Saturday, September 05, 2009

Do You REALLY Want to be Friends?

My whole life I have struggled with friendships where I am the one who has to work on the constant upkeep: the phone calls andn the visiting and the sending of cards. After a while, it seems very one-sided and I stop. 99.9% of the time, the friendship just flits away into the ether--nowadays we have Facebook to deal with people like this.

I used to have a very close relationship with a cousin of mine and we were almost like sisters, but better than sisters because there wasn't any of the sibling rivalry. Our parents would send us to Japan for the summer, mine because they were busy with the restaurant, and hers because there were 5(!) kids in the house, so it was nice for her parents to send a few of them away for a little while. When I was studying in Michigan I went out to visit her in Minnesota, where she lives, and she drove 8 miles down to Chicago to meet up.

About 12 years ago, I decided to stop the phone calls because I didn't want to keep up a relationship where I felt that I was the only one who cared. And so we've stopped talking. I attended her wedding and she attended mine, but we've been pretty much out of touch. She does, however, come into New York a few times a year and she'll always go to my dad's restaurant to eat a free meal. In these 12 years not once has she ever called me to meet up with her. I took that as a sign that she's not interested.

Today, my father calls me up to let me know that she's at the restaurant and he puts her on the phone. It's sort of evident that she wasn't planning on talking to me, but I suppose my father put her on the spot. And in the conversation, she admits that she visits NY all the time, but it has never occurred to her to call me up. That statement alone made me want to hang up on her.

She makes a big deal out of asking me for my email address, which I give her, which has not changed in the past 15 years or so (even though everyone and his IT guy has been trying to get me to switch to gmail).

The thing is that I'm a pretty optimistic person. You know what they say, that a pessimist is really just an optimist who's been disappointed too many times.

I would love to actually think that my cousin wants to hang out and that she's genuinely going to email me the next time she's in town, but I just know better. A part of me always wants my friends to really be their best selves. The person that I remember when I really loved them. The person who might actually have genuine feelings for me and want to see me. I know that it's very difficult to maintain relationships when we're older and that there's something to be said for losing touch with an old pal, but sometimes we just have to let things be.

And by the way, I've learned my lesson. The next time my father calls me, I'm going to ignore it.

No comments: