Sunday, July 1, 2012

Reconnecting - Entry #12

This week I reconnected with a number of colleagues, spanning from graduate school to my current position.  Keeping connected with friends and colleagues that are not in close geographic proximity is a lot of work—on both ends.  Or it should be.  Sometimes I feel frustrated if, in my view, I am exerting an inordinate amount of energy to make an existing relationship work, but the effort is not reciprocated.  Do I continue my perseverance or admit to myself that the bond we once shared has evaporated?  Think of how many friends we retain from high school?  College?  Our professional lives?  My guess is there are only a select few we still stay in touch with on a consistent basis which could run the gamut from weekly to monthly to bi-annually.  Otherwise, staying connected could be a full-time job.  I do silently chuckle to myself when people brag about how many Facebook friends they have recorded.  Really?  That many?  Good for you.  But, I internally wonder if someone could be friends, no matter how loosely defined someone construes the word to, say, 1,000 people or more.

One card I sent out was to a couple I have known for over 30 years, dating back to graduate school.  The husband was in my wedding party, we use to hang out together at the old Ritz nightclub in Greenwich Village (where I saw the first U.S. tour of U2, Rockpile, and Split Enz), and occasionally consumed too much Chinese food.  Over the years we had talked, sporadically visited, and made countless promises for all of us to get together.  Distance has not been the barrier.  In fact, all of the people on last week’s list are within a 2 – 2 ½ hour radius.  The issue is carving out a dedicated period of time, which I promised in my correspondence to do sometime this summer.

I have known another colleague for almost the same amount of time.  I actually hired her as a Resident Hall Director and, in a quirk of fate, seven years later she hired me for the position I have held now for over 20 years.  We are good friends, confidantes, and have shared the high’s and low’s of life.  I included her on my list simply because I felt the need to convey these thoughts.  How many times do we really tell someone how appreciative we are for their friendship?  We could have a conversation, a real heart-to-heart, about anything and know we would receive an honest response or evaluation of the situation.  I don’t have many people in my professional life like this (not counting my wife).  I wanted to use the opportunity of The Writing Project to let her know.

One of the other individuals I wrote to had started his career at the University of Connecticut around the same time I had begun mine.  He could be categorized as one of those lifers (like myself) except a couple of years ago he announced he was leaving to take up a position in Boston.  Most of his friends and colleagues were in disbelief.  “Jim (not his real name)?” we chorused.  “Really?”  (It was actually a good move for a number of reasons).  I have been able to stay in touch, through the usual channels (i.e. email), but since my daughter lived near him and my mentee from the NASPA Region I New Professional Mentoring Institute also worked at his institution it was easier to stay connected.  However, my notecard did not delve into campus gossip, nor matters of state, or even family chatter.  Instead, I focused on one of the very important aspects of my life—golf.  He was good and I was someone that usually broke 100 (18 holes, not 9).  I now felt confident to tee up alongside him.  So, the game of golf and arranging a date to play was the focus.  We can talk about weightier matters on the course.

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