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Etymology: Middle English frend, from Old English frEond; akin to Old High German friunt friend, Old English frEon to love, frEo free
1 a : one attached to another by affection or esteem b : Acquaintance
2 a : one that is not hostile b : one that is of the same nation, party, or group
3 : one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)
4 : a favored companion

~ from m-w.com

I’ve been musing on the concept of friends and (of course) friendship lately. I’m not one to have a large circle of people I call friends. I have more now than ever before, but I would still have trouble filling the table with 16 people at my annual Feast – and some of them would be new acquaintances.

What makes a friend? To some degree, it’s a person who I can talk to. Likely, when we’re getting to know each other, we can talk for hours. Whether chatting online or sharing a beverage in person, we talk. Agreement is not necessary (although we can’t disagree about everything, that becomes tedious). Having different backgrounds can be exciting. A different set of experiences is vital (otherwise, it’s not a conversation, just a series of yes statements.)

A friend has something more, something almost intangible. Perhaps it’s the refreshing honesty of knowing that there is a person who will tell you when you are wrong, not being spiteful about it, just matter of fact. Moreover, it’s a person who is willing to go with you to make amends, and help you figure out how to not repeat the mistake. A friend can be the revealing mirror that encourages our betterment. They aren’t like family (with their occasionally overly irritating ability to remember details you hoped were long forgotten), nor are they therapists.

I am watching a close friendship of several years reach its conclusion. The end began somewhere around 18 months ago and I don’t know what or how… the post-mortem has not yet begun. Nevertheless, the patient is on the table and extreme measures are required to resuscitate and revive. My friend has been through extraordinary changes in this time and when I look back, I see that those changes obscured our increasing distance.

What is doing it in, however, is that it turns out that to continue our friendship I have to maintain a close relationship with the spouse. Not necessarily hard to do as we’ve know each other even longer, but she is so angry with me she can not express it, except through my friend. I’m caught in a weird game of telephone where every interaction I have is copied (or repeated) to the other party and one person speaks for both, but the silent partner holds more power than the other two combined.

edit: I realize (after the post and a few hours) that my being ‘public’ with this is an attempt to break the cycle. Its not the best choice (I could always call them and say “now or never, lets talk this through”), but it is what I am doing at this time and in this place. I’ve written, I’ve responded, I’ve stated my willingness to work it out. I’ve even said that I think it CAN be worked out (which is pretty optimistic given how little I actually know about what’s going on).

edit: And, in this very moment I realize: I’m putting this on the line. If my friendship means something to the others involved, its time for them to put out (to be crude). If you have something to say: say it. Otherwise, shut up and go away. Stop playing games and be an adult. Friendship takes more than one person. I am part of the dynamic, and I could have done better, but our distance is not my fault. And every day that you put off talking to me and with me, that distance grows.

I have no desire to ‘get between’ the two of them. I just wish I could have my friend back. Or be given the courtesy of an honest interaction rather than this game.

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