In a pioneering ascent into potential insanity, this thread is going to combine a real-time event and will stray awfully close to breaking my policy of not naming my subject matter.
Of course, being close to the epicentre is usually a recipe for disaster when writing, if not editorially, then historically when you look back and cringe.
I say when ‘you’ look back, because I never re-read these things, so you can be the judge, jury and executioner when the time arrives…
I famously, or infamously, cultivate a crop of intimate friendships. By that I insinuate that my coterie is very small, and not being one of the fledgling social net-workers, I do not feel the urge to project my ’status’ into the sky like the Bat-Signal every time my self-importance engine overheats.
I shall get to the point as succinctly as possible here, for therapeutic reasons and to finally get it out in black and white;
this week, 2 of my closest friends went into hospital, for various non-threatening ailments.
And neither of them called me to tell me.
Not only did they not call at the time, but I also found out in a space/time continuum that was not even vaguely close enough for me to provide any kind of emotional support.
Now, a few disclaimers, as are necessary with all the scribble that I pour onto these pages;
I am not one of most contactable people in the world, this I shall concede. My phone is not tied to my wrist, and I am not treating it like a delicious dessert and turning it over, waiting for some kind of technological orgasm at the sight of a text.
I discovered this ‘news’, which was horrendously out of date, by stumbling across the revelations by accident.
It really really stings me though.
I know, that in the heat of the moment, when in a flurry of pain and veins loaded with morphine, that logic and straight thinking aren’t the most active of the senses.
Which makes thing 1,000 times worse for me.
Let us take a step back, into the cultivation. I am sounding like the Glenfiddich distillery here, and it hints that I place all my friends in isolated caskets and wait for them to mature at the right age before achieving a perfect vintage.
That analogy is not far off though. When something is told to you, and you witness consistent behaviours, those things become learned, a second nature, almost sub-conscious. At the least, Pavlovian.
I try desperately hard to infuse everyone close to me that I love (on the rainbow spectrum of that emotion) deeply, with the confidence that any time they need me, I will be there.
With the added twist that these are not just pretty foie gras words sitting atop a beautiful crisp green salad, but actual real succulent dishes that can be gorged on without feeling indigestion.
There are no strings, no reciprocal demands in an invisible contract that I bind them into. Just the pure and warm assurance that if something happens, I will be there, come hell or high water.
So where did it all go wrong?.
Why did I end up having my nervous system shocked to the core by reading that 2 people, out of an elite that I carefully hand picked above all the cretins who are cloning and breeding, neglected to turn to me when they had no-where else to go?
It takes a certain strength of character to move to Doha. Most of us migrate here alone, have a ’single’ mindset, and generally have a swashbuckling bravado that we are alone, and anything that we run into will be dealt with by us….and us alone.
I am also guilty of having, like any man, a superman complex, that I want to ride in on a steed and bayonet the challenge to a bloody death. I might add that this is whole-heartedly altruistic, and I am not seeking some kind of ethereal halo from the episode. I have just been raised to fight to the death and defend those whom you love. And this is why I am so meticulous about who I do, and do not, encircle in my friendships. I don’t want to spread my resources too thinly, so I ensure I manage enough to volcanically erupt and have enough lava to circle and protect the people I adore.
Here was the crux of both of their reasons for not picking up the cell and dialling my 8 digits; ” I didn’t want you to worry” and “I didn’t want to disturb you”.
Total, blasphemous insults to my integrity.
In anticipation of such an event, I repeated like a mantra how no time with them is wasted time, and that if something is serious, I will drop anything to be there….setting aside these minor details;
What the hell is wrong with people?
What is it that people want from one another, exactly?
With the death of social cohesion, and the rise of virtual friends I am here, a living breathing monolith to the virtue of something substantial, something real that can be relied upon not for a quip about a holiday picture posted on your ‘wall’, but an actual “Qhris, I need your help” arrow of dependence.
I’m doing everything I was raised to do, displaying every correct droplet of caring, and actually do give a damn when someone I care about is in pain….and I get told that “I thought you would worry”, told after the event that when I was listening to the Smiths or reading a book, I could have been by your bedside exploding the fireworks of dedication that were lit for this very scenario.
It throws the entire camber of the friendship out after that.
Because words just become words.
It is in the blast furnace of a situation that you find out the colour of your blood. Do they run or do they stand their ground? Do they fight, or flight?
I can’t imagine a scenario where i would have done the same.
I would have called.
Would it have been unfair? yes.
If you couldn’t get out of work, would calling ‘you’ have been selfish? Yes.
Do they have the money to get to me? I have no idea.
It would have been TOTALLY self centered to call ‘you’, but i would have.
Maybe that makes me a bad person. Maybe I would be ‘bothering’ someone, though I really want to say that I am not expecting people to be like me….I am just harking what I ‘offer’ as a friend.
In these cases, I would have stood outside, or inside a hospital for hours for anyone I adore. There is no such thing as a wasted journey, or ‘bothering me’, or that I have something more important to do.
Passion and caring is about doing anything….and it is hard to offer it like a chalice…and for it to be passed over like it is a slur on the theory of evolution, that it is weird that someone would possess that kind of steel.
I was wasted, surplus to requirements.
I understand the ‘weakness’ complex believe me.
During my broken ankle, it took a real adjustment to the thought of meeting someone new and their first, everlasting, impression of me being ‘the one on the crutches’ was sinew breaking.
But to tell you the truth, it is because I know that when my ankle had disintegrated, and the tendons snapped, if my Dad had been in Doha he would have carried me every step that my body could not have propelled me. He is my rock, and so anyone that tries to replace that seems….inadequate. It drives me to carry myself, and makes me determined to be that person that anyone can turn to. When you have someone in your life that you know, unequivocally, you can turn to, it takes all the fear away.
And I guess, on a scaled down, bite size level, I want to be that person to everyone that is close to me. I want to be that first speed dial, the lighthouse in the storm.
At 25, I am probably not even close to knowing everything I should, and have a huge distance left to run before I know the best thing to do in most situations.
I might get it wrong, but I will get it wrong beside you…..
I can’t do that if you keep me in the dark, and don’t care that I care so much.
And that was my week, and theirs.
In one night, they have had life altering illness, but the x-ray machine has been turned off, and the sore limbs will heal, thankfully on a road to recovery.
However in that one night, the true colours of the relationship refracted through a prism, and perhaps put both relationships on a road not to recovery……
….but to ruin.