Monday, May 12, 2008

Thank You For Being A Friend

I have had to fire a friend. It has been a while ago now, and I don't regret it. It was a difficult decision but the right one.
I think in the first part of life we make friends based on availability more than compatibility. Most kids in the first few week of kindergarten have a "best friend." Probably someone of the same gender in the same class. Someone who is there for recess and lunch time. Maybe even someone that actually lives within blocks but in your five year old life, you hadn't ventured that far. Most of our friendships progress along similar lines, school mates, kids we go to church with, the children of our parent's friends. If you are very fortunate, you and your friend will grow into a true friendship based on true devotion to one another and your shared experience. Other friendships will simply drift apart without anyone really ending it. You'll bump into each other in the mall and be happy to spend five minutes catching up with your former "best friend."
In the early days of learning to be friends, we think these friends will be with us forever. We swear eternal loyalty and infinite trust. And we mean it. I had many wonderful relationships in high school with people I really did love at the time. I laughed with them and looked forward to every day to just be with them. The day after graduation I never saw most of them again. Twenty three years after graduation I don't see any of them. I couldn't even tell you where they live, if they ever married or if they died between then and now. They were there; in my Algebra class, on the same lunch period, riding the school bus or trying to be invisible with me during gym. But when Algebra, cafeterias, school buses and dodge ball ended we had no further reason to be together.
On the other hand, some of us have had the same friends for almost our entire lives. My friend Sue is still close to the five girls she grew up in school with. My sister keeps in touch with some of the kids from her youth. My best friend in kindergarten through second grade was Dawn. I haven't talked to Dawn in years but we reconnected when she was a bridesmaid in my wedding and I know I could track her down today if I needed to. It is one of those friendships that drifted apart gently and without hard feelings.
And then there is the friend I fired.

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