I’m in San Diego with my friend whom I haven’t seen for many years. He reminds me of the days I had just come to America. I had no food. I showed up at his house to eat sometimes. Winter approached. I had only one pair of shoes. I went inside his closet to find shoes and clothes. We had fun times too. We visited the clubs and danced. Battles as well? Yes; loud arguments in each other’s face. He is a forthright character. Me too. So we fought loud and passionately. But I can recall no moment of bitterness, no episode of vengeance, no betrayal, no disloyalty.
Life has been good to me so that I always remembered these histories. But I had forgotten the depth of the pain and pleasures experienced in those past. Through him, I remember and feel again inside those memories. This remembrance forces me to acknowledge I have done well with time.
As I get older, I bond with people more easily because I learned the skills of spending time with others. I learned how to mask my vulnerabilities amongst strangers. I learned how to make others happy in my presence and how to socialize with peacefulness even while conflict flirts in the air. I learned how to reveal enough of myself to others to court their friendships and to deny them any possible relationship with me. I learned how to separate different kinds of friendships, associations, business relationships, intimate relationships, family relationships, and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of persons close to me, so that at all times I serve my relationships in a meaningful way and ensure they serve me productively.
It, however, becomes more challenging to develop deeper bonds with persons who do not know my history. Most of the persons I meet and smile with daily are persons I don’t want to see or hear from when I close the doors of my house. Indeed, I can hang with them and eat several meals with them, but it takes more time for me to trust them. Time has given me the skills to more professionally understand relationships, but this skill has become the very tool that makes me cautious about developing deeper bonds too quickly with persons.
When I was younger, if I didn’t trust someone, I would still allow them deep into my life. Now, I pull away from some persons if the relationship is getting deep too quickly. This strategy has worked well for me, so I will not change it. I like moving slowly when it comes to developing bonds with persons. In the same way, I move slowly when it comes to disabling deep bonds I have built over the years.
That is, I don’t let my friends go easily when we have issues or fights. I know family members fight; so why should I be alarmed when friends fight as well? I sometimes reach a point, nonetheless, when I will struggle no more to keep an old bond. Usually I make this decision if I realize the old bond seriously thinks she/he can do without my friendship when we are confronted by crisis. And I don’t tolerate betrayals or disloyalty or certain insults. Still, usually, the decision to struggle no more for a deep friendship is something that emerges very slowly.
To return to my friend, the history we share is a history most of my new friends do not know. Thus, at my lowest points, it’s important to have someone around who can recall those memories to recenter and uplift me. This very reason reminds me of the need to preserve healthy friendships as long as I can.
Being in San Diego is therapeutic. Not because I’m going to sightseeing places; just being around a close friend, another body, who houses my history is a form of healing. And I house his history as well. So what is happening now is that our histories are massaging each other, massaging away the aches and pains of time, sweetly tickling our nerves as we reminisce, healing our bodies, revising the translation of our memories, giving body to our deepest desires for excellence, and fashioning a prosperous new year for both of us.