Sunday, July 28, 2013

Who Your Real Friends Are

One thing I've discovered after three months of riding my motorcycle across the country, is that friends are not necessarily who I thought they were.

I mean, we all have friends.

But there are friends who will call you or keep in touch with you somehow no matter where you are.  Even if they can't be with you physically, they still want to stay touch with you in some form or another. 

So before I left San Diego, I had friends that I rode with.  We called each other, often to arrange a group ride, or just to get folks together to hang out somewhere.  But now that I'm out of town, indefinitely, I don't get calls from them.  At best, I get comments or Likes on my Facebook posts, and even then it's not often.

To be fair, I don't really call them on the phone either.  Perhaps you get what you give.

But moving away from a permanent residence is a great way to find out who really cares about you.  And maybe by moving away I've discovered that I'm a poor friend.

On the other hand, I've been like this my entire life.  Solitude has been my comfort, as I don't socialize very well.  I find it difficult to engage in conversation, and do better at expressing myself in writing.  Being on the road and never putting down roots seems to feel at home to me for that very reason.

Friendships exist in varying degrees like anything else.  The more you put into a friend, the more he or she pays you back.  I'd be happy to put more into the friends I had, except I always had this thought in my head that I was bothering them.  I didn't want to be the guy that people didn't want to have around.  So, I left them alone.

I had thought that my friends would post comments on Road Pickle, or even this blog, Motorcycle Philosophy, but they don't, and I wonder why that is.  Are they also concerned about bothering me? Or did I just not invest much of myself into those friendships?  Or do I have a habit of friending people who don't comment on blogs?

I guess that's an insecurity of mine.

Somehow, it has influenced my decision to make motorcycling a major part of my life.  

Part of the equation is that a couple of years ago I divorced my first wife, shed some of the facades I hid behind, and made myself a little more transparent.  I remarried to a woman who did the same thing.  The friends we used to have were people who liked our old selves.  Now that we're more focused on the being the real people we are inside, much of those people don't like what they see.

But despite the cold, silent demeanor I often put forth, I'm really quite the opposite inside.  I yearn for companionship, for friends that I can open up and share the more intimate sides of me.  I have much to tell to someone interested in making an investment in one another.  But again, my social skills are poor.

I often wonder how many other motorcycle riders are like me.  Is this a characteristic of people who leave everything behind and spend their lives riding across the country?  Am I subconsciously running away from my insecurities, or am I testing my friends to find out who really cares?



  1. This is really profound! As a fairly introverted rider I probably share some of the qualities mentioned above.

    The decision to take up motorcycling... well, most people view bikes as dangerous and unusual activity, to say the least. For one who's not comfortable with social situations, just jumping on a bike can be an excellent test of friendship. Leave them to do the gossiping and tongue flapping while you ride. Actions speak louder than words.

    I used to draw all sorts of things, but have begun to focus solely on motorcycles and the attending culture. I've noticed a steady decline in 'likes' and overall interest in my work as a result, especially from friends. Which hasn't really been much of a bother since the satisfaction I get from doing what I want far outweighs social media gratification. Not to mention the refreshing lack of constraints and pressure to do something conforming to society's tastes.

    The yearning for companionship is pretty normal. Insecurities are always there and no amount of miles will bring anyone further away from them. One reason, I suppose, for travelling via motorcycle is to find experiences that challenge these insecurities. Which is more or less what you're doing, so I think you'll be fine.

  2. I am not a social butterfly by any means. I find I don't have a lot in common with people locally and thus don't really hang out with anyone. Luckily I am married to my best friend.

    It could be that your friends from before your trip just aren't the phone type people. I am much better via email and texting and rarely pick up the phone. No awkward silences while typing out an email......

    And if people don't like you for the you that you are and have become - they aren't your friends, they're merely people you know.

  3. I read something a long time ago that made me feel a little better: Most people are simply incapable of truly being your friend. It's not that they don't mean well, just that they simply can't do it.

    Going through some kind of massive upheaval (divorce, moving away, leaving on an open-ended trip) will definitely make it clear who your real friends are.

    Treasure the ones who stick around.

