“I don’t know you any more”
|April 13, 2012||Posted by Rosie Watterson under lifestyle|
A few days ago, my best friend Georgia’s mother yelled, “I don’t know you any more,” mid argument. OK, she was seeing red at the time, but she had a point. Georgia hasn’t gotten on with her mother for years and most of the time she avoids going home for this reason. But how long does it really take to stop knowing someone? How many unspoken opinions and hidden passions does it take before neither person actually knows the other?
We like to think we know lots of people. It makes us feel secure. But if Georgia’s mother doesn’t know her, then surely we have set the standards of “knowing” too low. Think about it: what is knowing? Is it recognising someone? Is it being able to predict how they will act in a given situation? Is it knowing what they like and dislike? Or is it getting regular updates on how they feel?
For the last 10 years Richard has been my friend. He is my oldest friend and our long distance relationship has survived on the occasional letter and phone call, with the odd visit every couple of years. Understandably, I thought I knew Richard; this was until recently when I spent a few days with him. Staying up until the early hours of the morning talking, drinking, and occasionally crying, we shared feelings we would never have considered sharing over the phone. On the train home, it struck me: before that weekend I had considered myself to be his friend, though actually I barely knew him, and I’m sure he felt the same. How many people do I think I know, but whom I actually only recognise and remember?
We all know someone who made a brilliant first impression but, after learning about their terrible track record or substance abuse, we then saw in a different light. I’m not getting into the morality of this, it’s just how it is. I have been referencing “knowing” as if it is a truly positive thing, but I can think of a handful of former friends that I originally liked but, after discovering a more violent streak, I couldn’t stand. They didn’t change, I just knew more. And so I ask: is it better that Georgia’s mother doesn’t know her? Is it better that you don’t know someone you love, rather than dislike them? Because – and I’m sure you’ll agree – ignorance is far easier to live with than dislike.
I’ll leave you with a thought that has been puzzling me for the last week: is knowing someone a fluid concept? Can you know a friend more one day than the next? Is it something you work on, hoping you like what you find? Or is it a tick box? Maybe one day you’ll wake up, the sun will be shining, the sky bluer than before, and you’ll realise today is the day you truly know them. No going back.