Tag Archives: friendship

We Might Not Come Back. Drink Anyway.

I’m moving away, and I’d like to talk about The Tavern.

Scene: Adventurer’s tavern. Night. The bar is full, and the old friends, gather at the same table. Again.

*FELIMIR
Well twas long, long ago, back when the trees were talkin’

KNIGHT FERGUS
T’was only yesterday.

FELIMIR
Yes, yes, I’m getting to it, there’s a formula you know.
Where was I?
A long time ago, long ago, so long ago that no one can remember and no tree can remember and no rock can remember, a place so far away beyon’t that –

KNIGHT FERGUS
It was last night across the river. Now tell the fighty bits.

FELIMIR
Alright, if you’ll have all the heart taken out if it.

Moving is the most stressful thing a human can experience. It’s loss, change, and the elimination of all points of reference. It can also be incredibly rewarding. I’m moving from Oakland, CA to a red state, and true to form, I’m all set to inject drama into this situation where perhaps there was none.

When I left New York, there were parties, yes, but there was also crying, gnashing of teeth, and “don’t go!” conversations.

When I moved from Seattle to San Francisco, only two friends came over to help me load the U-haul. There was no pomp or circumstance. We chatted and taped boxes as though it were any other Saturday afternoon, and parted with a “see ya.”

The lack of drama surprised me a bit.

I don’t typically keep friends for longer than five years. A friend once told me that your friends aren’t people you share values with; they’re the people you do stuff with. That made me think that friendships end because interests change. Another told me that when we move, we create a self-shaped void in the lives of those we left behind — but our life becomes a giant mass of voids (where do I hang out? Where’s the grocery store, place to watch the sun rise? Dojo? Job? Hospital? Coffee shop? Diner?). We get stressed, while everyone else is fine. The world rolls on without us, and the place we left disappears.

The last time I visited familiar places in New York, it felt like wearing a sweater that was too small. License plates were a different color. People had grown physically and emotionally. Items from my childhood that should have been dear sparked nothing in me. I was so unmoored from the things that were supposed to be meaningful that I felt the foundation of my identity crumble.

Because of those experiences, I anticipate losing people as soon as I meet them. The impermanence of relationships looms large in my brain. This fear became self-fulfilling. I freaked out with my New York friends, and tried to keep everything the same with an obsessive fervor. You can guess how badly that ended.

Since that time, I’ve tried to accept that paths diverge. My interests change, so do others’. People drift apart, so that’s ok.

The problem is that I’ve applied the same obsessive fervor to ACCEPTING THAT PATHS DIVERGE so I pull out the scissors as quickly as I once pulled out needle and thread.

It’s not the drifting or the grasping that’s destructive; it’s the fervor. 

Leaving my core group in California will be hard, just like it was hard to leave my core group in New York. These relationships have been special and illuminating — supportive and challenging. They’re all very different people, with different specialties and perspectives I would never have had access to. I felt sad, not that I was going to leave them; but that I was going to lose them.

When I mentioned this to one of them, they responded with an eye-roll.

“I’ve always taken some issue with your idea about paths diverging and not diverging and all that.”

“In what way?”

“In every way. You’ve been asking if we’re about to diverge since the second time we met.”

Even in my writing, the opening paragraph is usually this is the story of how it all went wrong. I’m so scared of the ending that it colors the beginning.

My friend said, “I see us on different adventures, constantly meeting in the tavern between quests, and then setting off on new ones in the morning. You’re my brother forever and I’ve been fucking loving you across the current of you asking me if our paths were diverging for, like, seven years. Calm down.”

Which brings us back to the tavern. It’s got a million names. It’s The Winchester, The Bronze, Ten-Forward, The Hanged Man, Cafe Solstice, Cafe La Boheme. Facebook. Twitter.

“This may be the last time we drink together in this tavern,” Felimir gloomed into his tankard.

“Dude,” said Fergus, “you get like this every time. Drink your fucking mead, we’ll be back in two days. Chill.”

Tomorrow morning we all have to get up and fight dragons, my friend said. I get that we’re all nervous about it, and we all have our own way of coping. Maybe you’re right, and it won’t be the same. That doesn’t mean it’s over. For fuck’s sake, just drink.

Where do you gather with your friends? A living room? A cafe? A chat box, or a number on speed-dial?

Where’s your tavern?

*Excerpt from: The Sorrows, or Deirdre From The Legend Kills Herself In Every Version But That Doesn’t Mean You Always Have To, currently under development through Custom Made Theater’s Undiscovered Works Series.

The Difference Between Help and Support

Go to the right person for the right thing, my buddy always told me. The more you try to fit someone into a designated box, the more unhappy both of you will be.

This gets especially tricky when you’re looking for assistance.

As creatives, sometimes it’s hard to tell what we need in that moment of urgency. We reach out to those around us with sticky toddler-hands, grasping for some kind of comfort when we don’t have the right words. Without the words, it’s inevitable that we’ll push our loved-ones’ boundaries and still not get what we need.

There are two types of aid you can ask for: help and support. These aren’t really the same thing.

Help is when someone edits your manuscript, introduces you to the person running an open mic, or shows up at your house with tissues and chocolate when you’ve been having a shitty week. Sometimes the most helpful person in the world has a rough way about them, and won’t do as well if asked to offer emotional support.

Support is when someone builds you up in an unending fountain of encouragement. Support is when you know someone is rooting for you, sending good vibes, praying for you or otherwise in your corner. Sometimes the most supportive person in the world is energetically introverted, or has a lot on their plate, and won’t do as well if asked to give more proactive help.

Help is invaluable.
Support is priceless.

Go to the right people for the right things.

 

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.”
― George Carlin

 

There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
― John Holmes

 

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Good News, Everyone!

Two quick updates before I skitter back to the secret lair:

1. I’m going to be a speaker at Baycon in May! This year’s theme is close to my heart. From their web site: “2014 will see the 32nd incarnation of BayCon as we celebrate Honor – among enemies, the knight and the shadowknight – and all the other ways we find our own ethos of Honor.” More importantly, it falls on Memorial Day weekend, and there will be a march to remember the fallen men and women of the US military. The gravity of the holiday is somewhat tempered, for me, by the fact I’ll get to stand alongside some truly talented and innovative folk. Be sure to check them out and follow them all on Twitter.

2. My fantasy novel (the first in a series of four) has been picked up by an agent.

You guys, I couldn’t have done it alone. Lauren, Carson, Loretta, REDdog, Tom, Drew, Margit, shoe1000, and everyone else who has been reading this blog… Y’all are the ship and the star to sail ‘er by. I’m overcome with gratitude. Thank you for hanging out with me and keeping my spirits up through this process.

Tomorrow, our work begins in earnest; but tonight — we celebrate.

 

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Dirty Limericks

Many years ago, I had a disastrous falling-out with a friend. A week ago we reconnected and decided to let bygones be bygones. As though no time had passed, we fell into old patterns — one of which was the exchange of limericks. His are far better than mine, and he has given me permission to share a few with all of you.

~

An athletic young lady from Dallas
Used a dynamite stick as a phallus.
They found her vagina
In North Carolina
and her buttocks at Buckingham palace.

That old chicken farmer from Hay
Had chickens that just wouldn’t lay.
The problem was Brewster,
His champion rooster.
Brewster the rooster was gay.

Our most glorious king of An Tir
At the top of his lungs yelled, “more beer!”
We ran out of brew,
So we fed him some glue,
Now he can’t take a piss for a year.

There once was a Scot named McAmeter,
Whose tool had prodigious diameter.
But it wasn’t his size
That gave girls their surprise…
‘Twas his rhythm — iambic pentameter.