The (Ine)qualities of True Friendships

Just finished my latest short story – The Things We Find Behind The Door – which takes place in late 1997, and is another one about those super-intense teenage friendships that I believe most of us have experienced.

The story:

Two young women with lots of ‘baggage’ try to figure out what is real and not real in their friendship.

In this story we have Carrie and Lin, who have been living under the same roof for some time, after Lin bought an apartment for them in Columbus, Ohio, before their undergraduate studies are about to begin in earnest in the autumn of 1997.

Lin, of course, inherited a large sum from her distant father, IT-millionaire Theodoros Christakis, who died tragically on a business trip, because he … well … got killed by a hooker. Her mum is on and off in England with her new boyfriend.

So needless to say, Lin has a lot of problems because both her dad – and her mum – weren’t really there for her at any time during her life, and she tries to cope with her dysfunctional upbringing by escaping into her literature studies, author-ambitions and role-playing.

And, of course, hanging out with her best friend, Carrie Sawyer McDonnell, an insecure Scottish girl who moved to the US 2 years ago after her mother went through a nasty divorce from her father.

Carrie and Lin are, I suppose, what you could call kindred spirits. They are both very creative – Carrie is drawing and Lin is writing – and this is the glue that keeps them together, aside from a natural, although possibly surprising, personal chemistry.

They are also both ‘damaged goods’ coming from broken, dysfunctional families, and so there is a reasonable argument that their friendship is also built on a shared sense of being ‘alone together’: They are both in pain. They both feel alone with this pain. But they also feel that it is good to hang out with somebody who in many ways got the same raw deal from life.

The concrete problem this time, though, is that Carrie is increasingly jealous of Lin’s wealth (and hates herself for her own poverty). She has to decide if she wants to keep living in the same apartment as her best friend, after this jealousy has surfaced more than once and soured their relationship.

How Much Inequality Can A Friendship Bear?

I think we can all relate to money coming between us in friendships or relationships, and doubt beginning to creep in:

Is she only my friend because I have money?

Is he only buying me this or that because he likes to feel better than me by showing how much surplus he has?

Such inequalities in friendships or romantic relationships I have experienced all through my life, but obviously it is easier – most of the times – to recognize them as you get older.

They are in any case very interesting – and important – to explore. Because at the end of the day you can’t really have a friendship or a relationship, such as a marriage, where the partners are too unequal. At least that is my firm belief. Where you draw the line, though, that’s another story.

So this theme interests me a lot but … 

I would say that I usually don’t have any specific plan in mind when I sit down to write. It’s a lot about stream-of-consciousness and just letting it out, whenever I have the chance. (Which I rarely have due to family and work commitments.)

So this time I think I felt like writing about intense teenage friendships and then the specific problem about the money and Carrie’s sense of self-worth, that was something that came into the mix later.

I like to write that way! It’s in many ways like a journey of exploration to an unknown country 🙂

Links To Other Stories

The story should be able to stand on its own, but I guess it is best read and understood along with the other short stories I have written so far about Carrie’s teenage years in Cleveland and later her study years in Columbus, Ohio.

So if I were to collect these stories I’ve done until now about Carrie and Lin in a book, which would lead up to this particular story, then I’d recommend the reading order shown below – (where you can also see the years and dates on which the stories take place):

1995

1996

1997

And there are more stories after this … 

I guess there will always be inequalities in any kind of relationship to deal with – whether friendship, business, romantic or whatnot. But I also feel that what really matters is now you deal with those inequalities if they start to become a problem. 

And that’s also what this story is about. I’m not sure Carrie’s solution is the right one, but it is obviously one she needs.

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