Saturday, June 7, 2008

Friendship-joy Inventory

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Worry and Pleasure

Often, I feel bad that I don't invest in friendships much with anyone other than my partner, Pat. Work and school and commuting take up so much of my time that I don't get to play with friends like I did as a young kid through college. It's kind of like downhill-skiing. I did it a lot as a kid and loved it, but now that I've got premier equipment, I hardly go.

Probably, I'm a more desirable friend than ever, with all the maturity and interesting experience I've gained over my lifetime so far...but I don't want to spend this blog entry, flaggelating myself about my lack of friendship time-investment. Years ago, Pat told me a great point that I recalled often, including now; she learned from a Psychology professor during her Psych. MS program: "At any given time, people are doing the best they can."

So I do want to imagine further what I began thinking about during a commute home the other night: What if I could put together a table of friends from over my lifetime? What if they got to meet one another? Some of them already have met one another, but....I'd love it if all of them took turns, describing to one another how they became friends with me and what I was like as a friend....When else could a scenario like that take place, other than at my wedding or funeral?

They'd start their conversation that way, and then they'd get to know one another and would see further what terrific taste I have in friends!

I wish it didn't take an occasion like that. I'd make a huge table, including the people that I still consider friends, no matter when we last saw one another.

Probably only five of the 57 friends ever read this blog, and yet, I'm worried that I've forgotten to list someone essential....

Selected Emotions that Accompanied Scenes from the Friendships

In Childhood:
Peacefulness: standing on the front-steps of our childhood home, looking up at the towering tulip tree with Deb
Exhiliration: bike-riding to the Dorothy Heroy public pool with Kathy
Splashy joy: swimming in JJ's pool with JJ and her little sister Erica
Pride: discussing Israel Test preparation with Sarah during our school-bus rides

In High School:
Awe: watching Atalia do ballet exercises
Delight: picking a fresh orange off the tree in Israel with my Israeli cousin Nitzah
Anticipation: learning from Susannah how to give tours to school-groups at the Museum of Philosophy in NYC

In College:
Serene excitement: looking at the Chinese art collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Scott
Mystery: planting tulips in nearly frozen ground at Marni's house near Detroit, and then seeing photos of our labor's fruits in the spring
Relief: going swimming five days a week in Jerusalem with Cathy during my junior year abroad

In Early Career:
Playfulness: marching around our Chicago apartments, singing Ma'oz Tsur... during Chanukah with Robyn
Comfort: eating dinner my U.S. cousin Sari during a D.C. business trip
Amusement: meeting Steve for Middle Eastern food during his Chicago business trip
Pure fun: going dancing after a "10% Show" shoot with Jack and some of the production crew
Intrigue: visiting my synagogue-friend Ed in his John Hancock apartment prior to going to a Jewish film festival together
Abandon: reaching out to touch Grace Jones' leg during a concert that Robert, may his memory be blessed, took me to on his 26th birthday
Spiritual fulfillment: enjoying Werner as one of my two best friends at work, though his dad had been a rocket-scientist in Nazi Germany
Pleasant surprise: sitting on the Belmont rocks with Pat at Lake Michigan
Purpose: trading experience with Paul every day during our commute to Schaumburg -- his on artificial intelligence and mine on GLBT community voluntarism
Merriment: delighting in discovering Rob's and my compatible sense of humor during a business meeting in Austin
Love: during our walking-tour of Greenwich Village, David, finding a Daisy-Dukes-hot-pants-wearing-blonde can-holder as a gift I could give to Pat upon my return from my business trip
Adoration: listening to Gerard describe his total love for David at their wedding in Toronto
Self-assurance: setting up the workshop-room at the 1995 International Gay & Lesbian Business Expo with Lyn, where she, with her architecture degree from Princeton, was asking if I needed her to run and get a tape dispenser -- whatever it took to ensure Rob's and my presentation's success
Faith: hearing Mary Alice describe her plan for conquering large health challenges and then her doing so...twice, and also hearing how she established a popular, essentially lesbian, sorority in college more than 25 years ago
Silliness: at the "Adirondyke Weekend," Deb and I sitting across from each other at dinner and laughing non-stop
Pleasure: walking around Mia's and Deb's house with Mia, learning of all the cool ways she opted to design the inside of their home
At homeness: Kathy, reminding my mother of a woman I had a crush on in college, except that in Kathy's case, my mother liked Kathy
Redemption: dancing to fast, '80s pop-tunes with Sheila while pretending that we're in high school still and it's no issue for us to be dancing together
Holiness: being invited to succeed Carol as the Tri-State co-leader of our GLBT employee networking group; I said, "I don't want to lead it," and Carol said, "But it has to be led."
Appreciation: Carmen, always listening so presently always makes me feel beloved
Rescue-sense: avoiding the conference-center bar after-hours at IBM's Global GLBT Leadership Conference in 2003, and having Suzanne, also one of the delegates, who skipped it explain a Catholic concept, "...avoiding the near occasion of sin"
Fondness: AnnaMae, discovering that my birthday was identical to her daughter's and how that delighted Suzanne and her
Kinship: commuting with Jennifer to NYC from Montclair and learning that she had gone with a friend to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival even though she's heterosexual....I had been to it once, in 1987, with my girlfriend at the time, and hadn't loved the experience because I don't love women's music, and so all the more so, I was impressed by her adventuresomeness
Hilarity: Joel, explaining why he would no longer enter a particular synagogue that met in a church, saying that he refused to go back to "Saint Nebbish's"
Gratitude: famous for her ultimate pragmatism and no-nonsense attitude, Kathy was marvelously compassionate when I learned of my otosclerosis
Hope: Julie's creativity thrilled me when I read what she considered an early version of a novel she wrote; if I could have such a talented friend, then perhaps my own talent, if more modest, might shine a bit someday, too, if I labored at it
Relaxation: spending a long afternoon of my vacation, walking down much of the pedestrian path of the Westside Highway to Battery Park with Richard, talking about our lives and dreams.

