I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately; how it can grow as we grow or be left behind as our life paths take different directions. How we can be friends with someone for years without ever seeing them and then pick up where we left off the minute we set eyes on each other again.
How one misunderstanding can derail a relationship just as easily as a crisis shared can cement one. And how we come together in hard times to share the burdens and often share the good things that come after them. Some friendships last a lifetime; others last as long as we make them last. Being a friend is hard work, taking the bad with the good and muddling through the murky times.
Not all friendships are equal of course. People aren’t perfect and we carry baggage from our earliest years. No psychobabble here if you think about it. As babies, we are “me” people. My blanket, my teddy, my bottle, my mommy. Thus when we are old enough to interact with other “me” peers, we are told we need to share. If we throw a tantrum we may be told by well-meaning parents or teachers, “If you don’t learn to share, you won’t have any friends.” And the pressure is on. So, we share our toys, our thoughts, our lunches, whatever we think we need to…because having friends is a good thing. Right? Maybe. Unless the person you choose to offer friendship to is having none of it. Hurts, but most of us move on. If we’re really lucky, we find that one perfect friend and live happily ever…well not always.
As I said at the beginning, sometimes friends just outgrow each other. There’s a mutual parting of the ways, and when we see each other years later, a simple Hi, how are you is enough. If we recognize each other at all. In my experience this usually happens with elementary and high school friends. There’s really no need to catch up because we haven’t thought of each other in years. Our worlds have spun away quite neatly in the interim, linked only through class reunions.
Most of my friends these days are people I’ve worked with, enjoyed common interests with, or just like being with in my free time. We all have that baggage I talked about but we take that for granted. We share thoughts, sometimes secrets, discuss books, go to movies and dinners (food somehow being a critical ingredient in my circle of buddies), and generally let each other know we’ll be there for them if the need arises. Generally, it works. When it doesn’t, we care enough about each other to confront whatever the issue is and then move on. When you think about it, friendship and life are a lot alike—good times, bad times, misunderstandings, rewards, and compassion. I’ve been blessed. I hope you have been too.
PS. What really prompted this post was the fact that I had to say farewell to my cat friend Rascal this past week. He was a funny, faithful cat who offered his friendship willingly to those people lucky enough to meet him. He never to my knowledge met a human he didn’t like. I miss him.