Reciprocal Responsibility

It’s hard to be friends with people who are not consistent. I’m not talking about old friends… we have an unwritten understanding “whenever you need me I’m already there….” But with friends you are building a relationship with, in order to get to that, pick right back kind of understanding, you have to get there first… and that requires consistency, responsibility, equal effort, and hype man vibes.

Anything worth having takes work… relationships take equal the work from all parties. If I call you, you have to reciprocate and call me. If I invite you out, you have to reciprocate and invite me out. If I am available to and for you, you have to be available to and for me. Pause. Take that in, let it marinate in your brain matter. You cannot have a healthy one sided relationship… that does not work. You cannot have a friendship when it fits your schedule. You cannot expect anyone to be okay with you pushing them aside because you are busy… then see you really ain’t that busy, you are just too busy for them. That won’t sit too well with anyone’s spirit. An unequal friendship is not one at all!

Similarly, someone all up in your face every five minutes is not healthy either. I once had a “friend” who called me ten times a day, and when I didn’t answer, because she lived on my block, she came to my house. I didn’t know what kind of dependency she had with me, but I wanted no parts of it. I called her in it and she told me I was wrong… uhh ok. Her intensity was stalkerish to me in my teens, and reminded me of some weird movie like Cruel Intentions or Wild Things, and I ain’t want NO parts of that. Zero. Keep your odd angst to yourself. I could admit I was not interested in that kind of friend, but she couldn’t admit she was hawking me and bordering on psycho… an irresponsible relationship is not one at all.

We all want to be seen in our best light… but we have to turn that joker on and let it and not our bullshit illuminate who we are. You get seen in the light you use. When you deflect your responsibility in a relationship and then attempt to manipulate someone’s feelings toward you with stories of woe and misfortune, but yet always seem to be grinning and smiling with another mofo… it ain’t hard to tell wassup. In college I had a friend who seemed to friend hop to whomever she hadn’t yet exposed her true self. Once you got to know her though, she was very gossipy and jealous. That was the weirdest friendship I ever had, and totally changed my view of how people operate socially. This person who once called and wanted to hang out daily, a year later I barely spoke to. No thanks, keep that. More importantly don’t try to use me as your springboard for bullshit.

I’ve also known people who were just simply interested in having friends but uninterested in being one. Those folks need to find each other and have those social media popular friendships. But I’m not a Kardashian and I am not interested in that. Either be my real friend or move on. An unequal relationship is not one at all.

Maybe you have experienced some form of these friendships… hopefully not. But know that folks will feed you all their tales, woulda coulda shoulda, and busyness to justify why they are just horrible friends. They just are… and those of us trying hard to be great friends just end up wasting tine. You can tell someone is an awesome friends because they have awesome friends… that’s the telltale sign. I mean I know ultimately that folks adore my boonapolis (Greek for bestie) is because they see me over here being all kinds of great!

“Whenever you need me I’m already there. Its gettin’ done hangin’ out the window
Sayin’ WOOO motherfucker UH
You ride for me I’m a ride for you its only fair” Mystical, How Many

Tribe

If you just have acquaintances, women you hang out with cuz they match your fly and they can drink, but they don’t spark a fire in your soul… you are not winning.

Get you some sistafriends.

Listen, real women are out here doing real big things, changing lives, making history, innovating, speaking out, writing out our lives, saving the world, and if the only friends you have are just cute, you are not benefitting from the great resource of women! We are a movement. And I big up all women, but these days Black women are making a million in 90 minutes, and she can help you do the same. We can build an empire, if only we connect and take up residence in each other’s space. We aren’t in competition, there is enough room for all of us.

My boonapolis, hood Greek for bestie, is the real life version of Olivia Pope with a little bit of Karen Civil thrown in. My sistafriends are PhDs, JDs, and MDs. Authors, clinicians, athletics, school principals, college professors, teachers of our children, entrepreneurs, chemists, judges, philanthropists, and just dope ass women. We work hard, we play harder… but we support each other like we share the same blood.

Get you some sistafriends.

Y’all will swap recipes, talk men and sex, bitch about work politics, bitch about politics, show each other fly ass sneakers and shoes on Pinterest, break bread, sip Prosecco cocktails, and rap the lyrics to “I’ll Take Your Man” … the Salt-N-Pepa version, be clear. But through all that, these women will be your shoulder to cry on, show up when you most need it, pray for you, cry with you, and just otherwise keep your crown from slipping. Queen shit!

They will call you on your shit. Tell you when you are trippin trippin. Show you where you can be better. Help you get there. Suggest a therapist. Share some wisdom. They aren’t around simply to stroke your ego or tell you yes, but to really help you reach your next level of humanity and success.

So get you some sistafriends. They are invaluable. You can still be introverted. Still be a loner. Still spend all the time you need with your man and kids. But these women keep you lifted. Y’all might even get lifted in the staircases. Hey, it’s real out here in these mean streets, these women can be a part of your progression and your peace.

