Tuesday, April 04, 2006

the lunchbox of friends

I'm guilty of compartmentalising people.

You know, the art of putting the people you meet into neat little segmented classification of family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and strangers. Almost like putting different kinds of food into a lunchbox so you'd have a mix of goodies, but neatly separated in their wrappers, containers and such.

But oh no, it doesn't stop there.

I mean, it's easy enough if they're family. You can't quite call them anything else but family. If you really think about it, the family circle extends so far and wide, you and I might even be related (this statement is not for my cousins who read this, you already ARE family, not an "extended circle").

Back to compartmentalisation.

When we were growing up, it was so easy to describe who the other person is in relation to you. "Oh, she's my friend." And if you didn't like the other person, you just say, "I don't friend you!" and that was the end of the friendship, until the next day when all is forgotten and you're back to being best of buddies.

As I got older and knew more people, however, I start putting more and more labels on them. I'm sure a lot of you do, too. They aren't as simple as just family and friends anymore. I had classmates, ex-classmates, colleagues, ex-colleagues, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, boyfriends who weren't really my "boyfriends", girlfriends (but not the other type though I know some of them too), boss, student, teacher, climbing buddies, biking buddies, blogger pals, penpals, chat friends, the dreaded "friends of the family"... oh, you get the drift.

You could even break down the labels to sub-labels, like classmates, for example. Primary school classmates, secondary school classmates, college classmates, university classmates, tuition classmates. And more, but I don't want to go any further, I'm sure I'd lose myself in there.

And what happens when some of those compartmentalised people move categories? Cross boundaries?

I'm close to my ex-colleagues from my first job. We've stayed in touch throughout these years, still go out and have a good time once in awhile. So they're more like friends now. Yet their still ex-colleagues.

There are also the current colleagues (hello, boys and girls) whom I'm close to as well. Well, close in the sense that it goes beyond just work, and you pig out at every available restaurant, have a wild and crazy time at some secluded place, and tease one another endlessly. They could be considered friends too, right? But... they're still colleagues. What does that make them, frienleagues? Ex-frienleagues in the case above? No no, that sounds like they're my ex-friends as well. I'd need to stick to frienleagues then.

What about people whom you used to call "friends" at one time because you were close (e.g. in school), but whom you've long outgrown since and lost touch for many, many years? Do they go back to just being classmates or [insert label here]?

There are also those acquaintances whom you know on a surface level, yet at some point you know them a little more personally though still not quite there yet. Where do they cross the borderline to become your friend? Does it need some life-changing, browniepoint-earning situation to be bunked up a classification?

Oh, boy.

This just gets so confusing, doesn't it?

So hey, I've come up with a brilliant solution.

Clean up the mess, break down those walls and all.

You, my dears...

Are my friends.

Even if you were a blast from my past whom I've not seen for 18 years, suddenly come back into my life, then goes out of touch again for another 18 more.

Even if I've only met you for a couple of times. As long as our meetings were on a cordial note, you're a friend.

Boys and girls of the friendleague union, you're definitely my friends.

The auntie who sells noodles at the corner coffeeshop nearby, if you constantly give us more noodles than anyone else each time we order our food from you, you're my friend too. (Ok, you're Mum's friend.)

The bloggers and non-bloggers and lurkers who read my blog and give me hugs and kisses and encouragement, share my joy and laughter, stand by me in times of sorrow and try not to laugh when I fess up on silly things, how could you not be my friends? Of course you are my friends!

Oh, but there has to be an exception. Nasty people don't make it on my friends list. People who don't respect other people, slander and defame other souls, joy suckers, the "bad people out there" (thieves, robbers, rapists, suicide bombers, etc) and all those who make me feel yucky about myself on a regular basis - nope. You don't make it on this list.

Am I your friend, too?


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