Friday, January 8, 2010

Knowing What Matters

I have been in the US for the holidays and for a little business time, doing my usual east coast lap from Ft. Lauderdale to NYC to DC. It’s a familiar route at this point in my life that’s spread around across two continents, two time zones and two languages.

Before I embark on these multi-week schleps, I try to organize coffees, meetings, lunches, cocktails, dinners, chats, gym dates or whatever to catch up with people, organize more work, get some gossip or even get some love (love has many forms, you filthy freakshow).

As you can imagine, this is not only time consuming trying to organize all these type-A people’s schedules (No, I can’t do Wednesday, I have my shrink or well, if the lawyers get back to me, I won’t be able to do 3pm – that kind of shit), but it’s just nuts to actually follow through and do EVERY SINGLE THING you overcommitted yourself to when you were sitting in the summertime and chilling out. But inevitably after three weeks of dragging your ass through the winter, a cold starts to bud, digits are perpetually frozen and a you have a stump speech on what’s been going on that would make an incumbent senator a little jealous.

Truthfully, it’s all lovely: all the friends, all the festivities, all the food, all the memoires. Everyone is happy to see you; you are happy to see them. But there are other people, the people who you once imbibed with countless glasses of fancy wine and canap├ęs who don’t return your calls or your emails. The people who you thought were friends that once you unplugged from the matrix, no longer want anything to do with you. I don’t have tons of these types but there are some people who have mysteriously disappeared from the universe. Hmmm.

When I first started doing these east coast tours and I didn’t hear back from these ghosts, I felt sort of bad. What happened to my friends? Then I realized that these people were never my friends – they were part of the transactional life that has overtaken life in the big city. And now that I can only regale folks with tales of my wacky Argentine life or third world wanderings, I don’t have something they think of as valuable.

The good news is that people I never thought of as particularly close have also come out of the woodwork, becoming good friends even when I am far away. These people have served as inspiration and support and I am more grateful than ever for them.

I no longer feel bad about these spirits that have disappeared. And I don’t even bother sending those emails anymore, I just enjoy my wonderful, amazing North American friends.


Evan Glass said...

I will always make time to kibitz over matzo ball soup!

Unknown said...

what goes better with a kibitz than some MB at Krupins?

Linden House said...


Happy New Year.

I love your blog and especially this topic. So many people are hardwired to engage with "friends" who are important in advancing their personal or professional agendas. Once a particular usefullness disappears; then its Adios Bebe.

It's the folks who engage in the world for authentic connection who really profit. These are the interactions that move mountains, make us laugh until we cry, lend a hand, and are with us for a lifetime or two.

So...let the thin veneered folks go. They were never really there anyway.


Kevin said...

I totally understand the feeling. Although, after three years in Sao Paulo, I also realized that my life is more and more here, and less and less in Washington. The core friends always hang in there, especially thanks to FB and MSN. But we all have a basic orbit in our lives, based on where we are currently living. The fabric of that orbit is always very thin no matter where we are. But you should have a new one in Buenos Aires, no? One day I woke up and realized I had a very good one here in SP, and while you grow wistful for the one you left behind in the previous city, life does march on, doesn't it?

Kevin said...

p.s. LOVE Krupin's.... man do I miss the Jew Food :-D

Unknown said...

Ellen: Thanks for the great reminder!
Kevin: Yes, you are right about a group developing where you physically are. And after a year and a half here in BsAs (on and off), I can see the beginnings of my roots taking hold, meaningful friendships, etc.
I guess for me it is sometimes hard to straddle both worlds and be plunged occasionally into the old world, with people who have been an important presence in your life for so long and realizing they are so far away. But again, just feel lucky to have them via skype, facebook, msn, etc...

And yes, how can you not miss jew food? :)