Sunday, March 22, 2009

Family, Friends, and the Dividing Line

Two posts in one day?!? Yep, I'm making up for the post I should have put up last night. This one is my take on those special people in our lives: family and friends. Mainly, what happens when friends became pseudo-family, and how some friends often become pseudo-friends. Some say friends are overrated, and you are stuck with your family regardless of whether you like them. Well, the latter may be true, so I encourage you to like them, but having true friends is not overrated it may even be underrated. Keeping that in mind, I value quality over quantity. I'd rather have 5 great friends then 50 mediocre ones. Don't be anti-social, but don't expect everyone to like you, and you shouldn't want that anyways. When you find friends who act like family you've found the right kind.

I love my family. It may sound cliche , or, for some of you, impossible to do. I know every situation is different, but a lot of times forgiveness can fix the problem. However, I lucked out fortunately. My parents are two of the greatest people I know in distinct but equally important ways. They're great at encouraging and unconditional love is an amazing feeling. Aside for them, my brother is one of the coolest people I know. He's my buddy, and I always try to provide a good role model for him to look up to. We talk about everything, especially sports, and sometimes I even learn a thing or two from him. Overall, even when they can be annoying, I wouldn't trade any of them for anyone else in the world. Having said that, I have some friends who are pseudo-family.

Three of my boys are basically brothers. We've done so many ridiculous things, and talked about everything under the Sun. These guys are going to be at the wedding, if it ever happens someday, for sure. If they ever needed help they'd get it, and we don't keep track of who owes who because we've all picked up the tab at some point. I will keep in touch with these guys until they put me in a home, or one of us moves into eternity. Yeah, sometimes they get on my nerves. But at the end of the day it's like nothing ever happened, just like with my family. In addition, I've got a few 'sisters.' These are my girls, and I've occasionally been more like a protective father than a brother. We've had our fights, and an estrangement or two. However, I can't stay mad at any of them, and they've been there for me on multiple occasions. Also, you know what they say, you can't date your sister. I wouldn't consider it, not that these girls are un-datable, but that potentially sacrificing the friendship isn't worth it. It bothers me to see any of them hurt, and some of them have been treated like crap by a guy or two. Next, there are the rest of the guys from high school. We go way back, and these guys form the rest of the crew. We all have been to each others houses, and I've had cool, and different, times with all of them. Some are the backyard football gang, others are the Dunkin' crew, and the rest are a little bit of both. There have been Halo parties, countless night at Joey's, and a good movie or two. These guys are the extended family. Most of the time you love seeing them, but some days you're really glad you don't see them every day and that they don;t live in your house. Then, unfortunately, there are the pseudo-friends. These are people who claim to like you, but only hang out when they want something or as a last resort. Most of the time, these people continuously bum money or insult you in a group. However, then they tend to act very differently in a small group or one-on-one setting. Generally, you always owe them something, according to them, and you often have a hard time figuring out when, if ever, you like being around them. These are the kind of people who sometimes ignore you in public settings if with other friends. Not true friends, they 'forget' to invite you to things and often lie to you. Avoid this kind of person and do not refer to them as a 'friend.' Being at Pitt had taught me a lot about the nature of friendship, while proving an exercise in frustration at the same time.

