I grew up with the same group of people for about the first decade and half of my life- we used to spend nearly 7 hours of school-time together, as most kids would. Given the proximity of our relationship, I always imagined we’d see each other through even after school was over, that we’d see each other change and develop into functioning adults. As creatures of ripened imagination, we almost always saw ourselves ‘adulting’ our way through life with convertibles, red heels and styled suits.
With the boys, it was easy enough to imagine how at the ripe old age of 20 (because when you’re 4 feet tall, 12 years old, 20 feels like an ancient rock you’ll never get to) we’d still be climbing over walls to meet each other in the evening and shoot some hoops- living the simple life.
The girls (4 of us altogether) were super close, or at least that’s what you begin to think is the formation of a close relationship – we would talk for hours on the phone, spending some of it in the bathroom doing our business (yes, that close), discussing our futures, crushes, pranks, science projects, the next dance number we would memorize, the Backstreet Boys and their travel plans…
Throughout the summer, we would stick to each other like glue unless someone was lucky enough to travel abroad, in which case we would unstick and then get back with a million exaggerated stories, stickers (we all collected them) and trinkets from our travels.
As close as we were, once puberty hit, I came to the realisation that their values and intrinsic models of operation were very far from what I imagined as the “right kind”.
They picked on people based on their differences – I defended these offenders of the world order, to the point that I completely fell out of the gang and was left to my own devices.
They spent hours gossiping about what X person said and Y person did. I couldn’t handle it and would most often walk out which would result in them spreading some nasty rumour about me. I, defender of the human value system and rights, was exiled into nothingness.
A decade and half years old – I began realising that friendship comes at the cost of giving yourself in to what will be. In to being in the moment and letting the other person give all of what they have to you.
Another decade and half years old – I move to Moscow and am, for the first time, wondering what I need to do and be in order for new friendships to form and last. For the rules of engagement are different here- here, people start off at 0% and they give you nothing. They are cold, calculative, they are testing you to see whether you fit onto their worldly scheme of things and whether you are another person they need in their lives.
This is new and unformed territory for me since I’m used to making friendships off the get go. Perhaps friendships which are deep at a superficial level, but none the less, friendships which form within the first few interactions based on snap judgements – are you intuitive? Do you have a point of view? Are you excited about your work? Is there a fire in your eyes? Will you do whatever it takes to get things done?
I may be exaggerating some, but it feels as though I’m used to a different form of communication – the kind where people come together over dinner and celebrate wins and losses, moving, leaving, birthing, giving, receiving.
The kind of friendships where you know you’re on a timeline and so you make the best of the moment every single time you meet- to a point where each interaction is at a 100%, because between your journalist friend who’s always hovering in the most dangerous cities looking for stories, and your developer friends who spend all their time sitting in their seats, coding, you know your time with people is limited. You know your time is limited not only because of what they’re doing, but also because time is fleeting and ephemeral.
Either way, the kind of interactions I’m faced with today are different on a level I couldn’t have ever thought of – people in Russia expect to see your demons and your darkness first. They expect to see you at your lowest, worst, feeling like garbage and then they decide whether they will choose to interact with you… or not.
People here decide on whether you’re worth their time after having interacted with you countless times. Slow, meticulous, testing is their way.
I fairly retain that this is a good thing.
I’m almost absolutely certain that this is a good thing!
It’s been half a year that I’ve lived here and I’ve yet to connect on a level that is beyond the surface. I’ve yet to figure out what to do about this situation–should one attend to these kinds of questions or let them fester? Or does the smart person just let them slide and take each day as it comes?
Or does one pay no heed, keep doing what one is doing and stride on through life because odds are, eventually something will turn up. It always does.
My hunch is that as soon as we’ve imagined for ourselves the very person we want to be friends with, they turn up, in some form or another. In the mean time, what I hope for myself (and anyone who may find themselves in a similar situation) is to find “my people,” or person.
Someone who will take me in, flaws and all, and be my go-to – the kind of person who you’d call part of the “old boys club,” or in my case, old girls club… The kind that will know when to say what and how and irrespective of how salacious, outspoken, non-conformist or questionable my actions and interpretations might be; the kind of person that will still stick around till 6am, waiting for me to get into a cab and drive off into the sunrise, undressed, unencumbered and unhinged.