This past week, I had the good fortune of seeing too good friends of mine. I won’t give their names, but I’ll say where they’re from: Seattle and LA. I first visited Seattle in a coffee shop. She was friendly and approachable. I missed her a lot; we haven’t talked to each other for five years. I wish I could say that we picked up where we left off, but after five years, things change and move on. I’ve been friends with her since high school and some of my favorite experiences have been with her. I could always philosophize with her and she would teach me about relationships in general and some new avenues about emotions.
That’s one thing I miss about keeping up with old friends, the moment where you “pick up where you left off” sometimes doesn’t work. There was a sense of awkwardness between my friend and I, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. If there any awkward silences, we simply laughed them off and moved on to the next topic. Eventually, we had “caught up” more or less and I would like to keep the friendship. Of course, distance makes things harder, but after seeing each other, there’s a hope (at least on my side) that I would like to stay in touch with her. In terms of personality, goals, ambitions, and memories, she hasn’t changed. She was the same Seattle as ever. I miss her already.
A few days later, I met LA at a diner in Salt Lake. She was a friend I made while I was in college and I was also very close to her. I also haven’t talked to her for about five or six years. The experience with LA, however, was different. LA seemed like a new person. I remember when she introduced me to new forms of music, new things to do in the Ogden/Salt Lake area, and we could talk about anything. However, when I met LA, I felt like I was talking to a new person. During this conversation, she asked me, “Shaun, why did we lose touch through all this time?” I just shrugged my shoulders and we kept talking.
Her sense of style has changed, her music is totally different, and what she considers fun, I consider lame. For example, she said that I should go clubbing with her that night. I hate going to clubs, and she did also when I met her. But now, she is way into the club scene along with other activities that I really don’t care for. By talking to her, she seemed not as deep or thoughtful as she was. To be honest, she seemed superficial and not really reflective. For example, I asked her of her opinion of a certain topic, and her reply was: “who cares?” It seemed shallow to me that this thoughtful person would give that reply. She only cared about superficial things. She was never like this. She cared about the situation of the world, but now she doesn’t. Who was this person and what have you done with LA? There was a sense of awkwardness, but went against the grain with who I was. With Seattle, it was only awkward when there were silences. With LA, it felt awkward throughout the whole conversation. I actually wanted to leave. Thankfully, the meeting ended. The goodbye was even more awkward. She did the double-kiss thing which threw me off guard. With Seattle, we simply gave each other a hug goodbye. As I drove home from away from LA, I felt like I had dinner with a stranger instead of an old friend. We said that we should keep in touch, but I seriously doubt we will. I don’t know if she meant it (you know how people are, they always say to stay in touch, but that phrase “stay in touch” is just a nice way of ending a conversation). I remember all those good times that we had together, but I also remember how she had changed when she went to college. I’m sure she could sense the awkwardness between us. This friendship, I’m sad to say, will probably be dissolved.
So what’s going on here?
After this, I wanted to know why my friends and I lost touch. Obviously, it was because I moved to Texas for two years and we couldn’t hang out. With Seattle, the visit was friendly and I felt like we could keep the friendship alive.
But with LA, this wasn’t the usual type of “losing touch”. I made friends with this person and we did pretty much everything together: we worked together, we always hung out, we watched movies, I even went to one of her dances. But when she entered college, she changed big time. Her personality shifted to someone that I really didn’t care for and she turned into someone that I wouldn’t want to be friends with. So in this instance, we didn’t “grow apart,” but I felt like I lost one of my good best friends and this new person took her place.
I wanted to know the aspects of this relationship and it made me do some research on friendship. After a little investigating, I noticed that the philosophers talk about gaining friends and keeping them. No one that I know of talks about getting rid of friends. And I don’t mean getting rid of them in the sense of “growing apart,” I mean getting rid of them by actively dissolving the friendship.
At any rate, I’m now writing a paper about friendship and I had some questions and see what anyone thinks about friendship.
- At what point should the friendship dissolve? What are the reasons for it? Couldn’t one stay with that friend but superficially? If so, is it worth it? If not, why not?
- We only have one word for “love” in English. The Greeks had many words and they would say that my love for my friends is philia. It’s a sort of love that you have for your fellow friends. In fact, the world “Philadelphia” is called “the city of brotherly love.” I never really understood philia or this “friendly-love.” I can understand romantic love (or what the Greeks calls eros), but what is friendly love? Is it like romantic love but not as intense? Is it a totally different kind of love altogether, much like familial love is different from romantic love? What are the features of philia? It can’t be just “caring” because romantic and familial love have those features also.
- So far, some books that deal with friendship from a philosophical point of view have been Aristotle, Montaigne, and Cicero. Can you think of anyone else?
Usually, however, most friends just simply “grow apart.” I understand that friends sometimes grow apart as they grow up. I think out of all the friends in high school, I only keep in touch with about 4 or 5% of them. In college, it’s much lower. I even remember that when I moved to Texas, I lost touch with my Utah friends. But now that I’m back in Utah, I’ve pretty much lost a lot of contact with my Texas friends. It’s an unfortunate thing, but it happens. I’m sure that when I go to grad school again, I’ll lose touch with my Utah friends again. Perhaps I’m overanalyzing things, or maybe I’m nostalgic. Either way, I miss my friends and I will miss them when I leave.