Sunday, April 26, 2009
A Broken Friendship
A friend sent me an e-mail asking if I wanted to go walking this weekend. I proposed walking in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where I hoped to check out a new piece of street art.
Some background: My friend can be acerbic. He freely admits this, just as he admits his tendency toward self-involvement. I’m aware of these factors, but I try to recognize that they’re just his personality.
But on Saturday, things were ill-fated almost from the get-go. First we had a minor disagreement about where to walk -- he suggested Central Park, but I’d just been there last weekend, and then deeper Brooklyn, which I was open to. Ultimately he agreed to Williamsburg. Then he missed his stop on the subway and had to double back to connect with me.
After we finally met, we walked for a while and I tried to make conversation, but I felt a palpable hostility. We tried to decide where to go for lunch, and he rejected a couple of my suggestions while making none of his own. Finally he ducked into a pizza parlor to get himself a slice.
We proceeded to a restaurant I know, and he got the salad he’d said he wanted. But conversation was still difficult. He asked nothing about me or my life. I asked about his, but got either snide quips or complaints about his health, his dog, his apartment, his neighborhood. (He claims to love his dog, but all his comments point to hatred.) Everything I said seemed to annoy him.
He suggested we walk over the Williamsburg Bridge to Manhattan. Soon after ascending the bridge I pointed out a piece of graffiti on a nearby rooftop by an artist I know, and I got a nasty response in a nasty tone. I apologized for pointing it out, turned on my heel and walked across the bridge without looking back. I have no idea whether he crossed or not. I don’t particularly care.
Indeed, that’s what’s most interesting about this incident. I do not feel a whit of sorrow that we parted that way, and in fact, as far as I’m concerned, we’ve parted for good. If anything, I feel liberated.
Normally, I keep in touch with almost everyone in my life. I’ve experienced very few relationships -- in fact, I can think of only one -- that became truly unworkable. But this friendship falls squarely into that category. The break isn’t about yesterday -- it’s about all the effort I’ve put over a period of years into trying to make him happier, to talk to him, to comfort him, to be sympathetic to his many problems, only to be routinely treated meanly and disrespectfully. In retrospect, I’ve been a patsy to endure his negativity and self-pity.
Friendship is a two-way street. I’m moving on!
(Photo: Just No Idea, Tribeca, April 2009)