There are several times in my life that I met new people. We went through something together. Whatever it was and wherever that something might have been, whether it was a class or just an intense part of life; whether this was during a time of great healing or even back in the days of my treatment, there were people I knew that I swore I would always know forever.
I swore we would keep in touch. We promised we would too but somehow life changes as soon the doorway changes.
This is not to say that our terms of endearment were nothing. At the time, I believe we meant every word. But the day changed. Life changed. Maybe the situation changed, which is not to say that I do not look back with a sense of affection or appreciation. No, this just means the words we use and the feelings we assumed at the moment can and will often only be momentary.
There was a time in my 20’s when I hung around a group of friends. I called them my friends although, in full disclosure, I often questioned my friendships and wondered how real they were.
I noticed the people in the crowd and the roles they played. This one was the funny one. That one was the tough one. And him, he was the crazy one. And the other one over there, he was the lady’s man. He was “The player,” so to speak.
Each and every one of us had a posture. I had one too. I had my look down and my walk or at least I tried to. I fixed the collar on my shirt a certain way. I held my cigarette a certain way. When we stood in the crowd, I had to stand a certain way because this was my role.
The truth is I was uncomfortable. I was awkward and trying to seem smooth, which was uneasy for me. But still, I tried the best I can to flow to the best of my ability.
The people I knew then were the people I swore I would always know. We were going to be at or in each other’s weddings. We were going to have family get-togethers and barbecues together. Strange now, however, because sometimes, I have seen some of these old friends and we walked by each other like complete and total strangers.
There are new people I have met and assumed our connection would be different. And now I know. Sometimes words are just words without the meaning behind them.
Now I know it is wrong to assume someone’s intention. It is wrong to assume others think or feel or they will react as I would, simply because they say so. I do not assume anyone’s connection anymore. I just enjoy my time. Otherwise, I place too much on outcomes that are far beyond my control.
I spent years working as a lead and acting chief engineer in a building on 34th Street. I kept in touch with a few people. Mainly, I kept in touch with one of my partners in the engineering department.
In fact, I’m the one that helped him get the job. They wanted to hire someone else but I insisted, over and over, “You have to hire him.”
I did this for a friend that helped me when I needed help. I gave my word that I would mention his man as a candidate. And I did. I held to my word.
I worked at this building for five years. The man I tell you about was my partner for three of them. We earned a living together. We broke bread together. We shared deep thoughts and intimate details of our life with one another.
This was brotherhood, which I was grateful for. We spilled our sweat and worked long hours. We had our troubles too, but my partner and me, we were tight for a while.
Then I landed a new job. I moved on. I had to find a new position because my growth was otherwise limited. I was sure we would keep in touch. And we did for a little while.
Now my old partner is just a memory. He is older than me so perhaps he retired. At least, I hope he retired.
He lived a hard life and went through hard times. My hope is he reached his dreams. Yet still, I do wish the phone calls never dwindled away.
I used to hold pain about the fading of relationships. For example, I held a weekly morning class at a homeless shelter. There was a connection there. I swore there was—and maybe the connection was only momentary, which is fine, but to me this was a bit deeper than that.
Rather than hold on to the questions I have about why people do and do not stay in touch and rather than wonder if a person’s word is sincere or not; instead, I just learned to look back and regard my feelings of happiness. I learned to look back and enjoy my memories instead of connecting them with words like, “Always” and “Never.”
Instead, I recognize the achievement I had, which is for a time, I saw wonderful things happen for people that lived in hard times.
Besides, always and never is a really long time. There are people I swore that I would always love, and I say love because at a time, there was a time when I swore I loved them this much. Fast forward and some of these people are just memories.
There are things I said that I would “Never” do and yet, here I am, doing things I swore I would never do.
I never thought this would be me now. I never thought I would see people from my past again and then one day pass them, only to have this cosmic click happen, as if a minute hadn’t occurred since the last time we spoke.
I cannot explain the connections we share or why connections slit apart. I am not sure why we assume we will always keep in touch and then later on, we barely remember an old friend’s name.
I used to hold this like a sign of rejection. But not anymore. I just realize people have their own priorities, which is fine. I know that friendship means something to me.
My version of friendship is not the same to other people, which is fine too because this allows me to choose the people I want to have in my life.
This also helps me realize that not everyone is intended for long-term friendships.
I used to own this as a hardship but not anymore. Now I just live. I do not hold expectations or attach myself to the outcomes of my relationships. I just try to pay attention to the good times and the laughs. Otherwise it is easy to become resentful.
I don’t want to be resentful . . .
I don’t want to waste my time wondering the sincerity of others and worrying about the ideas of rejection. It’s better for me to appreciate what I have and who I have in my life, one day at a time.
By the way, I love working near Grand central station. I love it when I see an old face. I also love the fact that I reserve the right to say hi or say nothing at all.
The choice is up to me.