“Friends! How many of us have them?” These are some of the epic lyrics from the song “Friends” by Whodini. Every time I hear this song it makes me think about my history with “friends.” Ever since I was young I’ve desired to have friends. It wasn’t until I became older that I realized how insignificant “quantity” is compared to “quality.” The amount you have will never be able to replace quality. Time has allowed me to learn how to assess who may be a real, lasting friend versus a fair weather friend who disappears along with the breeze. Real friends are there through thick and thin while the fair weather friends are only there when things are going well. There are so many different kinds out there it’s difficult to find a place to start, but I will share my stories. I guess the broad categories are life-long friends and seasonal friends. We shall begin at the beginning and work our way towards the last women standing, so to speak.
It all started in elementary school. I met some of my closest friends there and I encountered some of the most unfaithful friends I’ve ever had. I had this obsession with finding a best friend and giving them a best friend necklace. Looking back at how I used to be, I realize how soft I was. When I was eight years old there was this girl named Penny who I considered to be my best friend. I never confirmed this with her, but I just told myself that she was and I should have confirmed it. I told my mom I wanted to go and buy a best friend necklace for one of my friends and she bought it for me. I brought it to school the next day or whenever it was and I gave the necklace to Penny during lunch. I was sitting with my friend Hannah and not too long after I gave her the necklace, Penny came up to me and gave the necklace back saying she didn’t want to, “make her other friends jealous.” It sounded like a load of bull and I slowly, but surely began to cry and again, I must say, I was so soft. Hannah rubbed my back trying to comfort me and tell me it was okay. Hannah was such a nice person and I have no idea where she went or what happened to her. I left the cafeteria area and went to the handball court. This evil girl Cruella started badgering me when she saw the tears in my eyes. Looking back I now realize that Cruella may have been racist. She never smiled at me, always looked down on me (not just because she was tall), and always gave me attitude. I was unaware of what racism was back in the day because my mother didn’t raise me to discriminate and I was nice to everybody. I was a really sweet kid and I’m not saying this to toot my own horn, I promise. So, I walked to another handball court to get away from Cruella and I was welcomed by one of the older kids to play handball and it cheered me up. This whole scenario was only part of the lesson I had to learn which was further solidified with the next “major” friendship encounter.
I further pursued my quest to have a best friend and the next one popped up when I was ten. Amanda was a year younger than me but I considered her to be a best friend and for all intents and purposes she was. My mom bought me another set of best friend necklaces and I gave one to her. She accepted it! What a glorious day it was. My hope in friendship was fully restored (as if it ever went away). We had sleepovers and hung out and did all of the girly best friend stuff, then I graduated to sixth grade and attended another school. I can barely remember what happened after that but our friendship quickly whittled down to nothing and by the time she hit high school she all together forgot who I was. What I found funny was that she and my sister would converse with each other but I suppose that was because they had classes together or something. I couldn’t help but think how pathetic and ridiculous it was. A person you used to be so closed to now doesn’t even acknowledge your existence. I had many more friendships like this that chipped away at my innocence. It was after this friendship that I realized friendship jewelry of any sort of stupid and it was a waste of my mother’s money. Part of me felt bad for asking her to spend money on such frivolous items after I discovered they went to waste. If only I had known. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the other significant friendships that I had which has ultimately failed.
When I hit middle school I experienced so much depression that I was looking for anyone or anything to help make the pain go away. I met Diane in seventh grade when I was in P.E. She and I formed a small group with another girl, Farrah. I had my main group of friends just as they did, but we still enjoyed hanging out. We would joke about all sorts of things and have all sorts of conversations. I considered them to be fun and they were the ones who helped get me through P.E. that year. After I learned my lesson about friendship jewelry I decided to just simply be friends with people. Diane was someone I considered to be a close friend. It was at this age, the age of twelve that I discovered that there are different ways to classify friends. Not everyone is a best friend. She lived up the street from me, but she was living on the hillside while I was on flatter land. Walking to her house took about 30 minutes to an hour so my mom would drive me or her mom would come and pick me up. Diane was such a cool person. She loved animals and playing video games like me. I felt as though we were kindred spirits I suppose you could say. Her family was different from mine and they would make her feel kind of depressed. I was depressed but it was for essentially for no reason other than insecurity. She would listen to me complain and I would listen to her but for the most part we would have fun together. I liked going over to her place more than having her come over to mine. We remained friends throughout our schooling even up through college. She moved about 30 minutes away and I hardly saw her. I had no vehicle and I was usually busy, but I was glad to see her when I could. Our friendship slowly watered down, but I didn’t want to let her go because she was one of the nicest people I knew. She was thoroughly nice. She never outright rejected me, but recently the charade would no longer hold up. Our friendship had dwindled down to nothing and I was forced to let it go. This situation taught me that not all friendships last and sometimes you just have to give up the ghost of how things used to be. There haven’t been too many good friends worth mentioning in my life, but the next one(s) cropped up around my senior year of high school.
