Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Friendship That Almost Never Was

My friend got married last night.

I know, it isn't news that my friend got married. It's news that she is my friend. I say that because I thought I killed any chance at friendship with Leah the first day we met.

But last night we danced, as close friends. I leaned over and whispered "remember the first day we met, when we were working on xyz project?" She nodded. "I was so snobby to you that day." She nodded again.

I originally met Leah at work. I wasn't pleased to have her work with me, and I'm afraid I made that perfectly clear. The first day she was there, we had a project to work on. It was complicated and difficult, and it would have been easier to do it myself than train her in and do the project simultaneously.

I'm sure she sensed my resentment. And I know she noticed me texting all afternoon. But I hope she doesn't know that I was texting about her. I was complaining to everybody I could think of that my new coworker was a total MP. After all, I texted, who comes to work with her hair all fancy and a full face of makeup.

It's been almost two years, yet I still remember being horrified at her fancy looks, annoyed by her over friendliness, and frustrated at her lack of experience.

But looking back, it's really kind of funny. Had I not started the day with a lousy attitude and a disgusting amount of self centeredness, I might have realized that I was intimidating. I had been there for forever, I knew everything there was to know about the job, and everyone knew it.

And perhaps, had I bothered to think of anything other than myself, I would have realized that her fancy clothes, fancy hair and full face of makeup was a desperate attempt to impress me.

Years later, after months of friendship and many a day seeing Leah's mode of dress, I can laugh about the way Leah started wearing her hair in a pony, little or no makeup, and even slinky skirts pretty soon after that day.

And it is only now, after hours of conversation, after many late nights spent shmoozing, that I can acknowledge the bond that we share, that I can admit that Leah is one of the most interesting conversationalists I've encountered in a while.

It wasn't until my drive home from Leah's wedding that I thought about the way things might have turned out. I could have continued to be a ridiculous snob. We could have turned into a pair of coworkers that merely tolerated each-other, instead of close friends.

Alls well that ends well, I told myself, in a desperate attempt to validate my actions and placate my guilt. But it didn't work. Because a happy outcome doesn't mitigate the problem.

Imagine a scenario where the unfriendly feelings stayed. She would have spent her days feeling a mixture of resentment and probably anger at my attitude. I would have continued on my path of annoyance, frustration and snobiness. When I finally quit, we would have exchanged a polite goodbye, never to speak to each other again.

And last night, she would have gotten married, only I wouldn't have been there. I probably wouldn't even know the event was taking place.

Here's the part that bothers me most of all. Had this scenario played out, neither of us would have ever known what we were missing, what could have developed.

And that makes me wonder. How many friendships have I killed? How many people do I consider mere acquaintances, when they could have been good friends?

I don't think we can ever understand the consequences of our actions, but sometimes life gives us reminders. If a bad mood and negative attitude almost killed a great friendship, imagine what a nasty comment might do. We never know what the future holds, but thinking about it might just help the outcomes.


hillelKAPS said...

That is an amazing post. Very few if any people make such a chashbon in their own minds. It really is an amazing observation

aminspiration said...

I often think about all the people out there that i dont know, that if i did know them and had the tine to nourish the relationship, we probably would be good friends..but thats not possible so i thank Hashem for the amazing friends i am blessed to have.

English Major said...

I find it sad that it needs to be said that one should be nice to everyone. Never mind if a potential BFF will be lost; even if you will never see that person again. I thought that's what Jews do.

hillelKAPS said...

@English Major, however sad you might think it is, nevertheless it is something that needs to be remembered for the typical person. In our day and age this is not a thought process that is followed through on a daily basis

Data said...

For future reference, it seems that if I want to be friends with you, or even get a friendly hello, I can't have makeup on or do my hair, since I'm doing it to specifically annoy you. Good to know.

hillelKAPS said...

@Data um not sure if you're just messing with her, or didnt get what she was trying to point out.....

aminspiration said...

Again, the need for sarcasm font, from my understanding of Data, that looked like heavy sarcasm followed by a ;) but maybe thats just my interpretation.

MiriamS said...

Thanks for the introspection. Reminds me of a social situation in my little Jewish community. There are a large number of families who are buddies from before - old neighbors, school friends, etc., and most live in the bigger houses.

One of the husbands in that crowd comes off very arrogant, makes jokes at others' expense. Not our speed at all. So I made certain assumptions about his wife, basically that she's also a snob. One day she gave me this amazing compliment about having things together (things that matter, not hair etc.) - funny because I think it was the first time she ever spoke to me! Definitely shifted the relationship from avoidance to something positive.

It's still a struggle for my husband and me not to feel "outside" this particular crowd - we are quite friendly with about half of them, yet some are the type that never say hello on the street, talk with only their friends even when right in front of others, etc. - really more a factor of personality.

I think many of us get confused - and turned off - when trying to read others' vibes.