Fading FriendshipTuesday, January 03, 2017
|Felipe Occhiuzzi far left|
I have written of friendship and the loss of it here and here but it has been much in my thoughts of late. In that previous blog I quoted Harold Bloom from his book How To Read And Why:
"We read not only because we cannot know enough people, but because friendship is so vulnerable, so likely to diminish or disappear, overcome by space,time, imperfect sympathies, and all the sorrows of familial and passional life."
And there is this from Julian Barnes's nothing to be frightened of:
"I look around at my many friendships, and can recognize that some of them are not so much friendships any more as memories of friendship."
One of the first books I purchased when we moved from Mexico City to Vancouver was The Random House Dictionary of the English Language – The Unabridged Edition. In it I looked up the noun friend. Only in its 7th citiation is the word considered a transitive verb: Rare – to befriend. Under friended it is an archaic adjective. From that I can safely surmise that the Facebook to friend and to unfriend are modern, more recent modifications of the erstwhile noun.
I have been thinking about friendship of late because many of my friends are dying or dead.
The word friend has a more direct connection with to love in Spanish as the word for is amigo and that is very close to amar or to love. Friendship is amistad and a non-regulation sports match is a partido amistoso. Te amo or I love you in Spanish is very dramatic. More often we use te quiero. It it not as prosaic as “I want you” but really means I love you dearly.
One of my dearest friend is Felipe Occhiuzzi. For close to two years he and I and three more of us served in the Argentine Navy seconded to the US Naval Advisor. Through the years in my visits to Argentina we have gotten together. We have stayed in touch.
|Robert Hijar far right|
Another friend I met earlier in 1962 when I went to the University of the American in Mexico City. Roberto Hijar was studying to get a masters in art. We both smoke pipes, listened to classical music and good jazz. We stayed in touch with letters and then with visits to his home in San Francisco and then in Memphis.
Both Felipe and Robert incorporated email and the internet into their lives. Both started sending me emails with links to stuff. The emails were addressed to many more than I and rarely did they come with an explanatory “Dear Alex these photographs reminded me of what you do and I thought…”
These email links incensed me and I threatened to send Swedish pornography to all their recipients (and I may have in a couple of occasions). They never got the message so I gave up explaining and just deleted those emails.
Perhaps 10 years ago I called Robert in Memphis and told him we could get connected using Skype. He told me that I had called him at his cellular number and he was at his mother-in-law’s and she hated it when he used the phone in her presence. And then, off the cuff he said, “I do not need to communicate with you as I know all about you by reading your daily blog.” At that point I told him he was history – that we were history. Through the years he sends me greetings on Canadian Thanksgiving and that sort of thing. His emails are more sporadic now. Perhaps, as he is four years older than I am, he may be dead. I never reply.
I called Felipe in Buenos Aires when I visited in April 2016. I told him that I wanted to see him. He was only a bus route away from where I was staying. He called back to tell me he was not feeling well. I have not heard from him since.
And that is how friendship fades into oblivion. The only route is to make new ones. That is something I am actively trying to do.