Candice and Justine were members of the church that I attended and they were the ones I confided in the most. I was newly saved and I was still trying to understand God and how to become more like Jesus. Candice and Justine were sisters who offered to give me and my sister rides to youth night. We hadn’t developed a true friendship at this point, but they were being nice to me and my sister. I was staying at my Granny’s one weekend just because I love her company and I began to discuss friendship with her. I told her of my struggles and I’m sure she lectured me. After our conversation I was inspired to contact Candice and start up a conversation. She thought I was calling for a ride and I was calling just to chat, ha-ha. From that conversation on our friendship grew. I was close to Justine as well, but Candice and I seemed to have a stronger bond. My friendship with her taught me that some friendships are seasonal, conditional, and occasionally are a means to an end.
Candice was my friend through what I considered to be the roughest part of my life thus far. I had a boyfriend who was unsure he wanted to be with me because we weren’t following the church’s doctrine for “praying your spouse down.” He was basically a wimp who was too easily influenced by outside forces. I felt as though being in a relationship with him weakened my relationship with God, but at the same time I prayed more than I ever had in my life. During the midst of the on-again off-again relationship with my boyfriend at the time, my father decided that he wanted to disappear for days and weeks at a time while not-so-carefully hiding his affair with his ugly coworker. During these shenanigans he decided it would be best to write a letter to me and my sister explaining why he was divorcing my mother. So, during this time of devastation and despair I had my sister and I had Candice. She had her own trials and tribulations, but they were a different brand of trauma. We leaned on each other when we were in relationships and when we were single and our friendship spanned roughly five years. I used to live in California and she, along with her cousin, helped me drive to Texas so I could start a new life, three year into our friendship. I think the event that caused our separation may have been my marriage. My husband is a wonderful man, but I think Candice may have felt as though there was no space for her. She stopped communicating with me and I returned the favor until one day she sent my husband a text saying “Merry Christmas.” I flipped because I wanted to know why she was talking to him and not me. I text messaged her all pissed off. Ultimately nothing came out of my emotional outburst. For the past year or so we have not really talked to one another. She came to our wedding of course but we hardly talked; however, she helped pin up the bustle of my wedding dress. I miss her friendship, but apparently she didn’t have the staying power of my other friends.
In my opinion there are different life-long friends. I have a small group of life-long friends: Karen, Heather, Lane, and Courtney. Two of these friends are the kind of life-long friends that stay in touch with you and make sure you’re doing well and all that. The other two are what I will refer to as the situational longstanding friends. These friends are a part of a group of mutual friends which may have started several years ago. All these ladies have stuck by me for over a decade and hardly anyone can say that these days. As you grow older you realize you have your life and they have theirs. People move around and do all sorts of things with their lives. Unless a conscious effort is made it is all too easy to lose contact. Karen and Courtney are the friends who have stayed in touch with me and I keep up with them as well. We don’t talk every day or every week and sometimes we only communicate once a month, but we have staying power. Karen has known me since kindergarten and we have stuck by each other even when all the other people in our group dropped off like flies. We were the last two standing during our senior year of high school keeping each other company. She and I have been able to have deep conversations and laugh like crazy at all sorts of things. Courtney has known me since we were eight years old and she was my neighbor. We only had maybe one class together in all our years of knowing each other. She knew Karen and my other friends but she had her own crowd that she rolled with. She travels all over the place and I travel a little bit myself, but we have stayed in touch. I can’t explain exactly why my relationship with these two ladies has lasted, but I’m glad. Heather and Lane are a part of the group with Karen. Heather and I used to get along swimmingly, but she was always closer to Karen and she still is. She is one of the nicest people in the world, but once high school hit and then college came it became more difficult to stay in touch. She and I have fun when we spend time together but we don’t really talk unless we have a reunion of sorts with our other friends. Lane and I haven’t always vibed that well. I have spent time with her, but I hardly ever see her come out of her shell, if at all. I get the feeling that she’s simply bored with me, but maybe she’s so reserved I can’t tell. Our friendship has never been that solid so it’s a miracle we stayed in touch. I do most of the communicating in our relationship and if I don’t do it, then it doesn’t get done. We have finally reached the end of the friendship journey.
I have some acquaintances these days that are really cool; however, I don’t try to hard with friendships anymore because I’m satisfied with what I have, for the most part. I’ve had my feelings hurt on several occasions but I find the overall conclusion is that I should accept those who want to be in my life but if they get up and leave, then it’s meant to be. Not everyone I come across is meant to become my life-long friend. The seasonal friends serve their purpose for the season, no matter how long and then they leave. Some friends were meant to provide laughs, others taught me lessons about myself, some taught me what I should expect from people, which is nothing! My granny told me once before that my expectations were too high and that’s part of the reason why I would be so hurt and so disappointed, but now I know better…I think. The image I had in my head of the perfect friend doesn’t really exist. My closest friend of all is really my husband and then everyone else. He’s here for all my ups and downs. He’s here to put up with my complaints and my terrible jokes until death do us part! I’m generally happy with the way my life has turned out even though it may sting occasionally thinking of lost friendships, but then again, do I really think about them? Hmm…only sometimes, but time moves on.