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On friendship, and missed opportunity

A few years back, on a trip to L.A. to visit friends, I went to a big Halloween party. The friend who took me brought along another female friend, who I had never met (or even heard of from him) before that night. Shortly after arriving at the party, our mutual friend left us together to go speak to someone on business. As women will, we circled each other warily for a bit (not literally, of course) but somehow broke the ice, realized how like we were, and bonded instantly. We had one of those instant connections that you can only have with someone you don't know well—pouring out all kinds of personal information, trading stories, gossiping, and having a great time. We even had stupid nicknames for each other (based on our costumes and a few comments we'd gotten) within about two hours. We danced, we met people, we ran all over the party and then wheedled our friend into coming with us to another party where we stayed out quite late, and had a night that will always rank up there as one of the most fun I will ever have, especially considering that at one point I was expecting it to be one of my worst (being left alone with a stranger at a party where you know virtually no-one is not often the start to a great night).

She was funny, smart, and even taller than me, which I loved. We stayed in touch for a bit, but as I had no more trips to L.A. and am so often too overwhelmed with work and mail to be a good correspondent, we lost contact with each other. Everytime there was a possibility of a trip out to L.A. I would hope I might hook up with her, but the only trip I made again after that was a one-day work trip with no free time. She went to San Diego (Comicon) last year, but we weren't able to go. I did think of her regularly, and as recently as a week ago I thought I would try and check in with our mutual friend to get her current address and see if she was still in L.A. so I could drop her a line. But I didn't—or I'd have found out that she finally had email and I could have easily dropped her a note to say hi.

Why does any of this matter? Because she died suddenly over the weekend, as I found out today. I feel sad because she did not deserve what happened to her. I feel sad because no-one deserves to die violently, or young. I feel sad because I never made the time to follow up on what could have been a long and good friendship. True, maybe we wouldn't have remained friends, and maybe our "instant connection" wouldn't have held up over the long haul. And, of course, you can't become good friends with every simpatico person that you run into in your life.

Friendships are work, and when you work as much as most self-employed people do, the hours left over to put into your personal life sometimes just aren't there. And that is the problem. It's very common in our industry to have these sort of friendships, people who you genuinely consider to be good friends of yours, but whom you see only once every year or two, and exchange perhaps christmas cards and a note or two with in between conventions. People try hard to stay in touch, but it isn't easy when you're all scattered about the country and all working up to 80 hours a week. It's a problem I don't even know how to address—there's only so many hours in a week, and you've got to divide them between work and sleep, eating and taking care of yourself, spouse/significant other and family, and then social life and recreation…it's just very difficult when you're not someone who works 40-50 hours a week and then is done with it. I'm grateful that we do what we do, and that we work together, and that we can choose which days we want to do what. And usually I only think about the financial costs of our choices (we are wholly responsible for our own social security payments, for example; health insurance is a huge burden on the self-employed; and choosing to work on our own projects keeps us from building up any savings most years). But sometimes the personal costs become evident as well. Like today.

Here's to you, Boots, wherever you are. I'll never forget you.


my condolences, that's a terrible way to end what sounds like it has been a horrible week or so for you. i know what you are going through...an uncle of mine, distanced by about half the country, just died. i always got along great with him at family gatherings, and from what relatives have told me, we were much the same. i always felt very akin to him, yet we never maintained much of a contact, other than the usual holiday letters. the fact that he and i never maintained much of a correspondance never troubled me until his death...what i have come to decide from it all is that it is more important to celebrate what relationship we had with the deceased, than to worry about what may have been. i suppose that might sound kind of cold, and i'm sorry. but that is the way i have come to feel.
again, my condolences.


:( :( :(