Thursday, February 07, 2008

Am I better because of poker? Part 5: Friendship + a little pimpage.

In this look at how poker has impacted my life, I’ll be covering the following topics:
- Finances
- Career
- Health
- Marriage
- Friendship

Welcome to Part 5: Friendship

Writing this series of posts has taken longer than I expected – and truth be told, I’ve been avoiding this last entry like the plague. Not because of the poker part, but because of the friendship part. I’m afraid that to look at the impact poker has had on friendship in my life, I’ll have to take an honest look at friendship before poker, and I’m not sure I’m emotionally ready for that.

But, I want to finish the series because not finishing it has held me from posting anything else of consequence, so here goes…

I’m a friendly person. I’m cheerful, I’m optimistic, I laugh easily and enjoy making others laugh. I feel like I’m likable, and make good company. Hell, I’d be friends with me. But all my life, I’ve had very few friends.

When I was very young, my parents had a close group of friends – they all had children in two waves; the first wave (which contained my older sister) was all girls. The second wave, 4 years later, contained me….and a bunch of boys. My first friend was David. Because our parents were best friends, we were joined at the hips as babies, and toddlers, and very young children. We did everything together….until we entered the first grade. He ran off with the boys, and I was left with the Stephanies and Jennifers of my age-group who didn’t seem to get me. I wasn’t a tom-boy, but I wasn’t a girly-girl either. Even at that age I was a plain-Jane bookworm, and I didn’t seem to fit in with anyone. You see, I didn’t really know how to socialize with girls. The older girls in my parents’ extended family wanted nothing to do with me (they were too old to hang out with a ‘baby’), so I either hung with the boys, or as I grew older and was no longer welcome there (ewww! girls are gross!), I hung with the adults, or, more often than not, a book.

What’s odd, is that I didn’t seem to have a problem socializing in a group – but I never made that one-on-one connection with anyone. I never had a ‘best friend’ that the girls around me all seemed to have.

I came close in the 4th grade – with Christie, who was a year older than me. We were in a 4/5 split and became close. We used to ride bikes, go swimming, and watch scary movies (Children of the Corn was our favourite). But then the school year came to an end. Christie was going to the Junior High, and told me that we couldn’t be friends anymore, because she wanted to be with a cool group at school. And I wasn’t cool. I was devastated. 3 years later I was walking home from school one day and passed Christie and one of her cool friends. As I walked by, she moo’d like a cow. Mean Girls indeed.

Junior High and High School were much the same story. I was fine in groups, always had someone to each lunch with, or play Echure with in the cafeteria, and had a couple of close friends, but was never the best friend. The closest I came was Laura – who I am still friends with to this day. However, there were three of us who hung out together, Laura and Leanne were ‘best-friends’, while I was a welcome, but very clear, first runner-up. Even now, as adults that dynamic exists, Leanne was Laura’s maid of honour, Laura will be the same in Leanne’s in her upcoming wedding.

I’m right there with the bridal showers & bachelorette parties…but haven’t quite reached BFF status. When it came down to it – in all situations, I was the one passed over.

Post-high school was all about teh interweb for me. Again, I found lots of friends – and one, truly best friend in Tonya. She and I are still wonderfully close. Except, that is, for proximity. She lived in Florida when I met her, moved to Tennessee for university, and now lives in Maryland. We stood up for each other in our weddings. She is the funniest, most loving, and dearest friend to me. Except we see each other once a year, at most, and communication (besides keeping tabs via personal blogs), is inconsistent. I know if she lived closer, we’d see each other all the time. But distance has not been kind to our friendship.

And thus lies my biggest problem - me. Lest you think this post is all ‘woe is me’. I know the reason I don’t have a bustling social calendar is my own social ineptitude! I am a terrible friend. I don’t call. I rarely email. I make no real efforts to foster a new friendship or to keep one alive.

I’ve never had trouble making “situational’ friends. If I see someone frequently, we become quite friendly. But as soon as that regular contact dies…it’s out of sight, out of mind. Well, not truly out of mind – I frequently think of those lost relationships, but don’t make the effort to reach out.

I’m not sure what my problem is. Maybe early rejection by peers makes me hesitant to put myself out there. Whatever the case. I can literally count on 1 hand the number of people I consider close to me. And that includes Banky (who, truly is my best friend and makes me happy every single day.)

So, happy, gregarious friendless loser meets poker. What happens then?

Well, I can easily say that poker has expanded my circle of friends. Poker has also expanded my horizons, and introduced me to wonderful people from many walks of life. I’ve slung chips and shared laughs with sports agents, bankers, coffee truck drivers, architectural students, used car salesmen, teachers, engineers, retail clerks, and computer technicians. I've socialized (both at and away from the felt), with people I never would have met otherwise.

It's strange, because I've become friends with people I regularly try to win money from. But there’s a camaraderie, and a sense of competition that draws us together.

Poker blogging has introduced me to another whole set of IFF’s (and some now visible ones). I’ve been happily amazed that there are people who regularly read my blog, and I can feel the beginnings of real friendships blooming. Through my writing, and reading of their writing, there’s a connection that feels very real.

And there are many others who touched me deeply when I shared some sad news early in the summer. Their simple comments meant more than could be imagined. While many of those commenters (and those who commented on our recent good news) aren’t close friends (at least not yet) – I felt embraced by a community at large. And that, my dears, is what poker has given me – a sense of belonging. And for a girl in a corner with a book, that’s pretty awesome.


Thanks for reading this self-indulgent series of posts. I did it more for me than for anyone…but I hope you learned a little more about me in the process.

And now, to read some REAL writing, head on over to Truckin’…

February 2008, Vol. 7, Issue 2
Benson and Hedges by Paul McGuire I looked at her arms and wrists. She didn't appear to be a cutter, but she listened to a lot of angry indie chick rock and idolized Ani DiFranco. Her sullenness always bothered me. I wanted to try to talk to her, but it was not easy. She used to sit in her room and drink alone... More

2. Declaration of Independence and Love by Betty Underground It felt like I had stopped breathing for minutes as he brushed his lips across mine, without touching them. Dusting them like feathers. My head grew light as he teased me. I was frozen. Suffocated by desire... More

3. The Big Empty by Johnny Hughes Ever time I see Dowd, he gets shorter. Used to be taller than me. They say he puts a drop of honey on everything he eats, and he gets Chinese herbs from a chiropractor... More

4. Squirrel Hunting with Pudddin' Tooth by Clay Champlin I was merely a hunter trying to kill him before he made it home. Without a word I pointed at the little grey dot bounding across the forest floor. Puddin' Tooth sprung to his feet, and we were off tracking the beast... More

5. Dragon Slayers and the Angry Villagers by Mini Waffles J and A heard about a war and it was about the angry villagers and the Charlyaters but the angry villagers had to fight to keep their lands. Then they signed up... More


BamBam said...

I'm super glad you finished this series. It's all great reading.

I HEART PokerTart !!!!!

Mr. Bankwell said...

You are my best friend too, I guess we are just the same when it comes to friends.

Anonymous said...

That quiet girl in the corner with her book is always welcome in TuckFard Town. She has friends there.