    1. And I think that's true. Somehow, I've pursued friendships with people who are incapable of being my friend.

  4. Steve, interesting take on friendship and what it means to be a friend. I guess I'm not an overly social person either. I like being around people but am not much of a conversationalist. I'd like to think I have lots of friends and that people see me as a friend, but the reality is most are just acquaintances. When I was in the military we moved every few years and my wife and I met many people we now call friends but there are only a handful that we keep up with or talk to on a regular basis. I've decided that it isn't really important how many friends you have, what's important is the quality of relationships you have with a few "friends". Cherish the few. ~Curt

    1. Like I said, you get what you give. It takes two to be friends. I really cherish Sash, though I often feel as if I don't give enough back to her as she's given me.

    2. You give me so much of yourself! I'm so, so lucky to even know you, not to mention being the one you chose for your wife!

      But by far the best thing you give me is the opportunity to know the real you. As you've told me so many times, I'm the first person to get to see him. And now look at you! You just showed him to the world in this article!!

      Keep giving him a voice and you'll attract real friends, my darling. I know I love you more than riders love their motorcycles. And THAT is love!

      Kisses, Sash

  5. Steve, a very thought provoking post. After reading this post I felt like it could have been written by me. Perhaps we all go through the same things at some point in our lives? be who you want to be, and not who others want to be, good friends will stick around.

  6. In fairness, I think it's worth noting that men are generally shit at keeping in touch. Even gay men are no good at it. And if you have female friends, well they may feel a little awkward about keeping too close to a married man. Especially when they'd have Sash to deal with if they crossed the line.

    But certainly much of what you say is true. When I moved to the UK that resulted in my slipping off a fair few Christmas card lists. And I'm pretty sure that going through a divorce pushed a few more people away. On the subject of divorce, I think some people pulled away from me because they subconsciously felt I had caught some kind of disease that they didn't want infecting their own relationships.

    Case in point: A friend I have known for 25 years, whose faithfulness I would have bet my life on, wasn't there for my wedding last week. I had planned on having him as my best man. But when I had spoken to him a month or so before the day to ask about his travel arrangements he informed me only then that he wouldn't be attending because it was inconvenient.

    Distance and life changes. I suppose it's not surprising that they can so alter friendships. But knowing that doesn't make it any easier.

    1. All but one of the guys I ride motorcycles with showed up to my wedding with Sash. I felt really let down. Makes me wonder if they see her as some kind of threat to their own households. And yet somehow, I still find myself pursuing them for a closer friendship that I won't ever get. So all that takes me to where I am now, riding my motorcycle across the country indefinitely.

  7. A very interesting take on the relationships we have with ourselves and those around us. I think in some way our lives are in constant evolution with who we are, who we think others think we are and that in itself is constantly changing. Just talking about it has opened doors! A great read...

  8. A very insightful perspective. I think relationships are a constant evolution as we change and as those around us change. Friends will always be there in some capacity, and just talking about his has opened some doors...a good read!

  9. I can relate to this post Steve and I'll bet a lot of others could if they would admit it. In the fluid state of society today there are/were work friends, riding friends, bar friends, family friends, and assorted others. Why is it then when we don't see them regularly it is almost like they don't exist? Maybe it is just a method to prevent us from feeling like they let us down or something.

    Hell I am envious of your adventure, consider you and Sash friends, and I am sporadic at best on posting comments, but rest assured I am following along and enjoying the ride and view from your views.

  10. steve:

    I am learning the hard way that I try too hard to try to be friends with everyone and sometimes there is no reciprocation. I have a very limited "must meet" list. The others are just people I wouldn't mind meeting but only if they try to meet me half way. A wise person told me recently that if it was meant to be, then it will.

    Riding the Wet Coast

  11. I've found I like my own company the best and have very few people that I'd consider friends. As I ride around the country I find it hard to socialize but I would say that I have met and talked to more people on a motorcycle than I ever have in a car. I'm not sure I could travel with a wife or girlfriend for any length of time. You and Sash seem to have it all figured out but I'd make her get up and ride with me to go get tea so it wouldn't spill in my top case. :)

    1. Yeah! Well, she was aching this morning and really wanted a chai tea latte. You should have watched me bitch and moan as I washed out the top case in the hotel bathtub.


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)