From Afar: Friendships passing in the night

From Afar: Friendships passing in the night

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Charlie Nadler writes From Afar.

Charlie Nadler writes From Afar. — courtesy of Charlie Nadler

Charlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s just relocated to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

Change is a raw deal. It continually sneaks up on us, yet we never become accustomed to it. As a child I thought geriatric people were ridiculous to complain about inflation, technology, or rap music, but now that I am one third of the way to elderly I completely get it. Human civilization transforms, too rapidly, without ever asking our permission. It’s not cool.

One of the more difficult types of change for me relates to friendship. I consider myself a good friend and there is a lot of empirical evidence to support this. I take an interest in the people I’m close with. I’m happy when they’re happy, anxious when they’re anxious, sad when they’re sad. I am in the top tenth percentile when it comes to remembering birthdays and anniversaries.

The common, upbeat saying about friendship is that you can choose your pals. But people rarely discuss how fickle these choices can be. Geography, employment, hobbies, aging, and other life events constantly alter my friendships in positive, negative, natural ways. This is cool only sometimes.

Millennials are fortunate to have been given great tools to help mitigate any friendship changes; I’ll admit it’s really my computer that does all the leg work for my “mensch” calendar skills. We are blessed to live in a world where devices bridge the physical gaps between us. I was about ten years old when the internet became a household item. It was amazing to see my parents’ generation find new joy by reconnecting with people they hadn’t seen in decades.

Now we have the opposite phenomenon. We can keep a pulse on everyone and losing touch with someone is the new rarity. Babies born today will have a hard time understanding the phrase “long time, no see.” I wonder, though, will the institution of friendship suffer because of how easy it is to connect? Does knowing someone is just an instantaneous Facebook message or email away devalue the process of human interaction? It shouldn’t, but it might. Ugh, I sound old.

The reason I decided to dredge all of these thoughts up today is that I fear I have lost a really good friend. There was no last straw or unfortunate event, but some miscommunication and unfair assumptions on both of our parts has created a silent rift. It’s taken me by surprise because this friendship has spanned multiple geographies and life stages. If there were a pool on which of my friendships wouldn’t last, Vegas would lose a lot of money on this one.

The good news is we are just a click away from repairing this fissure. I just hope we can hurtle our respective egos to get to a mouse or phone. It would be a really uncool change if we don’t.

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