Do you ever think about the circles of your friends? How the circles shrink and grow and morph over time? I do.
How consciously do you work to expand your those ever-important circles?
So I was talking to a Luther, a male friend, about how I find myself in mid-life with mostly female friends. I'm a gay man. Nothing wrong with any of that. They're great friends. And many of my female friends are single women in the arts -- so we have things in common.
But I used to have a larger collection of male friends. Many of them were gay. What happened? Well, the AIDS crisis took some of those who should rightfully be living beside me today. So there's that. Some others found life partners. And of course any friendship can end with time. Someone moves away. Someone stops keeping the ball rolling on their end. Arguments happen that can't be resolved. And that special chemistry between friends can one day disappear for no reason. You are no longer necessary to each other. Things run their course, and there's nothing wrong with that.
"Did you count me? Among your male friends?" Luther asked, the man I mentioned above. He is a straight friend who I encountered many moons ago in a shyness clinic, and then later he wound up working freelance at my day job. We both share a passion for writing and movies and laughter. Truth is, he's almost a close friend.
"Sure," I lied. "I counted you with my male friends."
"I don't believe you. My feelings are hurt," he mock-pouted.
The truth is when I'm talking about people in my inner circle, my close friends, I'm talking about people I see in person or call once or twice a week at least. People I have bonded with over time. People I can call in the middle of the night. We play a vital role in each other's lives.
Luther is a good friend. But weeks can go by without seeing each other, without a phone call or email. So maybe that's why he didn't pop into my head.
My innermost circle are people I would find it hard to live without. We play a crucial role for one another, have weathered storm together. We are not friends of convenience. (Names have been changed.)
*** MY INNER CIRCLE includes the following. The list is not a complete one:
-- A.N. is a woman who used to live nearby in Chicago. But now that she's out of state, we talk on the phone more than ever. We are both single and creative. We've gone thru many crises together. We have chemistry. We've known each other about 20 years continuously.
-- H.L. is a woman who used to live in Chicago too, but she now resides in a nearby state. She often visits Chicago. We known each other, off and on, for about 20 years. Our chemistry has blossomed with time. Our passions are closely aligned with literature and philosophy and laughter.
-- S.S. is a woman who has become a fast friend. We both work as pro cuddlers and got to know each other as I designed her website. She lives in California and we try to keep in touch. I've known her about 3 months.
-- J.M. is a Chicago gay man who is now partnered. We are supportive of each other and always find time to go out for pancakes on a Sunday morning, check out a movie now and then. He is someone I trust. I've known him about 10 years.
-- G.C. is a Chicago gay man who co-leads a meetup group with me. We have a mutual interest in healing and scary movies. We are supportive of each other's business ventures. I've known him about 2 years.
Have you ever tried to name your inner circle? How has it changed over time and why has it changed?
Beyond my inner circle of close friends, there are circles that are not necessarily intersecting. These are people who are from the following groups: co-workers, writers, love interests, Buddhists and LGBT folk.
And most importantly, there are a handful of people I'd like to get to know better. To maybe add to my innercircle if we find we are a good fit. Many of them are people I've met through work, or through common interests, or by chance.
Finding a true new friend is a lot like falling in love. Chemistry is crucial. We must be flexible to adjust to each other's wishes. We must have a vivid enough imagination to see a future together.
Okay, it's your turn, Gentle Reader. Discuss. Share. If you like.