On Friendship (2013)

You don’t make friends- you find them. I’ve only ever had a few in my life, but when I found them I knew immediately. There’s a sort of intimacy, a comfort which is felt like a blanket around two strangers who automatically fall in step- they can speak without fear and find joy in discovering all the ways that humans can understand one another. It ends up feeling as if you’ve already known the person for a very long time.

It’s a rare and wonderful thing to find a friend- someone whose intellect, maturity, and decency you can trust. Someone who gets you in all the best ways. Once you find them, there’s no going back: their company becomes indispensable to your own happiness as the more experiences you share, the more you are bonded together. And gradually, their happiness becomes indispensable to yours, like an extension of your own well-being. Protecting their heart becomes your responsibility, because it’s part of your heart now, too.

But like all good things humans are ever blessed enough to blindly stumble upon, we don’t know how to keep a friendship once we’ve got it. We grow complacent and expect that it always will thrive, maybe because we didn’t do anything to earn it in the first place. We underestimate how much we’d suffer if we lost it, because we just don’t think it could happen. But perhaps worst of all, we get selfish.

Humans have an odd tendency towards ownership- we see something we like and, instead of appreciating it for its beauty, we like to slap stickers on things and say “Mine.” This tendency is extended to our friends: we want to be best friends, we want to know that you like us the most, we want your word that you’ll always be there, we want labels, we want assurance. The funny thing is, the best part about friendship is the sublime level of trust that can be achieved, but there’s no chance for that when you’re holding on too tight. I have been guilty of this far too many times not to know the devastating consequences of squeezing the life out of someone you care about.

Miraculously, true friendships seem to have a tremendous bounce-back rate.

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Year 2: Day 122 – Butt Ducks

I have this friend who is certifiably mad.
All the best people are, you know.

I know I’m not supposed to go
traipsing off with lunatics
but a tinfoil hat is not so far
from a fedora, after all.

Today he’s telling me about butt ducks.
He talks to animals, aliens too.
We are at a nude beach
and I am staring intently into a book
and listening.

We had apples and a honey bun
and some cheddar chips and orange juice
for breakfast-
I selected that meal because I wanted it
and he is not picky.
We are at the nude beach because he wanted to
and I am not picky.

Butt ducks are special birds which give you looks
and speak into your mind, “look over here”
and then lean forward in the water
to show you the moon and make you laugh.

They are for cheering you up when no one else will,
he says.

There are some of our wondering mutual friends
who say “Don’t get murdered” and “Come here instead”
but the heart of me is with people who are mad,
who leave their shorts with me,

and don’t mind if I close my eyes
and am comforted,
just listening to their crazed laughter.

Year 2: Day 121 – I’m Reading This Book

I’m reading this book that says
that God didn’t mean for us
to be alone

and He didn’t make Adam a mother
or even a son,
He made him a wife.

Well how’s that for
a strong statement?

It’s said that friendship
is a steel cord
that tethers us together,

but sometimes God puts a little
electricity
in it.

And up until now I thought
that we were just whiners,
never content with ourselves,

that loneliness is made up
in our heads.

But maybe I’m the one
who’s got it wrong.
Maybe I’m the one
who’s content to be something
we weren’t meant to be.

Or maybe it doesn’t really matter
all that much.

Year 2: Day 104 – Now Do You Believe?

Now do you believe
that we are never-ending,
that we can speak across the universe
in the language only we know?

When I had counted you gone
but could not feel right
without writing your name
on the first page,

and you had counted me gone
but could not feel right
without opening that book
to find your name

do you believe it’s been long enough
to prove us blood?

When I wrote though I knew
you weren’t reading,
but I couldn’t help myself

and you knew that I wasn’t
writing for you,
but you couldn’t help yourself

do you believe we are eternal,
long-lost brother, do you believe
in sibling souls, do you believe
we could’ve been found
any other way?

Year 2: Day 102 – Puppies

I hear what they say about me,
they say I collect puppies.
Meh, it could be worse.

I could actually believe
that the hunt is all that matters.
I could get upset when them girls close the windows,
they don’t want me runnin’ with their boys no more,
when them boys get uptight when they read the wrong sign
about this business be closed or open,
when they call my only friends puppies.

It don’t heat me none.
But a lot of the world’s missin’ a beautiful thing:
when a woman can rest her head
on the shoulder of a man
and he ain’t a puppy
and she ain’t afraid
and it’s nothin’ else,
nothin’ to read.

I could live a full life like that.
Hear ’em talk I’m the only one,
and maybe that’s why it looks
the way it does.

Year 2: Day 71 – Post-It Note

I dream sometimes of a post-it note:
“Hey girl. I’m sorry. You win.”

And then I write, “Oh hey.
Didn’t even notice you’re still alive.
I’m sorry, too. We both win.”

And I tear it up in a hundred bits
and I blow it outta town.

OR I send it with a bluebird
straight to you
and both our hearts grow
three sizes that day.

But hey, come on,
I said it was a dream.
Hearts grow around the holes

and they can grow three sizes anyway
just accepting the way things are.

Day 256 – That’s All It Is

Time cannot erase a friend,
that’s all it is.

Thinking back to younger days
when our hearts communicated freely,
when our minds worked overtime for each other,
to understand-

when we have settled and do without
and wonder why it lingers still,
that pinhole left which seldom hurts
but squeaks its presence sometimes;

when we hardly notice it’s gone at all,
that charm that fell out of our pocket
and which, when we remember its absence,
hope it’s bringing someone else some luck;

when all the pain and all the urgency
has dried and blown away,
though we mostly believe it’s better gone
and never thought about-

the crux of the thing remains,
a seed which cannot ever die.

Time cannot erase a friend,
that’s all it is.