the value of friendship?

I sent part of this afternoon going through my old portfolios. For the most part, looking at old art I’ve made or other people have given me kindles alternating feelings of warm smiles and embarrassed grimaces. The most fun in looking at old artwork is that I see great ideas with highly mediocre execution, so I am tempted to re-visit some of the things I was trying to do. I am also fairly impressed that my art teacher managed to keep me out of psychiatric care in high school.

Some of the things filling up my portfolio were posters I had on the walls in college, and a conglomerate of letters I had pinned to a large wood panel. The letters came from various people over the course of five years, and they are filled with sentiments that I felt, at the time, made them worthy of saving. It was interesting to look at the letters I’d received from Liu Xing, who I’ve fallen out of touch with. I love the little comics and antics, and copies of paintings he sent me, and it makes me pretty sad to see how far we drifted during my last year in Shanghai. I get really frustrated when I can’t get past miscommunication with a person and it leeches into other friendships. I look over his letters, and his encouragement and support, in addition to his excitement at opening up a new phase in his own life, and I feel inspired but sad because I see all the things I really admire about him, and know that even if we lived in the same city he wouldn’t necessarily say hi.

The other letters I had came from Doug, and I hadn’t realized how much he wrote to me after he left Hampshire. That all dropped off sharply once he got to the Adirondacks, but he started writing little bits again once he got to Edinburgh. Again, friendly enough letters filled with little quips and witticisms that make me sad that I don’t hear from him anymore. I hear about him once in a while, but I don’t hear from him.

I know people drift in and out of our lives, I know that’s the way things are meant to work, but I can’t really face the idea of walking away from someone I care about. Their story isn’t over, though sadly it seems my involvement with them is.

I’m coming up against this in an e-communication way this week as well. I’m going to help a friend film in Brooklyn and wanted to crash on a floor or at least spend a little time with some old friends who live in the NYC area, but that’s all falling apart, as everyone’s life is in full force. It’s just bad scheduling, I know that, but I still get those pangs of “We’ve moved on and don’t have time for you anymore.” I find myself wondering if I’m the only one still attached to friendships or if they’re just past interactions that no longer hold currency.

Those are the little pangs that make me terrified to forge new friendships, wanting to keep new people at a safe distance where it won’t matter so much if they drift away. In the same way that I don’t trust people to actually constructively change in order to improve the environmental situation, I don’t trust them as friends. It’s hypersensitivity on my part, but letting it go carries the burden of letting go of the value of friendships.

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