I spend a lot of time thinking about friends and friendship. The people that I know and love that are scattered across the globe from all different, unique places and eras of my journey. I often mull over why it’s been so difficult to create strong bonds with people here on the Gold Coast and ruminate on whether my existing friends – those I don’t see often – have “replaced” me in their lives.
Silly? Perhaps. But friendship has always been important to me. Crucial, even. People have often asked me what the word siempre means that I have tattooed on me: it means forever or always. It came to be important to me because the friends that I have made in my life are forever*. One is silver and the other’s gold sings the song lyrics, and I have found nothing truer in my 32 years. My friends are my family, my lifeblood. They have supported me through everything – tears, laughter, adventures, terrible music concerts, blind dates, true love – and all that wonderful fun in between.
I heard a song on the radio today, “Closing Time” by Semisonic, and that grating, earwig** song reminds me of high school. Those of you from Mr. Ambinder’s junior year English class may recall the serenade we received of that tune towards the end of the year, and the song on the radio transported me back to that classroom, those old friends. Some of those friends haven’t spoken to me in years, people I was once so close to, and that’s always disappointing. But I’ve moved on – and across the world.
J and I had a long discussion the other afternoon about friendships and layers and discovering the truth of who someone really is. We weren’t discussing this regarding romance, but friends. What was the truest, purest form of yourself? When was it? When do we start piling on the layers to hide ourselves or disguise our honest feelings or opinions? What does it take to strip those back and return to our core? And how do these layers prevent or allow us from creating deep, meaningful friendships as we get older? It seems easy in high school – you are with these people hours upon hours of the day, have choir or theatre practice after school, do homework together or create study groups, play sports, etc. From there, if you go to college, you meet your roommate and have extracurriculars and people in your dorm and a built-in community at your fingertips.
But then you get into the real world and it becomes harder. Sometimes it’s easy to befriend work colleagues, but I think this is very hit-or-miss, and of course the “single serving” friends when travelling or working overseas. And what about when you settle outside of your hometown? I struggled (and still do) with this here in Australia. It’s not that I don’t work with good people, because I do. And it’s not as if I have no friends, because there are some here that I hold very dear to me. But the hard part is that everyone is already grown-up and has their lifestyle with their existing circle of friends, so it can be more difficult to integrate into what is already in place. I watch others do this with ease, but I believe their goal, or what they plan to gain or achieve in that new relationship, is oftentimes very superficial and arbitrary.
So how do we do it? How do we build friendships, and on what base? How much of your past do you divulge and share, and when does that happen? Meeting someone at 32 isn’t the same as meeting them at 12 – how much of you “previous life” do you fill them in on? Or does it start the minute you meet, and things or people from your past have no bearing on this newly-growing relationship? Does it scare someone off if you reveal a nugget of who you are from your past life?
I’m so lucky to have met so many people while we were all in or near our “purest form”. This can forgive a lot of transgressions when they’re cranky or fall out of touch or don’t reply to emails, because they are the ones that are allowed to do that and when you see them after a year of not talking absolutely nothing has changed between you. It’s not false or awkward, it simply is. So thank you to my friends out there who are loyal and lovely!
Much love and many hugs,
*There are, of course, extenuating situations of lost trust, betrayal or those who have written me off and discarded me and my friendship without a second though. But I try not to focus on them.
**You know, songs that get in your ear and you can’t get them out until another takes their place.