Wednesday, March 18, 2015

We Need A Common Frame of Reference

Something to hang your hat on

There is a scene in Star Trek; The Voyage Home where Dr. McCoy asks Mr Spock about his experience being dead and brought back to life. Spock declines to discuss it because there is no common frame of reference. I had my first glimpse of what that was all about one summer in high school when, miffed at my parents and their silly rules, I rode my bike into a neighborhood too far. Not the wrong side of the tracks just the block beyond where my farthermost friend lived.

It stuck me as I was peddling through how very different their block was. Ours was obsessed with immaculate lawns, and the windows all had drapes rather than curtains or shades. We had trees in our yards. Trees and lawns I figured were of major importance because it was where we all hung out in the afternoon. Sitting in the shade, on the grass looking for four leaf clovers. I am not sure what peace negotiations were going on in the world then but as a serious student I always watched the news and figured our trees and grass was like the importance of the shape of the table before the talks began. The table was a common frame of reference.

I believe in order to become friends you have to have a common frame of reference. You are both rebelling against parents and society, or both are nerds in computer class. Or like Sherlock points out in the last episode of season 3, you love adventure and danger and are attracted to high functioning sociopaths and all your friends are just that. When some thirty years ago I gave of alcohol and drugs I quickly discovered I had nothing in common with my old circle of friends. And they were desperate to get me back. Even willing to spike my club soda. Married people have married friends and single people have single friends. Birds of a feather flock together. And it is hard to soar with eagles when you are flocking with turkeys.

Today when I exploded at my on again/off again friend, she wrote back to say she had no idea I was angry, and could I please explain why I was so angry. I remembered a long time committed relationship (I was committed - him not so much) when I told him I was leaving. He asked, "But why?" And I told him it was because he had to ask.

So I am not the easiest person to get along with. I have high moral expectations of myself and my friends. Call it THE primary frame of reference. I am also a doer. I garden, paint, photograph, walk with my dogs, explore in my truck, mostly love snow, do not like excessive heat, go days without a bra or makeup, don't chit chat, love deep existential conversations, Facebook and blog, and cook - I love to cook.

My on again/off again friend has a camera she does not use, does not garden, has painted but thinks it makes too much of a mess, hates walking the dogs, would rather set out to the city in a sedan, hates snow, thinks 87 degrees is COLD, always wears a bra and puts on makeup, chit chats with everyone, would rather talk of conspiracies that philosophies, does not Facebook or blog, dines out rather than cooks.

In short we have nothing in common except our past. We met when we were both rebelling from our parents. We moved apart but reconnected when we were both on a spiritual quest. She moved to Hawaii and I moved to New Mexico when we were both recovering from head injuries. Then later she moved next door. That is the some total of our common frame of reference. Her move to Florida subtracted New Mexico.

I am a lover of pets. She sees them as accessories. She wrote she was sorry her dog killed my cat but it is four lines in an email while the other 100 lines are about her face lift. That was the point where my frustration and angst at the friendship finally boiled over to something close to real anger. It smoldered when she started guilt tripping me to keep her dog. After all she had to put down his pal for killing my cat. If I took the time to explain to her that Scrappy's violent death on the 20th of December still makes me cry she would not understand. She would go into councilor mode and try to help be past this.

I do not want to know people who cannot cry over a lost pet. And I know because she had to ask what I was angry about that she would not understand my answer.

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