In Mid-career:
Safety: Joseph, making me feel I'm in funny, stylish, smart, good hands when I'm with him
Glamorousness: attending the GLAAD Awards at the Kodak Theater in L.A. with Mike in 2003
Energy: Jane, dancing during the holiday party at her home a number of years ago to that Country song, "I Feel Like a Woman..."
Ease: Laughing and relaxing over Montclair dinners with Nancy
Amazement: Silvy, letting her daughter Kay splash around in the pool, where I was swimming during my 40th birthday; I looked at Silvy's face for a moment and couldn't believe all the ways that she is active -- as a mother and at work
Entertainment: Sylvie, artfully tucking a pair of oranges into a white napkin that she had fashioned into a bikini-top on our dining-room table, for us to discover after work one evening while staying with us
Privilege: Jim, helping me be a better facilitator at work, since he is a menschlich Master Trainer with marvelous experience, and in parallel, whenever we have enabled each other to laugh hard during our workdays
Adventure: Chitra, finding books with me at the Stamford Public Library's book sale while she was in the States and my book discoveries with her at Blossom Bookstore in Bangalore
Reassurance: Keiko, giving me some Washington State apples she had found in the grocery store when we were on business in Bangkok
Sense of possibility: Linda, encouraging me to apply for a Masters at Columbia's Teachers College; she had just earned one herself
Inspiration: Wendy's many-years survival of an advanced stage of cancer and her positive attitude around it continually impresses and inspires me
Confidence: meeting Radhika while I was in India and becoming friends with her boosted my self-assurance about being able to find and befriend kindred spirits anywhere in the world...and that there could be kindred spirits anywhere
Appreciation: Shalini, giving me gifts prior to my departure from India -- some great earrings from the desert in the north and a wool, patterned shawl -- I saw that she really did enjoy our colleagueship while I was in India and I felt then that I hoped we'd be friends ongoingly
Shelter: Inder, hosting Pat and me for dinner at his family's home in Bangalore, and their maid cooking delicious food
Succor: Dearg, meeting us for lunch on our first afternoon in India, and taking us to a queer film festival at the Alliance Francais in Bangalore
Elevation: Sapna, who's heterosexual, volunteering to help lead the India chapter of IBM's GLBT employee group, saying that she was for anything that helped advance humanity
Happiness: discovering that there was another lesbian, living in my town, working in leadership development like me, with my same name -- and spelled with an "h"
Validation: Sarah's partner Helen, having a Masters in the same field as I'm pursuing mine, and agreeing that it's challenging to pursue a Masters while working full-time
Kinship: My classmate Susan, joining me for dinner after class one night and discovering so much in common despite how differently we have led our lives so far.


Silvy said...

I'm honored to be mentioned in your friendship-joy inventory Sarah!


Sarah Siegel said...

Silvy, thanks for being among the five of the 54 friends, who visits this blog!