Life buzzes along. Each day my goal is to be aware of the individual moments that make it up. And while I am busy noticing and aware- ifying, the segments of life as I have known them rearrange themselves, usually without my noticing. Just as soon as I tell myself what a good place I am in, a new set of circumstances sweeps in, not necessarily bad ones, but different ones. Sometimes life doesn’t give me time to reflect on what has changed until years later when I am struck by a sudden new alignment of past events in my brain, leading me to a different perspective than before.
I don’t know what it says about me that I read “Friend Foreclosure.” Try just glancing at it quickly and maybe that is what you will see. No? Oh, I guess it was just me. I laughed at my mistake at the time but the phrase “Friend Foreclosure” stayed with me.
In the last few years I have become accustomed to seeing foreclosed properties all over town. In a subdivision such as mine an unmoved yard, a flowerbed full of leggy weeds and piled up newspapers are unmistakeable signs of an abandoned home. If one takes a few steps closer to the vacant house, the empty rooms can be seen through the windows of the very doors that used to welcome family and friends. One house in our neighborhood was not only abandoned but also left unlocked. With a group of neighbors I made a creepy, surreptitious tour of the house, noticing the rain damage where the window had been left open, the sagging lattice work pergola in the backyard, and the boxes of personal papers the occupants had left in their master bathroom. As we closed the front door carefully behind us, we all wondered what could have happened to this family.
Friendships have some similarities to homes. Both can be considered expressions of a person’s personality. Just as we furnish a living room to our taste, we desire certain qualities in the people we spent our time with. We can put a little or a lot of time into a property but certain tasks must be accomplished if the home or building is to meet our needs. Friendships too, cannot meet the participants’ needs without some investment by humans. And like houses, friendships can look one way on the outside but be just the opposite on the inside. Only those who open the door know what is inside.
And like real estate, a friendship can be foreclosed upon for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we realize the friendship is upside down, that no matter how much we put into it, it will always be a losing proposition, that its value will never appreciate. Maybe we didn’t “see” the flaws, that the structure was fundamentally flawed when we entered the friendship. We make the painful decision to cut our losses and walk away sooner, not later. It hurts to know that the person we invested in cannot return our friendship.
Sometimes we foreclose because although there might be some value in the friendship for us, we are just not able or willing to pay the “note” that would be expected. Earlier in life for me that could actually have been connected to money, in that I have sometimes had very little disposable income and literally could not keep up the socializing that my childless friends could. So I let go. Other situations where I have let go have involved a choice between the friendship and my own values; the values won. Life is too short for me to spend time with couples who bicker all evening, or husbands with entitled attitudes, or in conversations with those who spew political venom instead of having a civil discourse. Am I picky? Maybe.
It is definitely hard to make and keep friends as an adult. As I review the foreclosure list I come upon the category of the mutual foreclosure, where both of us simply let too much time go by. Like a homeowner facing eviction, we each fell so far “behind” that we couldn’t catch up. On my my part I regret these times, and wish I had tried harder to keep in contact, that I had not been so overwhelmed with life that I became careless with my friends. There are a few people I still think about, wish well, and hope they can forgive my lack of attention.
They say that each person has a social blueprint which determines his relationship style. Since I am thinking about this so much, I guess I need to figure out mine. At every age there can be reasons why we don’t have time to keep up with friends or to make new ones. But what I know is that at 57 years old I don’t have a lot of real estate I am wanting to walk away from. Perhaps I have walked away from too much already.
I want to enter the next stages of my life with my friendships as solid as old homesteads, showing some wear, but full of character. Some flaws I will keep simply in honor what all we have lived through together. But at the same time I want to be open to constructing new friendships. I vow never to become so old I cannot value the riches found in getting to know another person. So if I come across someone who is willing to loyally put up with my nerdy pursuits and sense of humor, just as I do theirs, I just may be in the market!
How about you? Any foreclosure stories?
I have walked away from so many bad relationships. At this point, I fear I don’t invest rather than invest too much and end up hurt. I am always in the market for interesting friends, though. Wherever they may be.
I basically like people. I’m in the people business, and am endlessly interested in their stories. I can become cautious after a bad apple or two but my curiosity always wins out. I’ll bet yours does too!
