10 December 2007
Relationships- The Care and Feeding Of,
I wanta talk about two-way streets... or what OUGHT to be two-way streets.
I admit it freely... I'm a "Rube" at heart!
Go back in the archives of this blog and read some of the stories of my childhood and you'll learn I was perfectly happy staying close to my Central Indiana home. When I was drafted in 1966 I had been out of the State only three or four times. Away from home, all I could think of was getting back... back into my comfort zone.
Of course Uncle Sam changed all that with the draft. He took me away from family, friends, and neighbors. To the degree I could I tried to maintain my close relationships. And the way I did that, mostly, was via letter-writing.
It's a lost art now,mostly because of email but part of the blame lies with cell phones too.
I mourn the loss.
I used to LOVE receiving letters! You could open a letter and sprint through it's contents looking for any surprising or important news, then go back again, (and again, and again) and re-read the words... savoring them, looking for subtleties.
And of course, letters that came from someone REALLY special generally included even more... a scent... and wonderful reminder of times past and times to come. (Mail Call in my early ARMY training was done the way we've all seen it portrayed in movies... A group of GI's gathered around the Company clerk calling out the names and passing the mail to the recipients... AFTER sniffing the letter if it appeared to be from a wife/girlfriend. If the clerk oohed and aahed about the letter, we all smiled and shared in the warm feeling, knowing someone had taken the time to put pen to paper, then scent the letter and get it on the way to their special correspondent.)
I loved letters from home. I knew that if I wrote, the recipient was more likely to write back and answer questions or respond to my comments. So I wrote LOTS of letters!
I wrote to family.
I wrote to girlfriends.
I wrote to buddies.
Girlfriends ALWAYS wrote back. Family would frequently write back. Buddies... not so much. Mostly, guys would wait a period of time, then they'd call.
To me that was cheating. I expended time and effort to gather pen/paper/envelope/stamp and send my thoughts in a material way. Their communcation came in such a way that when the phone was returned to the receiver, all I had left was the memory......No goin' back to review the correspondence. Nothing to save and re-read later, maybe YEARS later and be reminded of what was going on at that time in my life.
I resented it a lot!
I don't know why, but most guys are terrible about communicating! I've been given lots of excuses to explain this fact:
"I can't spell.
My writing looks like 'chicken-scratches'.
I can't express myself well.
I don't have time, (and the corollary... never think about it when I have the time.")
What a bunch of crap!
But I finally learned the rules of the game and gave up trying to change people.
If I wrote you a nice long letter and you returned my communication via telephone, our communicating was over until you called again to inquire about me. No more letters... I won't waste my time.
(An extension of this rule applied to trips home during leave too... if I drove 700+ miles to come home, surely you could drive ten minutes to shake my hand personally, right?)
So now, in another compartment in my life, I'm bein' reminded that relationships are not always 50/50...
I know that and accept it. I've had relationships where I put out 70% versus 30, but when I needed that 30% friend to be there... they were there in Spades! That certainly makes the 70% expenditure worthwhile.
But what if the relationship is 90/10? What if it's 95/5? At what point do you say to yourself, "I'm bein' used here, and I'm not gettin' back the interest I oughta be gettin' on this investment?"
And that's not a rhetorical question, folks.
I really would like your input on the care and feeding of relationships!
Thanks in advance for your response!