8.12.2003

You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family.

I've never been particularly close to my family. I have nearly nothing in common with them. My father passed away in '92. He was distant, silent and reacted poorly to adversity. The only two things that I could share with him was that he could be funny when he chose to be (about once a year) and liked to watch sports. My mother is a self-centered Catholic. The only thing I have in common with her is a love of movies (and my difficulty in thinking of others before myself if I am to be fully honest).

My brother and I fought like sworn enemies growing up. Hostile, violent and uncompromising would best describe our relationship. We had no interests in common. I always wanted to play chess or sports or any game with him growing up. He didn't because I am way too competitive (though I didn't realise it at the time). We pretty much kept to ourselves. I'm not exactly sure what he did to keep himself busy, that's how far apart we were.

Things have changed today. We have more to talk about now. We found a common love of arts and foreign culture. I don't know if we can just hang out. I wouldn't really know what to say to him if I went out to dinner, just me and him. He's my brother and I would walk across fire for him but I don't call him up when I'm bored or have something to bitch about.

I have lots of very good friends. I treasure my friends above all else. I also treat them badly on occasion. I have been accused of being vicious and cruel to them and it's true. I can be a very poor friend at times. I can have terrible judgment when it comes to interacting with people. But I suppose that I don't do it often enough to chase them away so I seem to have built up many very close relationships. I know for a fact that were my familly killed and house burned to the ground I would be able to stay indefinitely with any of them. They could all be godparents to my future children (though perhaps some are more qualified than others). Maybe I overestimate the relationship but I think not.

Most of the people I meet, I want as little to do with as possible. Thus, my default personality for meeting strangers I am forced to interact with is cold and impersonal. I'll talk about the weather with you if you're lucky. "Nice day" is a conversation as far as I'm concerned; now leave me alone. I've got things to do and the only reason I'm talking to you is cause I need something from you. Strangers at a bus stop, cashiers, passers-by-- no more talking than necessary, please. I don't want to see pictures of your kids or hear your opinion of that guy's hat, you inane, petty navel-gazer.

Hmm. That sounds more introverted than I really am. I love to meet people at parties or functions where I can be sure people have something in common with me. If a friend is having a party, odds are the people there are there because my friend liked something about them. That goes a long way. I'll want to meet you. If I'm at church bazaar, I'll be sitting in a corner watching the clock hands spin mercilessly.

I was once sitting on a bench in a city square of Chartres (France) writing about what I saw on a cool but sunny Sunday morning. Suddenly, a strange man sat next to me (with a baguette, naturally) and begin chatting with me. I wanted to die. I was enjoying the solitude and in barged this thrashing beast. But because he was a resident of another country I talked with him, learned about him. Asked him what he liked about France, what he did, what he knew about Canada. I learned about how he saw his country, how he saw mine and how he saw himself. It ended up being quite pleasant, he was a nice enough guy. But it was certainly not something I would ever initiate.

Which makes the people I consider friends all the more special to me. People I can relate to. I am fiercely loyal to them and relish each opportunity to see them. I crave them and need both their validation or rejection, either is fine because, really, it's the honesty I seek. I need to know I'm not alone on this planet with people who have no desire to look past their front lawn. I need to argue, to laugh, to tell stories and to have stories told to me. I need people to sing with, to joke with, to threaten with mock fervour, to rant and vent upon, to be an audience and to perform for me. I rely on a network of people to get me through each day.

I chose you and you chose me. I like watching you change over the years. Watching you smile quietly or laugh uproariously. Seeing you passed out or running down a field. Hearing your tall tales or secret confessions. Fearing for you and cheering you on. You hold my hand and I hold yours and together we raise an island for ourselves against a rising tide of apathy.