Your signature line at Drew used to read in part, "Well, in a nutshell, I'm not sure I can fit myself into a nutshell. I'm something akin to something that can not be explained."
This came to mind, when I tried to determine why this has taken so long. The fact of the matter is that every time I started writing I got interrupted. Every time I returned to what I'd written, it didn't seem to fit and I had to start over. Perhaps the problem is that complex relationships and interactions can't be fit into nutshells any better than the people participating in them can.
A meme went around LJ a few months ago, although most of my friends didn't do it, which asked people to reply by listing a single word that they feel best described or related to the person asking. If I were going to pick just one word for you, I think the word would be challenge. When I met you, you were challenging the whole world to accept everything about you. You have repeatedly challenged my perceptions and my outlook, and while you have seldom changed my opinions, you have made me consider the reasons for them. Most recently, of course, I've found it a challenge to write this essay.
Sometimes it has been a challenge to be friends, too. Your interests and mine have always diverged sharply, and some times are sharper than others. It's quite ironic that at a time when I've successfully renewed one friendship that had fallen by the wayside, and am actively working on re-establishing another, I haven't much to say to you. But something I've learned over the years, from you and from others, is that friendship isn't as simple as a light switch; without catastrophic events, it's not just on or off. It's more like a dimmer switch. Sometimes it's very bright and intense. Sometimes it's so dim you can barely tell it's on at all. Most of the time it's somewhere in between. In the long run, I suppose it comes down to a statement I learned first about family, but which holds true for friends, lovers, and even ourselves: You don't always have to like the person, you just have to love them.
This isn't a happy feel-good kind of essay. I imagine I'll be getting a couple of nasty comments, either on the content or on the timing. However, one of the most refreshing parts of our friendship has always been that we could tell it like it is, whether that's brutally honest or even downright nasty, and still see both the value of the statement and the affection behind it. There's a line from a song in the musical Mame, "Only your bosom buddy will tell you how rotten you are." Furthermore, my impression of you is that you would rather make someone think than have them say something nice anyway. You have most certainly succeeded, both today and as long as I've known you, in making me think, in making me re-evaluate what I think and how I think. In challenging me. I consider this to be a good thing. I hope you agree.