Friendship, honesty…these can be tricky things. Definitions taken for granted. But I find that sometimes using the same vocabulary does not mandate the same meaning


Facebook’s use of the word friend illustrates my point. I have over 200 “friends” on facebook…most of which I would withhold that title without the clarifying facebook friend. Because for me friendship conveys an intimacy that facebooking does not mandate.


And it isn’t that I don’t care anything for these people, quite the contrary – I have real affection for many. But for me, friend has always held a deeper meaning, connotes responsibility and deliberateness that reading status updates doesn’t require.


Last night I spent time with an old friend. And once again I was confronted with the definition of friendship in all its transitory and changing meanings. I realized that the definition morphs in and out of itself even within my own head, my own heart.


The only constant in life is change. And friendships, like everything else, change. But even as I know this as truth, even as I have experiential understanding of the concept, I still find myself conflicted by the concept.

How can I call someone who was once at the core of who I am, but who I have so little contact with in any earnest way now, be called friend? How can someone I realize I didn’t necessarily know the way I thought I knew him – hidden aspects of who he was emerging now to leave me questioning – be someone for whom the moniker friend fits best?


But somehow it does.


I can only gather that the common thread is love. And maybe my mistake is in trying to capture and separate out the contexts and nuances of love. How much and to whom it is given…the whys and the how of it. Because in reality, those things shift and change…


I think maybe I have used friendship as my love word. It has allowed me to giving something very special without having to name it such…in fact by calling you my friend I am sharing my love.


And although it would seem that love would be a far more complicated concept, I find I am beginning to understand my friendships better looking at them through this lens.


My parents have told me and my sister that while they have always loved us, sometimes they didn’t like us very much. There is fairness and honesty I find in that statement. It lends the unconditional boundlessness of love without the absurdity that love somehow means adoring every thing about them…or even knowing everything about them.


Last night I felt confused leaving my old friend. I thought about all the years we’ve been in each other’s lives and questioned the title he held for so many years – my best friend – the person who knew me better than myself. Learning that what I knew of him was filtered and edited left me feeling abandoned and betrayed somehow. But now, I’m coming to grips with the reality that friendship, like volunteer, or griot, or program coordinator, is just a title. If I tell stories or render aid or…love…calling me something else doesn’t make it any less true.


Facebook friend or friend outright matters less when I recognize love is the thing I’m trying to convey.

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1 Comment on titles

  1. Lizzie says:

    I cried reading this. I can see you feeling this and hear you saying it…..I love when you find your words, even more so the way you put them together.

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