"You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friends nose.”
For me, that goes down as one of the all time great truths. Seriously. What it says is, no matter how close you are to someone, there are still boundaries. There will always be things that keep you at arms length.
Those boundaries get more pronounced over time. Absence can make the distance greater.I’ve gotten used to that distance, and saying goodbye. I left friends in high school. I left friends in college. I left friends at Marvel, and at every job I've had since. And in so doing, I've compartmentalized a part of myself, putting it into a little box, enabling me, requiring me, to go out and reinvent myself once again. Do that many times, and you start to mix up the boxes, confusing them, not knowing precisely which part goes where, or is from when. You get lost. It’s good to look through those boxes from time to time, and put them in a context. That's another aspect that my high school reunion was good for. Through reconnection, and a reshuffling of the boxes, I got to see what parts of myself I value, and thereby what connections still remain with those parts. I got to see how strong the boundaries had become, and how difficult the connecting would be.
What I found was the joy of knowing that, between some, those boundaries dissolve at first sight. Sometimes, years fall away, and an embrace is as instantaneous as it is natural. That is true, and it is amazing, but it is not true not for many. It's a bond between a select few. You can feel it in the welcome, the level of natural warmth in the greeting, the recognition in the eye that remains unwavering and comforting and welcome.
There’s a way I like to think of it: in some peoples near-death experiences, they report walking into a light, and being greeted by dead friends, welcoming them. If life is like that in parallel, then your best friends are those you’d want behind you, alive, calling you back to them. Aside from family members, they are the people you’d most want to see and talk to, one last time.
And that was another reason that I wanted to go to my high school reunion. To see who among this mental group I would see again, and with whom that connection would still be alive. It’s pretty amazing when that bond can survive, and even a hint of it can exist.
You can’t pick your family, and hell no, you can’t even pick our high school. And when they tell you you can pick your friends, really what they mean is “from the available resources.” You make friends with those who you hang around with the most, right? It’s chance, and convenience, and the same kind of dumb happenstance like that which first brought together the raw amino acids that sparked life of a dead rock in space. Right?
Personally, I don’t believe that.
Take the idea of a soul mate. Some ridicule the idea that there’s one special person whose soul connects with yours in a way that can’t be explained; a person without whom you feel empty, and lost. Some say, even if such a thing is true, the chances are astronomical that you could find that living in your same generation, and living near enough to you and in enough time for you to meet them, and know them and connect.
But I believe in that ideal. I believe you can find that person, because there is a guiding hand involved. Whether you want to call it Fate or Destiny or God or simple hormonal chemical connection, or even invisible strings running through every living thing in the world, connecting ne to another. Whatever you choose to call it, I believe it, because it does happen. There is a reason, and an order to it.
And it works the same with friends. I believe you are led into concentric orbit with friends you are meant to know, who are meant to teach you something and share something with you. I believe you connect with people—specific people—over the course of your life because you are meant to. And connections are made that are unseen, and often unspoken, but nonetheless real. Connections that overshadow boundaries. You may subsequently be pulled in another direction, but the connection that is there means—requires—that you will reconnect one day, with those with whom you’re meant to. And when that happens, those boundaries of time dissolve, on contact, and you are drawn back into that connection, past the ideas and ideals of beauty and popularity, race and gender, to a real core of people drawn to each other because of who you, and they, really are.
Those are the people you pick.