I woke up today, after having some odd and disturbing dreams including my dad telling me to put on a bra and my middle son being held down in a pool, thinking about how people come in and out of your life, and why. There was my dad in my dream, dead now 15 years, and I pondered the idea that there is this revolving door that just keeps going around and around, sometimes letting people in, sometimes taking them away. It all seems very random and slightly absurd. BECAUSE IT IS!

When you are little, you don't really have a lot of choice who is in your life. It is pretty much your family, your neighbors, and the kids at school. If you like what they like, that makes a good buddy. I have seen this with my own children as well, especially with the oldest as he is the most socially gifted of the three. How they sort out their friends is yet another very consistent character trait, I am seeing, little changed from early childhood to now. The oldest gravitates toward boys of three types: crazy, smart, or crazy and smart, i.e., Jackass, Einstein, or the ever-thrilling Jackass Einstein. The girls he picks are usually very bright or very not, brave in their personal outward expression, and older. When I look at him these days, I feel like I should be peeking through my fingers and cringing. I really hope Jackass Einstein and Older Bright Pink Hair treat him well.

My middle son is very quiet and dreamy, easily pleased but balks like a mule, stubborn and silent, if there is something he does not want to do or he feels pushed. He is utterly unsophisticated, guileless, and mostly quite sweet, and it is him that I worry about the most. His way has been to have one very very very very good friend, to the exclusion of the rest of the world, someone generally quite like him but a bit bolder and nuttier, someone who makes him laugh. He seems to get along with everyone else, but doesn't really pay that much attention to them either. He never understands why anyone would give him any trouble, but sometimes they have, probably just for that reason. My older son seems to have the revolving door on Super Spin; my middle son has it set on Ultra-Slow. He treasures his One Buddies, with more real appreciation and depth than one would expect from someone of ten. This makes him stronger, and more vulnerable too.

Now, my daughter. It is a little too early for me get the total picture, but this is what I see: BY GOD, you are gonna know if she is in the room. ALL EYES ON. She has had many friends, boys and girls, but no real best friends. She is too volatile, too flighty, and maybe a little too afraid to care for someone that much. She is popular because she is pretty and bright and funny and bold, and shunned because she also has a hot temper and a nasty mouth, hits and kicks in anger, blames everyone else. I see part of her wanting so much to connect with people and please them, and part of her unable to do it. Already, boys bring her little gifts and notes. Already, she sees more at six than she can possibly reconcile or understand. I don't know if her revolving door is on Super Mega Hyper Spin, or stopped dead cold. Yet I see her the other day, as we are leaving school, grabbing the hands of a girl she has known since she was a toddler, and wishing her a good evening, smiling, connecting. The other girl smiles and holds my daughter's hands, and says "see you tomorrow," accepting and kind.

WHOA! It has just occurred to me that my daughter IS Jackass Einstein! HOLY SHIT! Well, that calls for a hot, creamy-rich cup of Arsenic Bean Coffee. Hang on here while I get me some.

My own revolving door is worn and clattery; too many probably let in, plenty shoved right on out. I have dear friends of long long years that I hope never push the heavy door to leave, friends who would like to get in and I can't seem to allow it. Such a wide range of people over the course of a lifetime, many met through common passions and interests, some through sheer proximity. I have tried all my life to be a good and true friend to most, sometimes long past what was smart or deserved, and I am pleased that there are a few people out there who think of me as their friend and that I am as valuable to them as they are to me. I am a combination of all of my children, I guess: friend to all, close friend to just a very few, wanting connection and wanting to be alone.

Ffup ffup ffup, goes the door. By choice, and sometimes not.