I dreamed this morning about a friend that was very dear to me. In my dream he had taken the form of two people and all three of us were wearing ROCKMOUNT shirts.
My friend told me that half of the fun of getting a Rockmount was the cool box in which it arrived. I explained that I got my Rockmount at the original store in Denver and there was no cool shipping box.
This little fact seemed to dampen my friend's spirit and in just a moment I was awake.
As I lay there thinking about the meaning of my morning dream I like to believe it suggests something about the transitory nature of friendship and how much I do not like this. This same friend from my dream once told me years ago that he is what he likes to call a "proximity friend". When I asked him to elaborate on that topic he said that he really only maintains friendships with people he sees and speaks to on a nearly daily basis.
This floored me. I went to Europe with this guy and showed him my soul across the continent. I thought I was building one of those life enduring buddies that get together at VFW halls and celebrate war wounds and feminine conquests disguised as medals.
I had chosen to leave a job that was mentally unsatisfying to me and my friend would continue to work at this same institution. However, never in my wildest dreams did I consider changing jobs would effectually end a friendship.
Facebook, Wordpress, text messages, and even old-fashioned phone calls have allowed me the ability to maintain friendships, grow new ones, and rediscover friends long-lost. However, none of these methods provides camaraderie. My "proximity friend" had a point and even after being terribly hurt and confused all those years ago, I can still see what he meant.
I have many friends whom I adore. I have very little camaraderie in my life. We move around so often, travel for so long, and lead a very unstructured existence all by choice. In turn I have created my own awkward syllogism: all camaraderie is proximity, and I do not have proximity to any of my dear colleagues, therefore I have no camaraderie. Yes, I do see some wonderful friends on occasion and the experiences are enriching. However, on a daily basis I am basically a one man show. Just last week when Juliet and I went to a wine dinner. It had been exactly one week since I had spoken to another human being in person besides my wife and a cashier at Whole Foods whom I told to donate my bag credit. I am not kidding.
While I am certainly better now than I year ago at working towards my own personal goals and endeavors, the absence of human interaction is creating a bit of madness within me. I find myself watching shows on televisions like Mad Men and Downton Abbey and longing for some trivial human emotional dysfunction just to feel a bit more alive. I was already a bit anti-social so removing me from day-to-day interaction with other humans has imbued me with even greater disconnection with the planet.
Have I really sought this? Or have I simply wanted to find the right group of kids to play in my world? I walked through Washington Park here in Denver the other day and saw so many groups of young people 35 and under playing sports, throwing frisbees, hanging out with dogs, and simply finding the joy in togetherness. I didn't attempt to join because as one of my favorite bloggers said to me the other day "you are not a joiner."
I am not, and I am also not a proximity friend. I will always be loyal to the efforts I, and another person have made to be friends; time or distance be damned. Yes, I want the camaraderie I miss desperately, yet I will not turn off my responsibility as a friend if such a distance arises between us. I won't simply join any old group just to have a group. I tried this once in high school when my closest friends got girlfriends I joined in some less than stellar company and received less than stellar experiences.
Today, I will plug away at my work dreaming of one day having an office again with wonderful colleagues working towards some project with high hopes and heady humor. I choose my friends very carefully and perhaps now more than ever. I ask friends to dinner parties or to events because I like them very much. If you are my friend you are someone I admire, and derive joy from knowing.
My proximity will continue to change frequently in the foreseeable future but my desire for genuine camaraderie shall not wane.