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!


Detail Medic said...

Well put. I had a similar conundrum in one of my posts. I think if you share the same values and care about one another, communication doesn't have to be constant. I talk to my college roommate about 5 times a year and it's like we just talked yesterday each time. I'd drop everything to do whatever I needed to for her and she would do the same for me. If the friend is a big 'ole mooch...drop 'em!

Mrs. Monkey said...

Wow, I'm dealing with a friend who is very off in the scale of friendships. Small example, when I'm ready, she pulls up and honks, I run out, we go. When she's ready, I pull up, wait in her house for 15minutes. Then she says she's ready again, go out to the car, wait another 15 minutes for her to come out. Get in the car, and she's got an errand to run before we can get on the way...

But that's only ONE example of a million things like that. But, sometimes, just sometimes, I get something from this friendship that keeps me around. The good times are pretty darn good. And the connections she has in town make it worth the frustrations. Sometimes.

But in the end, a REAL relationship, between two adults, should average out in the end to close to 50/50.

And the ways people communicate aren't as important as the fact that the DO communicate.

Hope that helps...

Oh, and I'm back, but attempting anonymity. Someone really freaked me out a long time ago, so your friendly local nurse has been shy'd down a lot! It's been so long I'm not even sure you remember me!

elay said...

about the letter-writing part - i mourn the loss too..
we're moving so fast now, thanks to emails and technology. there was a different kind of fun in receiving snail mails - the pen and paper and stamp stuffs. And the waiting - it could drive you crazy! but nothing could compare to the thrill when you finally get the envelope in your hands..and there's a difference when you see someone else's handwriting, i think that in a way, they say something about the person.

even snail mail postcards are more exciting than electronic ones.there's some personal touch in it.

i used to exchange letters a lot with friends way back, and those letters are still in the attic in the house where i grew up. I could read them anytime when i go back and feel nostalgic about those times, laugh my heart out when i think about the things we did..

you can also do that with emails, read them again if you want to..but sooner or later you just have to delete them for more space. or print them on paper if you want, but i think the electronic print is boring.

you're right - its a lost art. with the advent of technology, il postino is going to lose his job one of these days..

Greybeard said...

Did I once ask you if you were an ER nurse? If so, yes, I certainly remember you, and I hope your anonymity works for you!
(Mine is less and less possible.)

I also have an "attic" full of old letters that I wrote home while I was in Viet Nam. One of these days when time is not an issue I'll open them and take that trip down memory lane!

And saving emails? Better print out those that are important! Twice now I've had laptops completely give up the ghost, so I lost everything there.
(I know, with expert help and lotsa $$$$ that stuff can be saved.)
But it's a great idea to print out those you know will have meaning in years to come.

Andrea Shea King said...

The care and feeding of relationships... your post has me thinking about this. Some friends come and go, there for a part of your life when there's some connection. Then there are others who are there for your whole life, and though time passes between "visits", you can just pick right up where you left off.

And then there are those friendships that are so special they are precious, and any tending to them is done without thought to self.

Now, when you're thinking after a while that you're not getting your fair share out of the friendship, it's time to evaluate, and maybe move on.

Bottom line: people in your life bring different things to it. The trick is figuring out what each brings, and trying to not expect anything more.

Does that make sense?

P.S. I agree about the handwritten letters... there's something about seeing a person's handwriting that says so much about him or her that goes beyond what's written on the page.