Last year was an experience. Everything was new. This meant that it was time to make new friends. By the end of the year almost everyone on my floor was an acquaintance, but a select handful were friends. At the same time, I quickly realized some of my so-called high school friends were far from it. This left me in an interesting position. All the girls, I thought were friends, down here, felt betrayed and angry and were no longer talking to me. This was largely due to the actions of my friend, which bothered me and I did nothing about. As a result, I lost that link and never apologized. I would still like to, although this becomes less likely to happen with each passing day. At the same time, I realized most of the guys I would not see again after we left Towers. For the most part this has proved true. Although, many were never friends only people sharing a similar living space. Therefore, it has seemed less united this year, but a more genuine reflection of life. Even so, second semester last year was not good and I was eager for summer. However, summer produced one of the most helpful and least helpful events simultaneously. Due to my actions one of my best friends stopped talking to me. This bothered me, but I was too stubborn to apologize and I felt I had nothing to apologize for. This did enable me to move past something I needed to, but at the same time it left me feeling disconnected. The end of summer was fantastic and I was ready for the start of this year. Little did I know, the fall would prove my most memorable and enjoyable semester. When I arrived back in Oakland it was sweltering and McCormick lacks AC. Regardless, I was so happy to be back I didn't care. I spent a good portion of time before classes at the house of my best friend at Pitt. It was an amazing time and gave me plenty of stuff to do before classes arrived. As classes started I was in a really good frame of mind. However, in the spring semester my spiritual life had suffered, and I knew I needed to find some 'good' friends. Don't get me wrong, the people in my suite are awesome, but they were getting me into a routine I wanted to avoid. Finally, upon taking the advice of two of the coolest, twins, people I know at Pitt, I decided to go to the university ministry, Cornerstone, and find some 'good' friends. Initially, I felt out of place, since I hadn't gone to a Christian group in so long. People were friendly, but I only knew a handful of people, and I hung by myself if they weren't there. Then, Chris, one of the leaders, began talking about the fall retreat. I was hesitant about going, at first, but eventually came to realize I needed to go if I wanted to meet people. As I got in the car, I had no idea what to expect but I was ready. Upon arriving, everything operated in standard retreat fashion. I still felt out of place, but I was glad I came. Later that evening, a friend introduced me to some of the coolest people I've met at Pitt. These guys weren't like most of the Christians I knew. They were into the same things I was, and really held me attention too. In fact, one of them was, maybe, the most interesting person I've met at Pitt. Although, at the time I didn't realize that. However, the rest of the weekend went fantastic, and I came back feeling better than ever. The rest of the semester went from there. Everything seemed to go perfectly, and I thanked God for letting me go on the retreat and meet all those awesome people. By the end of the semester, my enthusiasm cooled off and I was really confused. I figured Christmas break might provide some answers, and I went home ready for relaxation. I didn't really get any, as it was the worst break of my entire life. This was for a variety of reasons, but it left me extremely ready to come back. I arrived back to Pitt on good terms with my friends of high school, but unsure of how things stood down here. It seemed that things were ripe for me to drift from some people. Unfortunately, my fears proved correct, and I tried everything to prevent it from happening. Regardless, things weren't meant to happen, and I had a hard time excepting that. I questioned myself, others, and even God. This led to various stupid childish actions on my part, as well as a variety of misunderstandings and disagreements. Also, I felt like people were avoiding me, which I didn't know why was happening. After a while I figured that maybe my attitude was wrong, maybe I had been responsible for the way things turned out. However, ultimately really I was just scared I would lose these people as friends. Particularly one individual, who I realized after a good deal of time, had quite a lot on her plate. Additionally, I never saw many people I had grown use to seeing, and it felt very disconnecting. As spring break approached,I was once again questioning my intentions and what my direction should be. Then Mere Christianity and my three 'brothers' came to the rescue. Through reading, and a four hour conversation at Dunkin' Donuts, I got my thought process back on track. In addition, I reconnected with some old friends from last year, and have gained a whole new appreciation for them. Additionally, I realized that I hadn't been understanding of some people's circumstances. Yes, things have changed and might not be able to go back to the way they were. However, this doesn't mean friendship disappears. At the same, this doesn't mean there are things I don't miss. I miss talking, and I know why some things no longer happen, but I can't forgot how I felt when they did. I still want to try. I don't like when a great friend seems to become just a friend. Some people are too spectacular to be just one in a million or even one in a billion. I stopped questioning, asking, but not caring. When the time is right, hopefully, things can change. Of course, only if there's a desire from the other person. My friendships never seemed to be lacking, despite any disagreements or situations that arose. Then I finally found a friendship that really meant something. Some sayings bother me, like "you don't know what you've got till it's gone." Although, now it actually means something to me. There are places, times, and events I can't forget. Maybe I'm not suppose to. But I would like to remember them again. I know what's gone, and it isn't an ordinary find. I'd walk it off, but I'd rather have some company. If it's ok of course.

Thanks to all who inspired this. The family, the brothers, the sisters, the extended circle, and everyone somewhere in between. When time runs out I want to see you all standing next to me in eternity.

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