I’ve also found it generally hard to make friends as an adult, but I think my experience in Korea helped it a little. Expat life was a lot like summer camp for me in that the relationships I forged there were ones of necessity. We met people we would have otherwise never known and got to really know them since we worked, celebrated, and lived close to them. As a result, we all still keep in touch and we are even going to see one of our old friends this weekend. 🙂
There is much to be said for time and availability in making friendships. When you have little time or proximity to others, they can’t see your wonderfulness. I’m so glad you and B made those friendships!
I guess I’m picky too. There was this one friend of mine with whom it felt like I was walking on eggs all the time. It became so suffocating in the end that I walked away, cutting off all ties. I feel bad for doing such a thing, but I don’t regret the decision because let’s face it, life is too short to be bogged down by draining friendships.
Yes, Akshita, those are not really friendships. I think we have all had to learn how to extricate ourselves from these messes, wish the person well and move on. Thanks for commenting!
I have many friendships that have stood the test of time, being forged in high school, and in some cases, primary school. That’s quite a few years 🙂
Guess I chose well, or my friends did.
The friends we keep through the years are a precious commodity. I would say in your case that the choosing was mutually beneficial!
Yes, friends foreclosure – sometimes it is plain necessity that makes us foreclose – there are friends so filled with negativity that they do not allow themselves to see the bright side of life nor allow their friends to be positive about anything. Those friendships are poisonous and better foreclosed.
Other friendships are more of a temporary nature – like friends at school – when circumstances change, when friends develop in completely different directions and have nothing more in common but their past, then it seems only natural to me to call it a day.
Yes, sometimes it is natural to call it a day;after all, we change, and our needs change. Now that I am older I know better how to avoid the poisonous ones. Luckily I have a few tried and true friends, and I am grateful for them. And it’s good to hear from you again!
Nicely written! It gives me a new perspective on viewing relationships……I’ll let you know what the bank balance sheet looks like after I think about it a while. But I have a feeling there my frienship neighborhood looks like Detroit
Then I suppose it is time to rebuild! Thanks for the comment!
What an incredibly insightful metaphor. I too have had some friendships foreclosed on me over the years, some the result of my own inactions but others for unknown reasons. And while the banks may not be concerned about cutting the grass on a foreclosed property, in a friendship it takes actions by both parties to keep the yard looking nice and it is those friendships we cherish the most.
I like that – in friendships it takes actions by both parties to keep the yard looking nice!
Very well expressed!
I think there are some friends who are meant to be a part of our lives for only a short time. But I can say one thing, I value those friendships that stick around despite ups and down…the ones that are easy to maintain because they are low maintenance: no one holds a bit of absence against the other, and you know if you really need that person she’ll be there.
I couldn’t have said it better, Areyoufinsihed! Now that I am older I especially appreciate the low maintenance more and more. Thanks for commenting1
It is really astonishing I should read your post today. I was just returning from a harsh day and I was reflecting about lost friendships. I realized I just blamed it on the lack of time and now the emptiness looms large. But of course there were a few friendships(or so I thought) that I’m glad got snipped abruptly.
And it really heartened me to know that, at your age, you still have so much of willingness to go out and be with people, while I, several decades younger, already feel like giving up. Your personality really inspires me. Thank you for posting a picture of yourself too. I really felt good seeing that genial smile coupled with reading your lovely post.
What a very sweet, uplifting comment! This topic, regretting lost friendships, has been on my mind for a while and finally worked itself to the top. I think I am old enough now to look back, see my mistakes, grieve, forgive myself and try again. I included the picture so that people could see that while I may be a little weird I try not to take myself too seriously! Thanks for commenting!
In that photo, you look mahvelous, dahling!
Friendships are precious and to be sought after. I find that I do not need as many true friendships asIi once thought I did. I surely make sure to pay my note on my friendship with you, magpie!
Also, I want to say that it is important to be your own friend. It is near impossible to make friends outside of your home if you are not comfortable with yourself. Picky people need not apply!
I do agree Madam, that if we are not our own friend we can neither make new friends nor appreciate the ones we have. Apparently there is much more to be said on this subject!
Very thoughtful and spot on, Have been thinking lately about friendships that seem to survive long periods of no contact and pick up with little effort when the folks involved chance to see each other…Haven’t teased out what the key elements are…shared history, big live events, ?? Thoughts?
Thank you so much, Miss Jane! You pose a fascinating question. It seems to me that with some people we have a deep knowing, like an imprint, so that when we do see them they are still just as familiar to us. I wonder if there is any research?
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