I like my literary friends more than I’ll ever like you.

Dear everyone,

I don’t want to be your friend. I don’t want you to try and find common ground with me, we have none. I do not enjoy idle conversation nor do I suffer from the delusion that there is something to like in everyone – least of all me. I am not likable, I am not friendly, I am barely and I don’t need you to try and find out that there is no silver-lining to my permanent rain cloud. The handful of people that I love have very low expectations of me, and I have very high expectations of them. I am the most conditional person you will ever meet. 

My list of conditions for friendship and love is a mile long, and varies upon each relationship. I expect that people will understand that I cannot always help being rude, that I often prefer my own company to anyone else’s, and I generally only surround myself with people whom I feel are at least on the same intellectual level than me. If, however, I determine that you can out-knowledge me, I will probably stop being your friend. I have always been the smartest person I know, and it’s easier to weed out the genius’s than it is to cram more into my already illustrious mind palace.

Having said all of that, if I love you, I love you. If you meet all of my expectations and still have the decency to stick around, then we are bonded for life. I don’t need a lot of people to feel emotionally satisfied, and the benefit to that is that I can be as picky as I want, and only allow the people who I think are perfect fits into the life of myself and of my children. When the love is gone, no hard feelings. I won’t waste any more of your time than necessary, and hopefully you will respect me enough to call it a day when you’ve had enough. I don’t get hurt feelings, it’s not in my programming. 

I very rarely try new things. 

I don’t like being made to listen to new music that you think is awesome, I don’t want to watch your fucking indie films that were totally underrated this year, and I’m not in any book clubs for a reason. I don’t deal well with change. I like what I like, which isn’t very much. I’ve been listening to the same bands, watching the same genre of movie, and I’ve been reading the same books for longer than I can remember. My innermost circle of friends are completely fictional. (I have a very small group of actual human friends, they know who they are, and they know that they are all riding bitch to my book mates).

In real life I struggle to make friends. I have trouble understanding people’s motives for wanting to obtain my friendship, and I have no inner-censorship to help me know what I should or shouldn’t say at any given time. When I get nervous I become sarcastic (but I think I’m funny), and this characteristic more often bites me in the ass than helps break the ice. If I engage you and you bore me, I tell you that you’re boring and I walk away. It’s nothing personal, I just don’t think being a casual friend is worth my effort. You’re probably great, I’m sorry.

I think my biggest problem with air-breathers is that they evolve too quickly and too often. You are not, as a species, static. You change and form new opinions based on things that you learn or experience, and you grow and change to constantly be the best version of yourself. I don’t operate that way. I am resolute in opinions and static in thought processes. I don’t care how things are evolving, I am happy with they way things were. I do not change, and the thought of having to do something new or differently is terrifying and panic inducing. I am sedimentary rock. I am packed layers of solidarity that yes, erode over time, but always remain layers of rock.

It takes more than a rainfall to wash my layers away. 

The character that I resemble the most is Christopher Tietjens. He is the protagonist in the Parade’s End quadrilogy (Ford Maddox Ford). I identify so cleanly with him because he knows only how to be himself. He prides himself on being educated, he values knowledge over friendships or money, and his goal is to live as simply and honourably as possible. Inevitably, the rest of the characters begin to loathe him, if most of all perhaps because they deem him to be so pure and honourable that they all tarnish by being in the same room as him. Having said that, I also identify very closely with his wife, Sylvia. I believe she reacts nicely with the psychopath inside of me. She tortures her husband out of boredom, and perhaps ignorance. She is determined to find humanesque flaws within him, he of course has none. She is beautiful, educated, and arrogant, and I understand the frustration that she feels in being married to a good man. We both married above our intellect, and now we suffer in knowing that we are a dark cloud over the good men we’ve roped into marrying us. If you are interested in classics, or enjoy ‘hard reads’ I recommend anything by Ford Maddox Ford, but especially Parade’s End.

(Full disclosure: My favourite actor slash boyfriend plays Chrissy in the 5-part miniseries that was produced for the BBC. Having said that, the Chrissy that lives in my head is NOT Benedict Cumberbatch. He is described quite differently in the book, and the literary version is the one whom I identify with the most. I watch the miniseries almost as often as I read the book, they are both amazing pieces of work that deserve more attention.)

Chrissy Tietjens, in spite of all of his perfectness and righteousness and his not existing in real life, is my best friend. He is my moral compass (with the exception of the times when I can’t control my emotions, see:psychopathy). He is logical, meaningful, and helps guide me to be a more honest, and respectable person. The best part about him is that he does not change. Sorry humans, but this is what makes him worth more to me than any of you. No matter what, he will never change. His story is set in stone, and no matter what happens, he will not change as a character. I cannot bring him into the present or future and ask him to change, because it is impossible – I did not create him. Just as I cannot ask you to change for me, I cannot ask it of Christopher, either; but that’s what I like. I need things in my life that stay as constant as I do, it is a safety net, a teddy bear, something for me to retreat into when the real world gets too much for me to handle. There are several book characters that I use as stability for my life, and I don’t regret it. I need them. I was not built to move as fast as the rest of the world, and I am easily scared by the Earth turning beneath me. Instead of constantly trying to keep up, I can hop into a book and forget everything for a few hours, emotionally recharge, and enjoy myself a little, before I repair the person-mask that I wear when I leave the house. I will never function like a normal person, but over the past few years I’ve come to accept that as more of an interesting part of my personality than a fatal flaw. At the very least, I am exceptionally well read, so if you feel it absolutely necessary to engage me in conversation, try and make it about a book, OK? (Classics, preferably, I don’t do YA, or really anything written after 1948.) 

P.S., I do enjoy comic books. Star Trek. Actually, that’s it. I was going to write a list, but my collection is made up entirely of Star Trek. I’m not sorry. Trek fuckin’ rules. 

P.P.S., I realise that this post feels a little negative, but I have been feeling the pressures of my kids being in school, and me being required to be civil to parents that I have no interest in being friends with. I know that my being kind to them directly benefits my children, but it leads to a lot of anxiety for me that I find exceptionally hard to deal with. 

I’m going to read now. 


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