Friends and Friendship

Paraguay

So, here I am in Westbury, Tasmania, getting on with the rest of my life, loving this house, my home, and Rocky of course, but still yearning for something else. And I have finally figured out what that something else is – intimacy. My days in Kiama were largely unfulfilled, except for the time I spent with Kate and Bob. But I was badly missing something, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Kate (my daughter and best friend) thought it was that I wasn’t “involved” with any particular activities or people to “keep me occupied” – to stop feeling bored and alone. She encouraged me to get out and about in Westbury and make a lot of new friends. So, I did. And it was great for a while, but then it started to feel empty again. I didn’t know what I wanted, so I looked further afield at all the organisations and groups in town. But I didn’t feel right for any of them.

Fortunately, one of the very nice people I had met at the RSL was their president, Bob Sackley. Bob is about a year older than me and retired. Recently he suffered a severe infection and ended up spending two weeks in a Launceston Hospital. I visited him twice. On the second occasion I spent over two hours there talking to him and we spoke of our lives and experiences as well as having a few laughs. He was the most non-threatened person I had met here, intelligent, compassionate and receptive. When he asked me how I was enjoying Westbury I told him how I was feeling. Bob, like Kate, thought I just needed to get involved in something. He arranged for me to meet the local Rotary president and attend one of their dinners. I did that last night. I fairly quickly determined that Rotary wasn’t for me, but in the process I learned much more.

I adjourned to the bar when the formal part of the evening commenced and spent the next hour talking to the barmaid, Katrina, as I was the only customer left. In that one-on-one circumstance she opened up about her life, her feelings, her fear that she isn’t a good enough mother, and how she wants so much more for her daughter than she managed to achieve in life. I loved every minute of it. When I came home I started to think about all my social experiences in Westbury, and I realised that the afternoon with Bob and the hour with Katrina were standouts. Then it became as clear as a bell. It was intimacy that I craved.

I want to make it clear that there is nothing wrong with the people of Westbury; they are happy, friendly and hospitable folk who go about their days with good intent. Largely the men hang out with the men and talk “bloke” and the women do likewise. They perceive the genders to be quite distinctly dissimilar and distinguished by what they consider inherent interests and behaviour. They see both genders has having very different roles in both life and relationships. The men never talk about emotions, relationships or themselves. And they rarely, if ever, talk about any issues that might challenge standard thinking and traditional values and beliefs. They are quite proud of their many “mates” and consider themselves to have everything they need in life. But I think there is a big difference between friends and friendship. To me firiends aren't just aquaintenances and certainly not your Facebook "friends". Most people actually keep their friends at an arm's length, not really engaging in a significantly personal way on an intelligent level that may in any way threaten their perception of who they are. And they avidly avoid discussing the really important issues of the world.

William Lane

Bob Neilson

But I’m not like that, and neither is my best friend (after Kate) Bob Neilson. I think we both feel isolated because we are not atypical. Neither of us finds it easy to make friends, let alone keep them, and those we have can be counted on one hand - in my case, maybe on a few fingers. It’s the price we have paid for being both intelligent and different. But it is what it is. And, in my case, I must sleep in the bed I have made for myself. But I feel I have so much to give, so much I want to share, that intimacy is what would make my life complete. I know the likelihood of meeting someone, someone single, with the same need, is unlikely. The single women I have met in recent years seem to assume that men are simply seeking a sexual relationship, and in most cases that is the last thing the women want. Convincing any woman that this may apply to the majority of males but not to me appears almost impossible. The fact is that if I met a single male who saw the world like me that I would attempt to become good friends. But most men, as I stated previously, are afraid of such relationships.

The good news is that I have finally worked it out – understand more about myself and what drives me. It’s comforting in so many ways. As for the fate of the rest of my

Geoff Mooney