On Friendship

I am sad this morning, for a complex series of reasons. Fortunately, I am preparing for an adventure to Marin with Peaches. I anticipate yuppie spotting, overpriced lattes, and much general mockery. We tend to get into mischief when we are adventuring together, which is one of the reasons, naturally, that I enjoy being friends with her. She’s also one of the most generous, loving people that I know, and truly would walk through fire for her friends.

I’ve been thinking a lot about friends and friendships lately, and the things that I would do and have done for my friends. Although I can be a bit of loner, I really value the friends that I do have…they are a select few, to be certain, but I would go to the ends of the earth for them. And perhaps beyond. If someone would loan me a jet pack.

The etymology of “friend” includes “love” or “beloved,” and I think that’s a good description of friends. I love them. It’s not a word that I throw around (or away) lightly. And once someone becomes my friend…we are, in ’80s parlance, friends forever. It’s not the sort of connection that can be idly dismissed, because if it was, we would be acquaintances. I’ve lived with my friends, loved with my friends, fought bitterly with my friends…but they’ve always been there.

I’ve been thinking over the last few days about the time that the Asian, Kat, and I went out Ward Avenue to have a picnic with sushi and potato chips and Reeds Ginger Brew. Seagulls promptly descended upon us, and we were tossing them potato chips, trying to get them to catch them in mid-air, until finally we got tired of them and I threw a big chunk of wasabi at one of them, and he ate it, although his eyes bulged a bit.

For months afterwards, it seemed like wherever one of us parked our cars, it would get covered in bird poop, some sort of avian revenge for our misdeeds. Two of our cars weren’t even there for the incident, so the seagulls would have no way of knowing…but they did.

At the time, I was working for the bakery, and I would park under a big old pine tree, and every day when I got off work, my blue Ford would be snow white with poop. All the neighboring cars would be spotless, and as I wearily scraped poop off my windshield so that I could leave, the tourists would sort of edge around me, probably wondering what I had done, exactly, to deserve this.

When I got a new car, it was the same…so it was with some glee that I sold it last year. Ah ha, I thought, no more poop for me!

The other day, I went into the City to meet Kat, in my big blue wool coat.

When I got home, there was a big streak of bird poop all the way down the back. A nice electric green runny one.

Some things never change, I guess.

She and I have been friends for exactly half my life. I remember once, in high school, someone was being really mean to her, and we sat in a storage closet together for several hours precisely mapping out his fate, all the way up until his death as a bitter and alone old man. The network for the phone system was in there, blinking and humming away, and I longed to start randomly pulling cords.

Another time, after college, when we made Christmas cookies and decorated them with juvenile ornaments, like priapic gingerbread men and snowmen in bondage. At her family’s annual Christmas party, to which the entire neighborhood is invited, our X-rated cookies were proudly displayed, along with the more conventional ones. I think it was around that time that I adopted her mother as my secondary mom.

Kat and I are only across the Bay from each other. Sometimes when I am wandering the Island late at night caught up in thought, I end up on the Eastern side and I look across the water to Berkeley, imagining that I can see her house from there. It’s usually the wee hours of the morning, so I assume that she’s asleep, dreaming. Perhaps the sudden surge of affection that I feel for her makes her dreams that much more excellent.

Our partner in crime for the seagull adventure, the Asian, lives in Santa Cruz. He comes to visit sometimes and we drink beer on the roofs of abandoned buildings and wonder what is becoming of our lives.

I don’t know what is happening in my life, but I do know my friends will be there for it.