There is no doubt in my mind that close friends are essential to a happy and meaningful life. Humans are social animals and even we introverts suffer if we go too long without some sort real interaction with others of our species. Phone conversations, email, Twitter and Facebook can't replace the intimacy of a face to face conversation with another person sharing the same space. Cool as they are, even the new iPhones with video chat can't meet that need.
I don't have many friends (other than the characters in my head and the equally nebulous but cherished people I connect with online). Yet, I am blessed by the few friends I do have. They love me and would do anything for me ... I just can't figure out WHY.
It's not that I'm a bad person. I'm just not a very good friend. I don't intentionally neglect the people that mean so much to me, I just get ... distracted. I forget what day of the week it is, I miss appointments and don't return phone calls. I have no idea what time it is and am often surprised to find myself typing in the dark hours after sunset. It's gotten much worse since I began writing full time. But it's not the act of writing that's to blame. It's the computer monitor. You see, I write on a laptop, so I spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen.
Now don't get me wrong, computers are wonderful tools. I couldn't manage without one. But the monitors are pure evil. They suspend time and take over our brains, making us believe that the light from their little glowing screen is meeting all our physical and emotional needs. We don't feel pain, need to eat, sleep, shower, make love, talk, blink, or even pee.
But it's all a lie. The monitor doesn't really meet any of those needs, it only postpones them. As soon as something forces us to look away -- fire, smoke, or spurting arterial blood -- it all comes back with a vengeance. As soon as I log off, I know I'm going to need to hobble to the bathroom with my legs crossed then hope I can find that ziplock bag of trailmix under my bed before I collapse in exhaustion.
I escaped the evil monitor yesterday and spent the afternoon with a very good friend, Carol. She's done so much for me. Not only did she photograph my professional portrait, she's edited multiple drafts of Enchantment and even went to Orson Scott Card's workshop with me last June and made sure I didn't get freaked out by: the airports, the turbulence on the plane, the crowds, the pressure, having to drive a rental car, use a map or check into a hotel. She's not even a writer, but she paid her own way, and never complained about being left on her own while I was sequestered away in the workshop. I wouldn't have gone without her. Find Carol and samples of her work (including the photo on this blog) at http://www.facebook.com/SuperiorImaging
I have another friend that is always there for me. She rescued my daughter's wedding from my ineptitude and poor planning and even saved my life once, but that story would take a novel to tell. Speaking of novels, I need to get back to work. Wow, it's after three and I haven't even had breakfast. I blame the monitor.