Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

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You Only Get What You Give

Hmm...lots of ruminations lately about friendship and the nature of friendship.  Not just on LJ, but elsewhere in my world (mornblade  wrote me up as his best friend.  It's really interesting when you see how you are viewed through others' eyes).

I'm reminded of the strange nature of friendship.  It's not so much that I find friendship odd, it's what is considered to be the basis of friendship.  For example, my office had a temp come in for the last couple of days.  She had been there for a while.  My most immediate coworker, we tease and needle each other in friendly ways or we try to piss each other off.  But there's an element of fun to it.  We're trying to be funny, not mean.  But when this temp is around, that behavior changes.  Suddenly, there's a haughtiness to it, whether talking about how men can never handle what women do (my personal favorite is how they told me to my face, "Men can't multitask".  If they knew half the shit zipping through my mind at any given moment...wait, maybe it's better that they don't) or Peter The Loser with his computers or whatever.   And when the temp is gone again, it'll be back to SOP.

I just shrug.  I mean, she's a work acquaintance, but I hardly regard her as a friend.  I was never entirely sure I could trust her enough to consider her a friend.  And her behavior proved me right.

You have to keep in mind that, because of my family, friendship is not just people I have similar interests with.  I have only a few friends, and I've had them for years.  Sociologically speaking, I have built a Family Of Choice.  Blood means nothing, bond is everything.  They are people that I know I can count on.  I can think out loud in front of them or say things that I might not realize, in the spur of the moment, might be construed in a way I did not intend and they won't react that way (Mornblade in particular.  Other than my teacher, he knows the most about my religious beliefs and experiences.  I keep them to myself because I worry other people might think some of the stuff is nuts.  I mean, if I heard someone tell me some of the stuff I believe or have seen, I'd think it was nuts.  But he reacted with interest and understanding.  He may not believe the same thing I do, but he doesn't think my ideas are wrong per se.  By way of contrast, a co-worker years ago, when I mentioned I was Christian, said she thought I was an Atheist because "You're too smart to be a Christian".  Nope, not someone I want to share my innermost thoughts with).  My friends and I give each other shit all the time, but it's done to fuck with each other and be funny, not to establish a pecking order.  Not that this makes me a superior person.  Put me in the right environment and I can be just as cruel and nasty and catty with my comments as anyone else.  But it's just not my default impulse.

One of the key things about friendship/Family Of Choice is that the friendship is simply there.  True, like mentalities gravitate towards each other, but that doesn't guarantee friendship.  There are lots of people that I think should get along and they don't for whatever reason, and I see plenty of people (not the majority, but enough that it doesn't surprise me) that are radically different and act like brothers.  You don't control whether or not anyone loves you.  (In high school, the girls and guys who would hover around their love interests to keep them from straying always seemed kind of rum to me.  What's the point if you have to remind someone that they love you?  It should be first nature to them.)

I suppose this is reflected in my writing.  I do believe what we write is a reflection of us, our thoughts, our dreams, our values, not just storytelling.  Lots of people make sure to give their central character a love interest/sexual partner, to the point where that characteristic is oftentimes the only thing defining that entity (how many long suffering girlfriends exist in popular media?).  Thinking about my projects, all my characters have these Families Of Choice.  My first novel, the central character, a brain, becomes friends with a guy with a jock-like mentality.  Their personalities just clicked.  The unpublished Genotype Prime, the friendship between the two viewpoint characters and the ones that spring up among other members of the battalion drive the story.  Stress Puppy?  Raff and Holly are clearly friends, even though they occasionally lock horns and you aren't entirely sure they'd ever know each other if it wasn't for work.  Sound Waves?  The comradery between Rhapsody and Melody is not only my favorite part to write and draw, it becomes the lynch pin of a major plot point later.  Project X, the central character is best friends with her boss, to the point where she regards him as her big brother, and he acts that way when the situation is really rough.  Even Quantum Redshift, where the friendship between Rose and Bridgett provides a port in the storm of events Rose is going through.

All those friendships are simply there, people concerned with and who like and respect each other.  It pretty much reflects my mentality, as I have never consciously chosen who my friends are, they just sort of happened.  This is also why I find the concept of things like "male bonding" and "bromance" completely laughable.  They're friends.  Maybe closer than brothers, but it's just how it is, there's no psychological quirk that makes it happen.  (This also makes me really sweat having my characters show affection or concern for each other.  We live in a culture where EVERYTHING has a sexual undertone to it.  Certain characters are seen to have to have some sexual longing or more for each other, nothing else explains their behavior towards each other.  Kim Possible and Shengo.  The two girls on iCarly.  The two leads on Supernatural.  et cetera et cetera et cetera.  I am constantly sweating the blocking in Sound Waves because I don't want Rhapsody and Melody to get drafted into the shoujo-ai camp.  Remember, I'm a Sailor Jupiter fan, and I know aaaaaaaaall about how the Jup/Mercury femslash started.)  The friendships depicted in my works cross class lines, gender lines, ethnic lines, and even entire species (Raff and Holly, Rhapsody and Melody).

It's strange.  Friendship is truly the greatest mystery of life.  Looking for the ideal mate is one thing, but this is something that ostensibly does not have a sexual component to reinforce the bond -- it's either there or it's not.  I'm not saying people should reject friendships because they might not be as deep as they thought.  I'm just thinking that a little more caution is warranted.  A lot of times, the signs are there, and a lot of anxiety can be saved by choosing the right people to open up to and keeping the rest on a need to know basis.
Tags: important life lessons, quantum redshift, sound waves, stress puppy
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