Atta Ikede

July 3, 2008

Keeping in touch

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 4:50 pm

I remember having dinner with somebody a few days before I left Toronto and they asked, “but won’t you be sad to leave your friends?” to which I replied, “no, i’ll make new ones!”.

I have made new ones, but this post is about old ones.

It’s been said before: it’s always interesting who you keep in touch with after you move away / finish school / change jobs, etc.

When you’re in a certain environment, the rich shared experience facilitates the bond. Once that environment is gone, because you’ve left, or they’ve left, sometimes there’s nothing left to be shared. Talking about the old days might be fun for a few months but even that gets boring after a while. At the same time, there might be one or two people who surprise you with how they stick around in your life, even after that shared experience has long passed.

We’ve probably all had this experience at one time or another.

All these other people that I’ve known, that I’ve shared things with, who have shared things with me, that I’ve now left behind in Ontario. It’s weird … I don’t keep in touch with many of them and am surprised with who I do keep in touch with.

The problem is, there really is nothing to say. What do we talk about? “Californians seem to be obsessed with avocados. They popup everywhere! I hate avocados. I’m always picking the darn slimy bits out of my sandwiches and crepes.” That’s the kind of thing I have to say. It’s what’s on my mind. But people aren’t interested in that! They want to know stuff like what’s up, what’s new, etc.

Let’s face it. Most of our lives are very mundane! We wake up, go to work, maybe do some stuff after work, come home, do housework, go to sleep. Repeat. Then weekend comes. Then we laze around, maybe sit on a patio, drive around somewhere, go to sleep. Weekday. There’s nothing really “new” going on.

All the fun stuff is usually in the details of those mundane things. LIke .. yeah, I walked to work, and stopped at McDonalds for a pancake breakfast. It was really yummy and I want to go there every week!

I guess the problem is that most people from back home only want to keep in touch periodically. Maybe we email each other once a month or something .. or call occasionally. But then I feel like there’s nothing to say because the time period wasn’t long enough for something big to have happened, but it was too big to get into the small things and be able to have fun with them. Like oh, you were going to get a haircut, did it work out, and yeah, i trimmed my own bangs and went to work looking like a nitwit.

I was thinking about it, and I realized what should have been obvious … the people who keep in touch with me the most are the people who make time for keeping in touch. Whether it’s cuz I’m a good friend who they make time for, or I’m not that good of a friend but maybe we message each other when we’re at work, or we just talk so often that we can keep up chitchat about various things .. there’s some regular contact that keeps the thread going. But it’s a little bit sad when somebody who is a good friend doesn’t make time, because maybe they take the friendship for granted and figure we dont have to keep in touch to still be friends. Or maybe it’s an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, I don’t know.

A week or two before I left Toronto, I had a conversation with a really good friend of mine from university. During that conversation, she told me, quite earnestly, that she was scared that after I moved away we’d become strangers to each other like how her parents were strangers with the people who were their buddies during university. “I don’t want us to be strangers, <my full name>!”. Naturally, these types of discussions tend to become a bit emotional and we was not immune. After we recovered, I told her that we’d never be strangers, because I wouldn’t let that happen. I said that one person always has to make a decision not to let the other person go, and so long of as one of us promises that, we’ll be ok. I made my promise.

In that particular case, I think it’s been working out ok. We’ve both changed a lot, and moved on to different things in life and now even different places, but I guess we’ve held on to each other and it works.

But what about everybody else? I promised my old university buddy that I wouldn’t let her be a stranger, but I didn’t have a talk like that with most of my other friends. I feel kind of guilty though, because I really believe in that pep talk I gave my friend .. why didn’t I mentally promise that I wouldn’t let myself be strangers with any of my other friends? Should I be calling them every week, trying to keep up??

I’m reading this book called Psychology of Influence. It’s a well known book and I bought it because I needed to top up my shopping cart to quality for free shipping on a highly rated travel mug on amazon.com. One of the things it talks about is the principle of reciprocity and how important it is. If somebody mails you a christmas card, you usually mail one back because you feel obligated to do so. Not everybody feels this obligation, but many of us do, and so it becomes a social norm.

That’s how I feel about this friendship stuff. I guess it’s true… if I feel like some people have been my good friend, then I could have made a mental promise to myself to not let us become strangers to each other after I left. But then .. they could have said something to me to the same effect that my university buddy did. But in these cases, since they didn’t say anything, and I didn’t decide anything, looks like the relationship is fizzling out and that will be ok.

In a way, I guess that’s a little depressing, but in another way, i think it’s liberating! People change …. It’s normal that some will be treasured forever but others slip away.

I am definitely not writing this post about any specific incident or individual. I’m very glad that you are my friends and are reading this blog. Thank you.

I guess I’m just writing it because I was talking to a new friend the other day about how she always talks about Seattle and her old life there, even though she and her bf moved to the bay area TWO YEARS ago! When I asked her about it yesterday, she said that yeah, she’s found it really hard to let go of Seattle because she hasn’t been able to make a new life here as rich as the old one there. I guess my life here isn’t quite as rich as my old one was either, but I guess the pros outweigh the cons for me and I’m happy enough to not be clinging to my old life, but for her it’s been a bit trickier. (I told her it’s cuz she lives in Oakland. hehe.)

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2 Comments »

  1. to me, I always think that one good friend is better than 10 hi/bye friends. A a good friend always keep in touch! Even if you don’t talk everyday, whenever you talk again, it feels like you were never apart. Not sure if this make senses to you… but… just my thoughts.

    Comment by picnic buddy — July 3, 2008 @ 10:13 pm

  2. I agree with the post above. As you know I am certainly not one for small talk and always truly enjoy talking to you after a long period… when we have something to talk about!! BTW… what IS your phone number now?!?

    Comment by Lisa — July 22, 2008 @ 3:15 pm


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