The big weekend looms ever larger. Last time I waxed lyrical about friendships lost. This time I’m going to explore some aspects of long term friendship which I think have changed over my [nearly] sixty years on the planet.
At the weekend there is to be a gathering of friends, old and new. Having discovered, at last, from Husband, who is likely to be attending I’ve been attempting to put them all into some kind of date order. This has prompted an inner essay on the nature of friendship; what makes it endure and how easy is it to forge new friendships as you age?
Easily, the guest who has known me for longest will be my brother, which is not to say he will always have been my greatest fan, in fact he was candid enough recently to reveal that he and my other brother ‘hated’ me as children, for the fact of my birth. Fair enough. Next in line will be my children, whose testament I regard as unreliable [no offence intended] due to their having been children.
Next, I believe is a very long-standing friend who I see seldom nowadays, though we never lose touch. She is someone who has known a great deal about me in the past, as I her. We worked together closely for several years without as much as a grimace of disharmony, blurring the borders of work and leisure, as we strolled the supermarket aisles planning our next project and sharing our personal ups and downs.
Jumping forward to the present, however, there are three new, shiny friends with whom I’ve been delighted to become acquainted during the last year, who have extended a generous warmth and inclusion into their circle.
I have to admit a small amount of envy for those who have a same sex sibling, or a friend from childhood. Due to family circumstances, moves around the country and so on I made friends and then lost them through upheaval.
As a young adult my friendships were forged through work, a factor which continued throughout my working life. The unfortunate result was that conversational topics tended to revolve around-work. A benefit of ceasing work has been getting to know and become friends with people from all walks of life. An introduction these days does not need to include ‘what do you do?’-or if it does I can simply reply, “I’m retired”. [Of course it is my recurring fantasy to be able to reply, “I’m a writer”].
For me, friendship has to be two-way, much like marriage-the same amount of effort having to be put in on both sides; as a consequence, those friendships which have lasted are the ones where contact is upheld from both parties. I’ve also noticed that of those work related friendships, the ones made longest ago have lasted the best. More recent workplace colleagues who were friends tend now towards the Facebook style of friendship, although of course it is always interesting to see what they get up to.
Whilst it is impressive to have 374 Facebook ‘friends’, I feel the term ‘friend’ is being stretched to the limit. Most can be at best, acquaintances, surely. If you don’t meet up with someone, ever, are they really a friend?
My best friend? Why-Husband of course! Long suffering, sometimes irritating, often fun, home sharer, confidante, soul mate and best mate. [Oh and birthday arranger!].