dy blah-dy app” that’s causing stakeholders to “blah blah-la” for the “blah-something program blah”?

Sometimes it all seems to insignificantly complicated and complicatedly insignificant. I know, I know, specialization is all in the details, but I guess I really am a broad-picture thinker. It’s hard for me not to put my discontentment frown on, eyes glazed over, all contemplative about The State of Modern Man And All when I hear conversations about the tiniest little detail about these outermost layers of the infinity of entanglement we have Civilizationed ourselves into. Out of?

And the sad, final punch is that I can’t even put these feelings to words, phrases, blog posts that make any sense at all.

—-ed. 11/17/14 12:20pm—-

Okay, but let’s set the record straight. All the blah blahs aside, I still am daily inspired by this place

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that celebrates National Talk Like a Pirate Day with a watermelon pirate ship at the coffee bar.
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with teammates that bring me assorted snacks from their Snack and Learns, cause they “didn’t know which one you liked”
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and days of post-Halloween candy showing up in the common area, of which I may or may not have stashed bags of sour patches, of which I may or may not be snacking RIGHT NOW. maybe. and peppers.
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with cupcake tantrums that are appeased by the department head with swift, post-department meeting deliveries to the pod
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and the tear-inducingly inspiring mission statement, standing proud and shiny at the entrance of Every Day and Normal.
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and work friends who are now also selfie friends. oooh la!

Praise God for jobs…for cars…for recovering from indigestion…and for all the other little, medium, big blessings of Life Right Now. Seriously.

 

smiling is as smiling does

The soft, yellow light of the concert stage graces his face and he is at once softened and sharpened, the shades and shadows of his face kinder and clearer for the fans carefully drawing them into their memories below. Mental notes are scribbled; the curve of his nose carefully engraved, next to the way his fingers wrap around the neck of the guitar in the collective archive of memories floating above the crowd. They’re swaying, inching imperceptibly closer, moths toward the irresistible flame of talent and chest-ringing acoustics. And the pure joy. It’s almost palpable in the air he takes in and breathes back out, the great delight he takes in doing this thing he has mastered and handles with the unassuming ease of steering one’s own limbs. Camera shutters click in endless desire; eyelids, too, cover and uncover their shining orbs in slow motion, as if to expose the retina to the particular shape of his light, to develop the memory films and tuck them away along with the smells, the feelings, the sounds of the night.

He smiles and they smile back, it’s a reflex neither party can help, and no one can remember who started the exchange but it doesn’t really matter. He gazes down and smiles – somehow proudly and shyly at the same time, a part of his magic – as he tells them how pretty they all look, gazing up at him with their own smiles on their faces, how nice it is to be here, Everyville, America, you guys are just the best. He tells them how happy they look, and they’re tricked into even more enthusiastic smiles, all the happier because he says so and then happier still, which makes him beam again, and again, and again. It might be a genius stage trick, he’s an old hand at this, they know, but it, like so many things right now, just doesn’t matter. Nothing matters except the fact that he tells them we look happy and then they are so. Swaying to the magic of unknown melodies amid unknown bodies, the air thick with last-minute hair spray and summertime sweatiness under the awning that holds the starlight of the late concert and the smiles no one can help.

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Dear Mrs. Danielsson

Now that I write it out, I can’t even remember how to really spell your last name. Did I get it right? The only certainty is that you guys are Swedish for sure, and the kids called you Melissa and Magnus. 

Wonder if they still do. 

Wonder if it would feel any more or less awkward to hear, now that they’re (pre?)teenagers and probably have some attitude to back it all up. Are they still allowed?

 

The lamb’s ear in our fledgling front yard garden is flourishing! I guess it’s misleading to combine fledgling and flourishing in one garden, huh? If I had to pick one I’d go with the latter. But strangely, and quite nicely, the garden manages to be both of those things. lush and beautiful, but still sort of incomplete looking. Like, it’s working on itself. Which it is. With a lot of help from my mom’s ache-y back and tennis shoulder, which we keep nagging her about, but she won’t stop pruning her yard-baby. But yeah, the lamb’s ear is plush and glorious in its uniquely epic, teddy-bear-in-plant-form kind of way, and it always, always reminds me of the time that you took us all to the Botanical Garden in Atlanta. Where I met this stuffed animal-plant hybrid for the first time and was too amazed not to filch a leaf, although the signs clearly stated No Stealing of Specimen. Or something like that. I just really wanted to show my mom, who wasn’t there with us, sharing these wondrous tropical moments.

 

We came home, me with pocketsful of individual leaves, wilting and distinctly less glorious than they had been, before I stole-killed them in one fell swoop. Well, more like many tiny, filchy swoops. Lesson: do not try to possess nature. She’ll commit suicide the moment you wrap your greedy little fingers around her tendrils.

 

There were lots of lessons. learned thanks to you, Mrs. Danielsson, though I never thought about them in so many words. How to be a normal-person mom who uses her babysitter. How to deal with a baby with nut allergies whose babysitter has fed her an almond biscotti. Okay, so admittedly, a lot to do with babysitting, which is only natural, given our relationship. But also!: How to accept spicy food graciously, even when it makes you sweat profusely and obviously. How to be trusting and generous with neighbors. How to remain in someone’s life for a long time after they’ve left, simply by letting them partake in your daily mishaps and triumphs. The bedtime whines and the Christmas cookies, always the Pillsbury kind, out of the blue tube.

 

I wonder if there are things that make you think of me, or if the experience was only a one-way impressionism. Were there other babysitters, after we moved away? (I’m sure there were.) Did you like them better?worse?the same? 

 

I still wear the Paris! t-shirt from Paris! My mom says I should throw it out and stop dressing myself like such a hobo, but I refuse.

 

Hope all is well with you — and Mr. Danielsson and Eric and Emily, none of whom are little anymore, probably. But sort of always will be, right? There’s a storm about these parts; hope it’s sunny down there for you and your bumblebees.

 

Love,

Jaehee