A friend of mine wrote this title in my end-of-year friendship book (did you have one of those? I still have mine) when I was twelve and we were finishing primary school. I was going off to a different high school and leaving all my friends behind. I often wonder what life would have been like if I hadn’t started the endless journey of change and relocation. I’m lucky that that friend is still a friend. Not as close as we were back then, but we still chat online every now and then and when we are in the same city (once every few years) we catch up for a drink and a long chat. We still try to keep up with each others lives even though distance and years and so many worlds have taken us in such different directions. Still when I think of her (and I do often), in my mind, she’s twelve. She’s wearing dungarees and has an epic bob and freckles splashed across her nose. She is actually a very successful, very cool, very stylish 20-something now. But to me, she’ll always be that best-friend who threw me a surprise party and took me out for pizza and shared a few choice years of her childhood with me. She was/is a truly beautiful person.
Do friendships exist like that any more? That love that you have for your school friends. That amazing bond where you would do anything and everything for that person, where you talk on the phone until the dark quiet hours of the night and you write each other endless letters and fill shoe boxes with glittery paper and ribbon and stories and secrets. It’s such a beautiful thing… those friendships. Those all-or-nothing (and if it’s nothing the whole world would fall apart) friendships. I have had one of those in my adult life. One of those all-or-nothing-best-friend-beautiful-sister friendships. But it was short lived. She was short lived. And every day I miss her.
Obviously as adults we don’t have the time we had as teenagers. Between kids and work and relationships and responsibility, our friendships often suffer a bit. But is there an “adult-version”? – I’m sure there is. I know people who have it. But me? Not so much.
It’s hard making new friends. It’s something that we talk about a lot… us women. Mothers. Something that from your comments and from your emails and from blogs I read across this vast yet totally connected internet-land, I can tell, I’m not alone. It’s so important to all of us… and there are so many of us without it. Lots of acquaintances and very few friends. Real true friends.
Displacement happens for lots of reasons. Travel. Time. Distance. Relationships. Responsibility. Friends grow up and grow apart. We move. We grow. We explore and we come back… different. I came back to this place, two hours from the town where I grew up where I still have lots of “friends”. Lots of friends who like my photos on Facebook, they even comment and wish me a happy birthday when the day rolls around. But friendships change and people change and I was gone from this place for a very long time. I came back a new person, with a new person… and my friends are now busy with their own lives, their own distractions and responsibilities. Their own worlds that even though our worlds are now in the same place, they are still a universe apart. As for day-to-day, real life friend contact? I have one. One new beautiful friend who lives a few blocks away. One new friend who saves me from my day-to-day insanity. One new friend who is my sounding board. I was lucky to find this friend. Very lucky. And I found her in the most unusual of ways. The internet. Maybe this isn’t so unusual anymore? Making friends through internet groups, forums, Facebook secret groups where it’s so easy to be vulnerable, so easy to bare your soul, so easy to be whoever you want to be… because you’re safe, in your pajamas, in your own house and maybe you never will see these people face-to-face.There is a freedom in the anonymity. But there is also something that a friend online can’t give you, as good as it is, it is not the same.
I love my online friendships. In fact, I’m going on holiday with a group of mamas and their babies in March. I’ve never met a single one of them in the flesh. Sounds bizarre? It does to me too. But it’s time. It’s time to throw caution to the wind (a bit). Time to branch out. Make new friends. Try new things. Embrace this life and all it’s quirks and remember that no one (not even me) needs to do this alone (some days my mantra truly should be I have nothing to prove but that’s a bigger issue for another time).
Because I tell you what, this motherhood gig. No, perhaps it’s just this life gig… it’s gets really lonely. I’m still figuring out the best way to make friends in this new skin I’m in. Where the days of partying hard are behind me. My days of meeting new friends at all night raves and going home with them like a little lost puppy, welcomed into a new world… are definitely behind me now. So new strategies are a must. Avoiding the intense social anxiety is essential… and finding something, anything, to talk about that isn’t nappies and vomit and poo and sleep might seem impossible (it does), but it probably isn’t, cos I swear I bore myself stupid sometimes with the sound of my own voice. I just want to find some (more) like minded people to hang out with and be friends and go for coffees and eat pie and have dinners and drink wine and chat and laugh and cry and… and… and… you know?
How do you transverse the world of adult friendships? Is it easy for you? Do you find it difficult? Do you just wish someone would still write you a note (filled with secrets and giggles and love) in sparkly glitter pens and fold it into some cool origami shape and pass it to you under the table?