I was raised to believe in “making plenty of deposits” in my karmic bank, an expression my Dad has used all of my life. I’ve read that you get what you give, and that what you send out is returned to you three-fold. I suppose in many ways this belief is partly why I do my nightly “was I an asshole to anybody today” apology to the universe. ‘Being good is its own reward‘ was something my Nana used to say and it seems that all of this is related to that whole ‘do unto others‘ Bible stuff…but whether it is karma I fear or not making it to heaven if there is such a place, it seems to keep me on the path to being, well, good.
When I love a friend, I try to be a good one, and I suppose because I want it returned, but also because it does feel good to care about people. I’ve had very few “falling outs” with girlfriends, and of course lots of break ups in relationships or dating that just didn’t grow into something more. Relationships end sometimes and we just keep living and maybe our friends list gets smaller or maybe we try to make new friends, but over time friends come and go, lovers come and go, we fall in love, it ends, we fall in love again…it just keeps on going as long as we keep breathing.
I think it would be egocentric and self-serving to write that I try to be good to people because I want them to be good to me, but in reality, I think it is partly true. When I care deeply for a girlfriend or a man with whom I am sharing my life, I guess I expect those people to also care deeply for me. Boyfriends over the years have let me down far more often than girlfriends. I’ve been “in love” only six times in my life, but I still have the same two girlfriends I have loved for a very long time; one I met on the 1st day of first grade, and the other I met on the first day of spring gym class when I was a freshman in high school. They have been the ones who have shared my laughter and my tears through all my ups and downs, heart-breaks and joys.
I’ve been accused over my life, although I hardly see it as a flaw, of being too Black & White, and to be fair, I have never been particularly fond of all the shades of gray that fall in between. I generally either like something or I don’t, love someone a lot or dislike them immensely, want something desperately or don’t care about it at all…yes black and white is perhaps quite accurate, but friendships have lots of gray areas over time. We go through periods where we talk every day and see each other often or we drift apart for months or even years, we get busy with living and choices and obligations and the amount of effort we put into our friendships becomes minimal.
We choose our friends and we can’t choose our family. My parent’s love for me is unconditional, my child’s love for me is too, and her children’s as well, and whether I’ve screwed up or done right, my family seems to love me no matter what. My girlfriends have put up with a lot more of my “crap” than I have had to put up with theirs, and still, they miss me when they don’t see me and they ask me to make more of an effort to be their friend, to spend some time with them, and so, as it is spring, and spring is a time for renewal, I started last night, by having dinner with my first friend and I plan to have dinner later this week with my second friend. They’ve both asked me over the last couple years, regularly, to please try to make more time for them, and even though I so often have failed to do so, they still seem to love me and their love has proved over time to be unconditional. I chose them years ago to be my friends and I am going to do better, to be a better one.
When the first daughter of my daughter was born, I described the feeling as that “I had no idea I had so much love inside of me” and I have come to believe over these years, as a second granddaughter has come into my life, and now the daughter of the man I love, that my capacity for loving is much greater than I knew. My heart just manages to keep growing, and I guess be it in family, in friendship, or in love, I feel happy that I am a point in life where it is returned to me, repeatedly, from all of them…