Friends. It's a funny looking word, isn't it? We all have them. We all want them. We have best ones and good ones old ones and new ones close ones and long distance ones. We have some we refer to as 'acquaintances'. They come and go throughout our lives. Some are for a day, some for years and some for a lifetime. We have childhood friends, work friends, friends of friends and now, Facebook friends. We can even 'un-friend' someone and they may not know for weeks or months!
As I watch my kids form and break bonds of friendship, I am reminded of my childhood friends. Who they were. How we ended up being friends. What kept us together or led to our drifting apart. What we learned from each other and what their purpose in our lives was and our purpose in theirs.
The first real friend I remember is my friend Tammy. Our mothers were good friends so it made sense their children were good friends. Sound familiar? A pattern repeated over and over generation to generation. We had a blast running in corn fields, playing dress up and dancing up a storm. I remember chasing fireflies in June, an A-frame house in Vermont and her mother's love of owls and all animals. We drifted apart because they moved. I attended her wedding and baby shower. We're Facebook friends. There is still a connection, it's just not anything like it used to be.
Then there was Todd. They lived in the other side of the duplex when I was very small. I remember sitting in a laundry basket with him, he and his friend locking me in the dog house (an actual dog house) when we played 'cops and robbers' and trying to pee standing up like he did. I was unsuccessful, well, if you measure success by actually not peeing on your feet.
I remember my childhood friend Patricia. We were in school together and she lived nearby. Somehow, we ended up friends through elementary school and middle school. We skated together, hung out together and discovered boys together. We drifted apart in middle school due to different interests and different high schools. I wonder where she is now and what she's doing...
High school. That is where the lasting bonds were formed for me. I still keep in touch with many friends from high school. Some of them almost daily! In fact with most of them, we shared but one or two classes in all 4 years, but forged the deepest and strongest of bonds. We may have lost touch through the college years as we went off and got all serious with our S.O's and even got married (all of us in each other's weddings, of course). Somehow, we've managed to stay in touch and connected all these years. 25, but who is counting? Shhhhhhh.
College friends were transient. As soon as we graduated, we lost touch. The same is true of many work friends. Until Facebook.
The age of Facebook has brought about an interesting phenomenon. A re-friending of sorts. A re-connection with many I've known since elementary school, but were never really more than an acquaintance with. I am pleasantly surprised and touched by some of the comments they leave, the things they post, how we've all grown and matured and the many difficult life experiences we've all endured. It's heartwarming to see how we can support each other virtually and re-kindle that childhood friendship via social media. It's a bit odd, but it's nice to be able to support others in a positive way and learn about things and people we might otherwise never have had the opportunity to. It's a shame we didn't have the same insight, maturity and compassion in high school as we all do now.
Facebook also brings about the 'fake' friends. The ones that you friend or want to friend you just because they grew up in your town or know someone you know. It boggles my mind how many young people have 500+ friends! Really? Are they really friends? I don't think so. Half my friends are family! It cracks me up how people 'un-friend' you because they disagree with your philosophical or political point of view, or don't agree with your parenting style. How hurtful some people can be toward one another. It's ridiculous! What ever happened to mutual respect?
Then there are the friends that are no longer friends. Ones I 'lost' in the divorce. Yes, it turns out some take sides. Whatever.... I guess they were not really my friends if that's how it went down. I really didn't lose any sleep over it.
The ones that I've had a 'falling out' with, because of our own baggage/issues, those are the hardest to integrate. They are the ones I miss the most, at least now and again. The ones that for whatever reason (there are many and not nearly enough time to explain here) are unable to confront the demons that led us away from each other. Those are the most difficult because they meant the most. I miss the nature of the friendship as much as the person. I don't have that same relationship with anyone else. I probably never will. I know it's all for the greater good, but still, now and again, it hurts to not have that person to share my joys and sorrows with. Do I reach out? Do I let it go? I trust when the time is right, I'll know what I'm supposed to do and when... In the meantime, the best I can do is surround us all with love and light and hope we all do the work we need to in order to heal and move on. I must admit, I do hope someday we have the chance to open that door again. Not only to resolve the things left on the table, but to move into the next place with a clear understanding of everything and maybe to forge a new relationship...
On the other hand, when one door closes, another opens. The dissolution of that friendship with my former BFF, led me down a path of insight, spiritual development and personal growth. It led me to new friends and more friends of friends, even if they are sort of 'borrowed', I do feel as if some of them are truly 'mine'. Not in the sense of possession, but in the sense of the emotional and spiritual bond, the connection, the 'click' that happens to make it a 'right' relationship. I guess it's confirmation I'm on the right path.
What I regret the most is how little time I have for any of them. If it were not for Facebook and email, I'd have none since I'm terrible at keeping in touch otherwise! Our lives get overtaken by our jobs, our kids, our hobbies and our spouses/significant others. There are only so many hours in the day. I love that I email almost daily with one friend. Often multiple times a day! We mostly share our stress, our to do list and cheer each other on when we need cheering. It's huge. We 'hear' each other. We are each other's sounding board and it saves our sanity. Well, so we think. As for some other friends, we can go weeks or months without talking or seeing each other and pick up where we left off as if no time had passed at all.
Still, we shouldn't neglect our friends or ourselves. We need that support, that bond, that fun and camaraderie. We need soul sisters and brothers to laugh and cry with. Who *get* us. Who know when to call us out and when to just show up with a bottle of wine and a box of chocolate.
What I do know is that I'm grateful for all of them.