Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Friendship


One of the challenges that you face moving to a new place (and it’s even worse when you move between two new places as we do) is establishing and growing new relationships. People generally call it “making new friends”, but I have always had difficulty with that term. I find there is a huge spectrum of relationships that people call “friendship”, and what suits and is desired by one person may be anathema to another.

Both Comox and Todos Santos experience a large influx of new people each year, and so there are novitiates in both places hungering for new connections. The “Newcomers Club” in Comox is the 2nd largest in Canada, which is quite amazing given the size of the town. This organization, which is essentially only for women (on the grounds, no doubt, that normal men don’t need friendships if they golf or can share masculine grunts while watching hockey), hosts parties for members and their partners to meet others. Although I go to most, hoping to be surprised, I have to say I find these events deeply dissatisfying. I gain very little from exchanges that start with the essential “What brought you here?”, and never get beyond the “What activities do you do?” or “Can you please share your recipe for that appetizer?”

Of course, I’m expecting too much. I just desire oxymoronic instant intimacy. If I can’t have intensity in a relationship, learn about and share inner feelings and ideas, then I have little interest in continuing, or at least developing it. And, in a perfect world, I want this state immediately, without the quite necessary preamble and testing that happens before real people will reveal themselves fully. Understanding that this is unrealistic, I still believe it is possible to identify fairly quickly where there is limited potential for such deepening.

In Comox, based on my experience with the Newcomers Club, many people seem very content with establishing a wide circle of essentially activity-based acquaintances, and have no devilish desire to delve deeper. Todos Santos appears, generally, a more fertile hunting ground for my personal concept of friendship. Maybe that’s partly because, until recently at least, unlike Comox, you had to be a bit of an adventurer and an odd duck to choose Todos Santos as a place to stay. It was primitive in parts, a little “new ageish” (they play drums and do Tarot there, don’t they?), and without fishing or golf. While other parts of Baja had more conventional inhabitants, there weren’t really any vanilla ones here. That may be changing, with the growth of more “Carmel-like” subdivisions. But for now, I, as an odd duck, find many people here to be interesting and interested.

Finding and starting new friendships is one thing. Sustaining them is quite another. On reflection, it seems to me that intense friendships may have a natural lifecycle. People come together when they find it addresses their common needs, whether those relate to a specific difficult shared external event, or some aspect of their inner selves they need to address. But then people and situations evolve, the needs diverge, and with them, at least the intensity or nature of the connection. That isn’t to say that you can’t keep friendships. When we get together with our best friends of many years, it seems, for the duration of the visit, like we were never apart. I’m not sure, however, whether this relationship or others would withstand, without evolution, extended visits that washed away the novelty and newsy aspects of our interactions.

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