The way I view friendship now is a lot different than during my high school days.
Growing up, my mom raised me to view friendships as transactional. If the other person had nothing to offer me, they weren't worth my time.
I had a high school best friend that lived 30 minutes from my house, and my mom would always scorn my visits to her by asking me why I was wasting my gas and my time. Another childhood friend, my mom discouraged me from visiting because she thought she was a bad and selfish influence (she wasn't), even though she was the daughter of her (my mom's) best friend. As a last example, I had a middle school photo with another friend I truly respected, but my mom cut her face out, leaving only a silhouette of me.
I regret how this upbringing affected my friendships during my early years of college. I had to unlearn this toxic perspective. I found a proxy mother in my college best friend's mother. My friend and her mother showed me endless and unconditional love. They didn't keep track of the favors they lauded on me and were only concerned with helping me to feel that my college experience felt like a home away from home.
I also learned from my partner that friendship consists simply of people who mutually enjoy time spent together and are willing to help one another if needed, regardless of distance. Reciprocity tends to follow, especially if your close friends value you as you value them.
As a result of my mother, my childhood bedroom is currently a discomforting shrine to me, with only photos of me and my awards. But I want to fill it with photos of me with my friends, family, and others. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.
I'm aspiring to be more like my father, whose genuine kindness has earned the respect and friendship of countless others. Last night, an old friend offered annual Christmas gifts as a thank you gift. My dad tells me that he helped this former employee start his own plumbing business after he had no more to mentor him by giving him all his customers in San Jose. This man was able to buy a $1.7USD million house in cash only eight years later. My father also gives generous red envelopes (cash gifts) to workers, some non-English-speaking immigrants, he works with on a regular basis. His friendships are subtly Vito-Corleone-esque, transactionality a byproduct rather than intention, but out of genuine goodwill.
Here's to a 2019 of re-connection, goodwill, good faith, and love.