...are the ones that make the biggest difference

5.21.2005

Old friends and pairing off

So far, this trip has been good. Thursday night I went to "poker night" at a friend's house (the groom from the wedding we're going to tonight, actually) and saw the whole group of my old guy friends from church. It was good but left me feeling a bit odd. I did 2 deployments with the Army, one for 6 months and the other for 9, and while I was away I hardly heard from any of those friends. No emails, no letters - nothing. The same has been true since we left Arizona for Illinois, though this time it was not too surprising. After coming back from Alaska, the old group just didn't cohere for me like it used to. Part of that was the fact I was working a full-time, corporate job that prevented me from staying up till 2 and 3 in the morning like we used to. And the rest of it was being married, with all the new dynamics that that introduces. But seeing all the guys again was easy, it just settled in like we really hadn't missed a beat. Aside from a little catching up about work and the like, it didn't really seem like a whole lot had changed.

I'm not sure if that is good or bad, but I'm leaning towards bad. It seems like there should be a more noticeable gap, something that says "we've been apart for a long time". Some have praised that feeling of non-interruption as a mark of true friendship, and perhaps it is, but at the same time it introduces a strong sense of detachment, of hollowness to the relationship. The absence has not mattered, with all the implications that statement brings.

We had dinner last night with an old college friend and his pregnant wife, and this morning we had lunch with my wife's aunt & uncle - a nice, retired couple of a deep and committed faith. In both instances, the men and women ended up pairing off and speaking exclusively to each other most of the time. In the instance of the old friend, its none too surprising - we had a lot to catch up on and we're both having to consider a career change and grad school in the immediate future. The women, of course, were talking about the baby and (I imagine) their thoughts on their husbands' respective career problems. But there seemed to be no reason for the pairing with my wife's aunt & uncle; I would think they would be far more interested in talking to her, being related and all. I remember, though, this seems to happen quite a lot, even when its only 2 couples - and this strikes me as odd. Why can't the entire group have a conversation? What causes us to automatically shift into man-man/woman-woman communication when in mixed company like that?

2 comments:

alana said...

I think it's just natural.

Anonymous said...

I've seen this happen, but remember, it's every person's responsibility to involve every other person in the conversation. Historically this type of separation was expected, but not now. In some situations there are reasons, like you and your friend, but in others, it may take some effort to speak to both people, not just the other person of the same sex. And all in the group need to involve all in the group..