Monday, March 16, 2009

Dissimilarity and the Need for Friends

It's another lovely day in Streeterville. The Mini tells me that it was 59 degrees at the Outpost, and it's 49 degrees at the lakefront. The view from the 14th floor doesn't give a damn. It's blue above and blue below as well. The afternoon shadows of the high rises are taking hold on the lake. No reason for complaints at all.

It's that time of the year in Chicago when it's as they say, "cooler by the lake." If you're thinking literally, then damned straight it's cooler by the lake, 10 degrees cooler. If you're thinking figuratively, then hey it's always cooler by the lake, to the nth degree. Wouldn't live anywhere else.

An old roommate recently found me on Facebook. He was a roommate in college and for a while post-college, before our life paths sent us in different directions. We once had an act we performed at parties, and anywhere anyone would let us. I couldn't play guitar, but I could sing. He could play guitar and his singing was suspect. Eventually our musical tastes directed him to people with more similar tastes and I somehow became an actor. He stuck around the old home town, and I left the state to attend grad school. He's still there and several cities, locales, and umpteen thousands of miles later I have found myself a home in Chicago.

Sometimes it's a wonder how we find our friends. Kit and I obviously had very little in common. He had a love for the country and big dogs. I had a love for great big cities and I loathe dogs. I've had cats my entire life. He had a love for country and folk music. I have a love for rock, blues, and jazz. We could not be more dissimilar and yet we became fast friends. And he reached out and found me via the internet 30 years since we last talked.

When Kit asked to friend me on Facebook, I went to his Facebook page and found that he had exactly one friend, besides me. He had no photo posted. I felt a little sad for him, but why? He gave me an e-mail address that was the e-mail address for a band he was playing in when I left the state over 30 years ago, and he asked for my e-mail address so he could send me something. I sent the guy an e-mail and waited. I don't think he has a photo posted on Facebook yet, and he didn't send an e-mail for a week or so.

Finally this past weekend I received three e-mails from Kit. There was no text in these e-mails, just 3 MP3 files sent as e-mail attachments. I downloaded the attachments and transferred them to a CD. Today I listened to the CD. It was Kit, the Kit I know, the side of him that everybody loves, the musician. After 30 years, his guitar playing is a bit more refined, a lot of the music is instrumental, and the songs with lyrics, well they're a lot better than they used to be 30 years ago. He's learned to work with the voice he has. The lyrics are a bit more refined. I couldn't help feeling, though, that some of the instrumental pieces were crying out for some lyrics. But then again, that's just me. My life is chock full of words. His is chock full of music.

Today I got an e-mail from Kit and it was one short paragraph. It said something about there being a great many changes in the last 30 years and he had sent me some music, and he'd never been much of a writer. He told me that, "I usually prefer to talk face to face or ear to ear, but I'm getting the hang of this e-mail and texting. Got to go now." And that was the end of the e-mail. I had to laugh.

I have a life where a great deal of my communication is electronic. I write and I write. When I started this blog, I was told to keep it short. It turns out that I'm not very good at that. Words R us. I hold 4 separate e-mail accounts for different purposes and to interact with different categories of people, businesses, etc. When I encounter new people to interact with I always go through a categorization process where I decide which account to assign them to.

Here I am this guy who lives and dies by the written word, and my old friend Kit can't find a way to write more than a paragraph. He sends me an album length MP3 file, however. It's what's important to him and so he masters the technology, as we all do. When I look at my friends over the years, I find that a great many of them are quite dissimilar to myself. I wonder why and the answer that comes to me is that we all need friends. Friendship is not about being alike as much as it is about acceptance. If you can accept me and I can accept you, then we can be friends and God we'll have a lot to talk about. Now if I can only get Kit to talk to me in some way other than his music, and hope he masters e-mail. It's so much cheaper than phone calls and traveling the hundreds of miles that separate us.

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