On friendship

 

Right now I am sitting in a coffee shop listening to a woman with a strong voice play the guitar and sing. She took a break to get some coffee just as I was getting my first cup, and at first I waited for her to finish, but then I approached to fill my mug. As she has in the past, she looked at me and said, “I know you.”

The first time she said that was after a Dar Williams concert. I was happy to see her, but we didn’t have the same level of recognition. She didn’t remember the time at a queer film festival that she comforted me when I was near tears. I’d admitted I had run out of medication, and she said that was why. She’d tried to tell me it could get better. I’d let her read a piece of my writing. The next movie was about a transman who’d cut before coming out and making the transition. Sitting next to me in the this heater, she’d reached out to touch me on the arm, and said, “Don’t do that!”

The time at the concert I was hurt that she hadn’t remembered that, as the conversation turned to music. I hadn’t specifically brought it up, because I was sensitive about it, and I’m trying to learn better boundaries now. And at one time we’d had a mutual friend. I’d had a falling out with my friend because I was once a much needier person, and full of negativity. I don’t blame her for leaving now. My friend was also at the concert, with her partner. I’d waved to her as we were entering, and she’d shouted, “hey!” but after the concert I’d been afraid to approach her. I walked away hurt, and decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to rekindle the friendship.

Then I saw the woman, the one who is now singing at the coffee shop I’m in, at the grocery store. Again, I’d tried to avoid her, but we ended up on the same aisle and she said, “I feel like I know you from somewhere.” I just said, “Around,” and went on my way.

Today I am sitting facing the window, away from her performance, but I turn around and glance at her over my shoulder, and last time I turned and applauded, she caught my eye, and made the “ok” symbol with her fingers. I feel I would need to sit down with her for coffee to tell her how I know her. It’s not that I think it could be a romantic connection. She has a partner, and that’s not what I’m looking for.

It would just be nice to get this resolved, because it seems like it’s meant to, like it means I’d be able to reconcile the past. And I’d like to thank her for her support during a dark time in my life.

I will write more in my journal today about friendship, in my personal writing that I don’t have to censor for letting other people read, or worry about personal identifying information. It’s something I’ve been meaning to write about for a long time. I don’t know if my recent autism diagnosis will help me have healthier friendships, but I hope so. I am not withdrawn. I’m an extrovert, I’ve realized. I want to reach out to others, but don’t know how to do it appropriately. I have a lot of acquaintances—more than 400 friends on Facebook—but no close friends right now. Few people I can call up and ask if they want to have coffee.

I have gone to the opposite side of how I was—my boundaries are like walls now. I keep it superficial, talking mostly about art, poetry, knitting, whatever is going on with the crowd I’m in. I’m learning to let conversations flow, and subjects change naturally, no longer making it about me. I know I need to find a balance.

For now, as I write this, I wonder if the woman will approach after her set is over. Not expecting it, but not pushing the idea away either.

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