Friends

I’ve been thinking a lot about friends and friendship so far this year.   banana

Last year, around New Year’s, I remember telling my husband I did not want any more friends. I meant it. I was pregnant, three of my friends were pregnant, and my ‘main’ social circle already consisted of 20-30 people. That means 20-30 people invited to all the main events, birthdays, etc.

M was mentioning a friend’s friend, who had a ‘rough year’ and I should make an effort to be her new friend. This was someone I’d known casually for years, who had never reached out to me, and was only a topic of conversation because of a friend accidentally invited her to my NYE party. I felt odd about saying that. It was true, but it seems like a terrible thing to admit. “No, I do not want any new friends.”

Now, here in 2015, I can look back at 2014 and realize I actually made several new friends who I really enjoy. One, E, is probably my favorite new friend. She’s single, has a medical-related job that involves travel, is stylish, smart, and always up for an adventure. If I wasn’t married, I would probably demand she be my BFF immediately!

So I am thankful that, even though I wasn’t looking for new friends I have in fact made some new ones.

And, in that same note, I am also …conflicted? about some old friends…

Back in high school, when I was being bullied (and basically prehistoric cyber-bullied, since the internet was still ‘new’), I decided to not pursue one-sided friendships. I reinforced that decision later in college, but added a dose of ‘Love the person for who they are’, meaning some people are worth the extra effort and truly don’t mean to be one-sided in friendships.

But where’s the line on effort? When do you give up? If a friend rejects your attempts to get together 10 times and never bothers to reschedule or get back to you or acknowledge the pattern of cancellations or ignoring…it’s clearly gone beyond the ‘absent-minded forgot to reply’ scenario. But what about the years of friendship, and the intensity the friendship once held? It seems like a tragedy to ‘throw away’ all those memories and adventures and good times. But are they being thrown away, or are they just…The Past now?

learn

I’m glad for the friends I have, in all their different forms. The ones I see every week, sometimes 2 or 3 times a week. The ones I see once a month, or every two months. Those I keep in touch with via email now that distance has separated us. The effort is on both sides, and I like to believe both sides are equally fond of the friendships.

Then there’s the new element of being a parent and watching my daughter grow up. She’s only 8 months old but I find myself wondering about her future. Will she struggle to make and keep friends? Will she be accepted or rejected by her peers? Is she going to become hardened or jaded in the ways that I did during my struggles as a lonely adolescent and young adult?

But

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Boys don’t have cooties.

I have always considered myself a guys’ girl.

I suppose it’s to be expected. I have an older brother (3 years, 2 grade levels). We grew up constantly bickering, physically fighting, those obnoxious kids on a roadtrip going “he’s on myyy side.”  God bless my parents for surviving us.

They never diminished or tried to alter our relationship, though. My dad would frequently say “Fight back” when I whined that Bro had kicked/hit/pushed me. We all had black belts. It seemed logical. The only downside, I think, is I tended to continue that physical aggressiveness into my adult life. Guys in college don’t really like being hurt by girls in college.

Our relationship, however, produced a lot of positive advantages. I have always felt comfortable with boys, particularly those who weren’t “popular”. I remember being in 5th grade, talking to the nerdy, pale, white-haired guy instead of my ‘cool boyfriend’. In middle school, I had a quasi-fan club: a bunch of really nice, quiet, B & C student guys who liked me primarily because I talked to them. They were funny, they were nice, and there was no pressure. In high school, I liked the popular boys, but I hung out with the social misfits, and I embraced the younger, awkward guys who were trying to fit in. They were fun, I had fun with them, and it was innocent.

Except when they developed crushes. I never knew how to deal with that. I’d find myself hanging out with one of them, and then realize at some awkward moment that he thought this was a date, not a casual movie or tennis ‘hang out’ situation. I never appreciated those guys at those moments. I usually just panicked and told them some variation of the truth: We’re good friends, this isn’t going to happen, I’m not into this.

Over the years, now that I’m a ripe old lady, I appreciate the advantages of all those friendships and relationships. I really enjoy being with a group of guys, sitting around a table, trading dirty jokes and crazy stories and laughter. I like the casual exchange, so much less entwining and ensnaring than girls’ conversations can be. The guys usually aren’t negative, aren’t criticizing, aren’t gossiping. It’s purely about enjoyment, humor, and being in the moment. That, in my opinion, is priceless.

Friends

The true measure of friendship should not be whether each meeting brings new lessons about each other, but rather whether each meeting brings new lessons about oneself.

My greatest friends are those who, although we may not see each other often, know that time and distance are never barriers. We get together when we can, we catch up and immediately fall into our rapports, but also move deeper into our friendships.

“Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.” (Sex & the City)

I am incredibly lucky to have friends who love the best side of me. I hope I love, and help bring out, the best of them.