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?