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Girl Talk

March 22, 2014

I was never the girl who always had many female friends. Sure, I always had a couple of girlfriends with whom I could chat freely, but it always seemed that my guy-friend count was always higher than my girl-friend count.

But, thank goodness, I was always lucky enough to always have at least one chick by my side, through each stage of my life, with whom I could talk to about almost everything. It’s nice. Girls understand each other.

Last night, AN and NL came over for dinner and tea at my place. Oh how wonderful it was, especially after a long and restless day. I had woken up early yesterday morning to go to Yoga; it was a harder class than usual, and I found myself crashing mid-day out of exhaustion. I didn’t want to take a nap, so I busied myself by prepping for our dinner. I made challah (with olives in it!) and vegan blueberry cake (later that night, we would make a Tina Ta original: Pumpkin Tomato Lentil soup). That basically took up my entire day, so I didn’t get much research done for my paper on 18th-century novels, and that made me nervous.

Yet, still, I looked forward to our “girl’s night in.” I love it when I see the girls because we talk about everything: school, politics, boys, racism, movies, embarrassing things that happen to us… &c, &c. Our tête-à-têtes are always so wonderful, and it makes me sad to think that in just a month’s time, we will be scattering to different places in the world, and it will become all the more harder to have these gatherings.

AN and NL are just wonderful people. I feel so at ease with them that I know I can be my “true self” when I am with them. No restraints, no awkwardness because they appreciate the “real me.” Ever since moving away for university, I discovered that it’s not easy to come by friends (and by friends, I mean, real friends, not Facebook friends).

In university, it’s hard to come by friends when you don’t have Facebook, don’t often go out to parties, and don’t often go out to the bars to hang with “the bros.”

And that’s why I’m so glad I met these two wonderful girls: NL, the girl whom I met the first week of freshman year in religion class, and AN, the girl whom I met second year in my law class. I will miss them so much. I will miss us so much–the “us” from first, second, and third year, and the “us” we are today.

I have been thinking a lot about “friendships” within the past couple of years, especially within the past couple of months because of the philosophy classes I am taking. Call me crazy, but when I was 19, I even wrote a little (unfinished) philosophical treatise called, “My Thoughts on Everything,” in which I had a section called, “On Friendship.”

Here was the opening:

Why do we form friendships? Why is it that we need to have companions? Is it not better not to form friendships since everyone dies in the end? That way, we would not have to suffer through the pain of watching everyone around us die before we do. And even if we do die first, we would not die feeling sad, knowing that we had left loved ones behind.

But perhaps you will argue that beginnings and endings do not matter–that only the events that happen in b/t matter, for why dwell on life and death when they are inevitable?

It does not matter how friendships start, or how they end, or how long they last. What matters is what happens during the course of the friendship. Did it impact you in any way? Did it impact the other person? How so? Did the other person change you? Did he or she force you to change? For better or for worse? The big question is, do the other person (or did the other person) add meaning to your life?

 Needless to say, I was a pretty very reflective neurotic 19-year-old. I guess I’d like to think of myself as someone like Gregory Lewis, who wrote the wonderful Gothic novel “The Monk” when he was 18, but the difference b/t us is that his book was published shortly thereafter, and my “mini philosophical treatise” remains in a folder marked “Project” on my laptop.

Screenshot 2014-03-22 08.52.45

But I digress.

My point is that these girls have impacted my life, and it’s hard to imagine a life without tea with AN and library time with NL. You know, it’s true what Aristotle says: one person is “related to his friend as he is to himself, since the friend is another himself.” My friends are a part of me, and that is why when I am not with them, I feel lost and disoriented. I relate to them as I relate to myself. 

Where would I be without my friends? As Paul Ricoeur, a contemporary European philosopher who more or less follows the Aristotelian tradition on friendship, notes: all of our lives are really intertwined–hence the term “oneself as another” that he coins. I love this term. It means that parts of me live within my friends, and conversely, parts of my friends live within me–“another as oneself.”

And so in that way, I know I shouldn’t be sad. I know that we shouldn’t be sad.

Because wherever we go, the other lives within us. Wherever we go, we live within the other.

That’s what real friendship is about, isn’t it?

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“The friend, inasmuch as he is that other self, has the role of providing what one is incapable of procuring by oneself.” – Paul Ricoeur, Oneself as Another

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