Divorce can make friendships complicated. Your coupled friends may not know what to do with you. They'll be nice at first, but maintaining those friendships over time gets tricky. Husbands and wives often feel like they have to choose one divorcing spouse over the other. Usually, those kinds of friendships will just fade away over time. Some people think divorce is contagious. People scatter. More than likely, those friends were topsoil friends, not root friends.
Men often don't have a network of "besties" to help them through a divorce. Our guy friends are busy with work and their kids' sports schedules, often helping out with coaching duties or whatnot. You'll get a few offers to "grab a beer" and catch up, but those offers will go away. Divorce for men can be very isolating.
But, there is that one friend. You know the one, that one buddy who sticks it out with you. I'm not talking about a family member. They are huge, but they are family so it's a little different. I'm talking about that friend that steps up when you need him the most. The guy that will let you cry or get pissed off, but also call you on your bullshit when necessary. He's the one friend that is still there after the wind stops slapping you around and you've weathered the storm. My friend's name is Andy.
I know tons of people: acquaintances, work friends, neighbors, but I can only count a few of them as real friends, true core friendships. Andy was a guy I knew from work; we were school teachers. Initially, we bonded in the trenches of the educational system. Over several years, our friendship spilled over from work to include concerts, movies, maybe a dinner on occasion. Margaritas with migas and fajitas would become our standard fare at our favorite dive. At some point, Andy "came out" to me as gay. Something which I suspected, but never asked. Frankly, I felt it was not my business.
Now you may be wondering why this is important? I'm not sure it is at all. But here's the thing. Andy, my only close friend who is gay, stood by me and all of my straight friends were nowhere to be seen. Gay friends: 1 for 1. Straight friends: 0 for a hell of a lot. This small sample, my circle of friends, is not large enough to draw any conclusions. I also believe a person's sexuality is one of the least interesting things about them. But that fact struck me for some reason. This was my reality of post divorce friendships.
So here's what happened after my divorce. Andy was my wingman. I was his. This meant I ventured into nearly every gay bar in Austin, Texas. I'd never been to one before. I learned that the bartenders at gay bars give you better service and the dance floors are much more fun than at straight bars. And yes, there are single, straight girls in gay bars. An interesting fact I had never considered.
I learned that a good friend knows paying child support leaves you mostly broke, and, every once in awhile, will pick up the tab at dinner with no strings attached.
When things got complicated and I needed a place to crash, a room was always available without hesitation.
A true friend will help you move your furniture. This singular act may be the largest litmus test of a true friendship. (Seinfeld fans know what I'm talking about) How many of your friends would help you move a couch with a hide-away bed? I was way too broke to hire movers, so Andy stepped up, more than once, possible hernias be damned.
When your daughter gets baptized, and you are going to the service all alone, a good friend offers to come with you without you having to ask. This is a gesture I will never forget.
Andy knew my world, but his world was one I knew little about in actuality. Within his circle of friends, Andy vouched for me. His friends were my friends and they treated me with an openness I had never seen before. Years later, I'm still friends with a few of the guys I met through Andy. I am not sure if this is how it is in every gay community, but I get the feeling they are mostly tight knit groups.
I'm not sure Andy realizes how much it means to me that I can look back on our history with so much gratitude. He helped make me a better person, but also helped me laugh when not much was funny. Guys aren't always the best at sharing their feelings, or heartfelt thank yous. So here goes:
Thanks for everything. Thanks for giving me something to do during those times when I would have been at home alone missing my kids. Thanks for the laughs. Thanks for the adventures. Thanks for the margaritas. Thanks for teaching me that a friend in not a friend unless they are are there during the bad times. You stepped up. You were the only one who did. I'll never forget it.
You are a good friend and I'm lucky to be yours.
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