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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Friendship Connection

I've been doing a lot of thinking about connections.  How we make them.  How we break them.  How we do everything to keep them going, and how we're constantly trying to make new ones.  How sometimes the connections we make aren't as simple as we believe them to be, and how sometimes the most complex connections turn out to be the ones you need the most.

I think the idea of connecting with other people is a must for everybody on this planet.  I think as much as some of us try to deny it, we all need to have some form of interaction with other people because those interactions help keep us sane.

But what if you have a difficult time making such connections?  What do you do then?

Well, I can only speak for myself, but I consider myself to be one of those people who have a really difficult time getting close to people.  What that reason is, I'm not sure.  I have reason to suspect it is because I am considered to be an introvert in a small town filled with extroverted people, and I have always felt as if I don't quite know my place in this world.

Or it could be because I'm as ugly as Quasimodo and repulse everybody that I come into contact with.  But, somehow I don't think that's quite the reason.

I think going back to when I was a kid (and going back to a previous post I wrote about being the odd one out in my family born between generations), I seemed to form connections with some of the most interesting people from my community.  I couldn't tell you the first friend I made in elementary school, but I could tell you that the first adult friend I made was Margaret, the head librarian of our town library at the time - whom I lovingly referred to as "the lady with the bun in her head".

(You see, she always wore her hair in a bun style, hence the phrase.  Funny thing is, I think she got a kick out of it.)

And it was like that throughout my early childhood.  I would have rather chatted with the yard duty teacher than play with people my own age.  I'd rather have talked to the guy delivering bread to the Quickie store instead of the teenagers crowded around the pinball machine.  I formed connections with the most random people in the most unusual circumstances and I saw nothing wrong with it at all.  Of course, I had parental units who supervised every interaction to make sure that it was safe (which was appreciated), but that was how it was. 

I guess part of it comes from the fact that I am the kind of person who doesn't really like small talk.  In fact, I can't stand the whole "Hi, how's your day" garbage that most of us in the world take part in at some point of the day.  I prefer to engage in deeper conversations that provoke thought and encourage creativity.  I'm thinking that could be why I connected with adults more when I was a kid.  I was surrounded by adults in my childhood, and I liked talking to them.  I learned more from the bread delivery guy about life than any of the kids in my class could have taught me.  Again, it seems really strange to some, but that's the way I made connections with people.

I think it also explains why I have so few friends in my community, but have hundreds of connections outside of town.  I've tried figuring it out, and I believe I have friends from four provinces, twenty-nine states, and five different countries!  That's quite a smattering of people scattered all over the place, isn't it?

And yet, I've only ever really met one or two of them in person.

Whether it was because we shared a common interest on a pop culture website, or whether we befriended each other through mutual friends, or in once case bonded because we tag teamed a troll on Facebook and decided that we should be friends because of it, I find it easier to connect with people online than I do in the real world.


Because online I get the chance to think carefully about how I want to phrase an opinion and I can edit it if I feel it's not exactly how I want to come across.  It's kind of similar to what I do with this blog.  My online persona is definitely more of a social butterfly than the dried up cocoon that I present myself as in the real world.  And that's not me poking fun at myself.  That's a known truth! 

Of course, this leads to a bit of a problem.

You see...the friendships that I have made all over the world through a couple thousand dozen keystrokes the last fifteen years are completely real to me.  I hold them in very high regard, and I appreciate them.  But it is such a horrible feeling to know that they are so far away.  It's not as if I can go out to grab a burger with them, or catch a movie with them, or just wander through the nearest park and talk about life as we spin ourselves sick on the swing set.  Online friendships are real friendships...but I wish I lived closer to them.

And, I guess there's a small sliver of doubt in myself about just how real those friendships are.  I worry that one day I will come face to face with these people that I have been friends with for so many years and they will be so disappointed with the actual face to face encounter that they never speak to me again.  Or I do something to screw it up.  Or, they think I look like Quasimodo and run screeching towards Notre Dame University in a panic.

Okay, that last thing won't happen.  Notre Dame University is about 900 miles away from where I live and they'd probably pass out just before they reach the New York state border.

I'm probably worrying over nothing really.  I tell myself that I've known these people for fifteen years now, and that they won't be disappointed if we ever met face to face.  I have to trust that to be true, and I do. 

Because when it comes to real friendships and real never know exactly where you will find them.  They can come out of nowhere from the most unlikely sources.

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