Don’t say I didn’t school you!

A Poetry Moment: Friends or Foes

If I’m Barack, She’s Biden

Got a body, let’s get to hiding

She got a rap, I’m the hype man

Might add or multiply, never dividing

What about your friends?

We go together, like hip hop

She’s bass, I’m treble, issa bop

Take that, That that, we don’t stop

A coaster and a platter, we that doo-wop

What about your friends?

All I need is my girl friend, Bonnie & Clyde

Thelma and Louise, she’s on my passenger side

The Duke to my Rocky, sitting ringside

No matter who’s driving, always down to ride.

What about your friends?

#gangganggang

“But the dictionary doesn’t know the meaning of friends…”

Listen, if you don’t have one, you need to get one… #gang. It’s a distinct thing, it’s both homogenous and heterogeneous. Yin and yang. Alike and different. But every member, in their own unique way, is dope as ABSOLUTE FUCK! And y’all just accept each other the way you come.

The one who leaves early, really ain’t tryna talk shit and take shots all night, but they come to support each and every time. They have a good word and a better hug for you, and just their presence makes you smile. That’s gang!

The one who watches their liquor intake, gets up to walk it off, maintains at least five swizzles in the sobriety scale at all times, cuz if they stray too far off path, all hell breaks loose and bad decisions are abound. That’s gang.

The nurturer, making sure everyone is okay. Checks on you like you are the only one there, but has a pulse on everyone. That’s gang.

The turn up tester, checking pulses, but for all signs of life. This one is gonna check in by yelling at you to get your ass in gear and take the party up several notches, cus they said so. That’s gang.

The fun time. This one comes in laughing and hugging and leaves out laughing and grabbing booty. The life of the party for sure. “A party ain’t a party til its ran all through”… that’s gang!

The one always in the know. Knows you, and you, and you and your personal story, because the rest of us just don’t remember you. But this one does, and went to summer camp with your sister and made out with your brother on a choir trip. Yep, they keep us informed. That’s gang.

The chill artsy one. Has a good conversation on hand at all times, and might just throw in something real random … “The Gardens of Nebuchadnezzar” … but cuz the whole gang got great SAT scores and took some college level history, you got a little something to add to the convo even after 4 shots. That’s gang!

The observer. Always watching, taking it all in. Throw on the right song and this one gotta bop to it, but with eyes closed, cuz they need a little personal meditation even during gang time. That’s gang.

The shot caller. Shots, shots, shots, shots…. don’t play, cuz this one will call you out on your inability to follow the rules, and you will never live it down. Take a shot of something… water, wheatgrass, or Patron, your pick, but a shot you must take. That’s gang.

Ready to mingle… single, well perhaps… but this one is trying get on, you or somebody else. That’s gang.

Single… well just single. That’s gang too. Gangs are philanthropic on occasion, open membership drives and such!

Whatever their flavor, they are real friends to savor! Get you some sistafriends and menfriends who hold you down, keep you safe, open their hearts and homes to you, who couldn’t be any more family unless you shared DNA, and who call you on your shit with love and support! No code-switching necessary, cuz we set the code! That’s gang … “ones you can depend on!”

how many of us have them…

Boy meets Girl, Boy likes Girl, Boy & Girl start dating and become a couple. Boy & Girl break up…

Boy meets Girl,  they become friends, they are still friends 20 years later.

We tend to put a lot more time into getting to know our friends. Similarly, we spend more time trying to move away from dating into something more permanent in our partnerships. But friendships tend to last longer… Eros, romantic love, starts off stronger and tends to ebb and flow over time. Philia, or the love characterized in a friendship, is based on a longer lasting selfless care of another that is built stronger over time.

I believe the strongest partnership encompass all the kinds of love…romantic, friendship, and unconditional. There is no shape stronger than a triangle, no structures as large and strong as the pyramids.

There is no real partnership where you have failed to build and continue to build a friendship. The friendship may look different than the one she shares with her sistafriends and he shares with his crew, but if it is built in the image of the Flavor Flav hype man and the Issa Rae mirror b*tch … “you looking real bad, looking like a Queen”… then it is a friendship! Support, encouragement, empowerment, I got your back, you got mine type shit! It takes time, it’s not impatient, and it’s never unkind.

Friendship is the foundation upon which every lasting relationship is built … older married people become more companions than lovers, parents and children grow out of parenting and dependency roles into more reciprocal roles, and even siblings move out of competition and dueling into mutual admiration. So…choose to be friends first and foremost. Be active in getting to know who that person is and how they move. Take your time. Relationships should not mature because dating sucks, but because you have found someone genuine, and you can’t know that until you have rocked hard with that person. Friendship… even if you refuse it… will always be the head cornerstone.

One Love