#2, of course, has mellowed considerably over the years. :) [But is no less entertaining!]
When I was younger, I enjoyed being friends with dramatic people. People who always had crazy things happen to them. Who thought crazy things.
Crazy people were interesting! Normal people, not so interesting.
Some of those crazy friendships in the past came to bad ends, and pretty much always for the same underlying reason (at least according to my decade and a half later armchair analysis), whatever the external catalyst. I have a strong personality and crazy people, even super-popular crazy people, tended to get a little co-dependent on me. At about the time that I decided they didn’t really need me (my work here is done, fly little birdie) or I got uncomfortable with the situation and I wanted to let go, they would come to that realization as well but wouldn’t see that I wanted to let go too. So they’d do one of those crazy blow-ups that people do or I’d get the silent treatment that people do when they don’t want to have a crazy blow-up. (Or, most recently, one let me know that her therapist told her to stop associating with me.) And I’d cry (because I care and because I feel like I’m in middle school and I wonder what is wrong with me) and move on with my life.
These days I’m old. After the last incident (the coauthor whose therapist thinks God knows what about me), I said, that’s it, no more crazy friends. And that was that. My work is interesting enough that, unlike Matilda, I don’t have to find new ways to keep my super-agile mind occupied anymore. (Although I did do a geometry proof during a really bad job-talk last week, but I digress.) My life has been much more peaceful since then, probably because almost all of the drama in my life was vicarious through or directly caused by said crazy ex-friends, and with them gone I didn’t create my own.
The person who started this pattern, a college friend, emails me every few years to apologize for what she did to me back in college. I always email back saying no worries, great to hear from you, and basically ignoring the crazy part of the email. And that’s that. She also put me on a mailing list for her business a few years back (I took myself off multiple times). I hear from other folks about some of the more major dramas in her life, husband cheating, new husband, a baby (I think), and so on. I don’t need to know the details.
In college she was surrounded by adoring fans. She was beautiful and vivacious and popular like a movie-star (and a little bit of a user). I wonder what must have changed that she feels the need to keep contacting me. Or if nothing has changed, and she just needs more adoration than most folks have once they leave the institutionalized environments of high school and college.
In any case, I’m about to write my standard, “Great to hear from you… [broad personal and professional updates].” But nothing more.
Tell us about your friends from the past and what has changed as you’ve gotten older.