"I have no friends!" my granddaughter cried. Her parents are quite strict and she lived in a dangerous neighborhood so she was not allowed outside without supervision. They hope things will be better soon. But in the meantime... So we had a talk. Turns out that she was complaining that she wasn't allowed to run around with her friends unsupervised. I side with her parents on this.
But it started me thinking about friendship and how we define a friend. What changes our definition from "a woman/man I know" to "my friend"? How do we make that shift--and why?
Some would say it's based on commonality of interests. I'm not convinced that's it. I think that two very different people can be friends. Two people of disparate interest, educational backgrounds, even age, can build a close friendship. I suspect that it is a shared spirit. In the worst case, two negative individuals forge a friendship wherein their mutual negativity feeds off each other. It's a destructive relationship from the beginning. In the best case, two individuals build a wonderful relationship which supports and encourages both of them. Most of us end up somewhere in the middle.
Friendship can be short, long or intermittent. I have a friend that I talk to about every two or three years. That's the way our lives have gone. We've been friends since we were eighteen-year-old newlyweds. If I pick up the phone tomorrow, we can take up our conversation where we last left off. I don't have to explain things to her or apologize for my feelings because she understands. We are friends.
I move frequently and that means that I sometimes have to leave friends behind. But for that time period that I lived in that place, those friends and I had shared experiences we can look back on with smiles. We were friends.
When I arrive at a new place, I face the prospect of making new friends. Fortunately in this place I have a wonderful friend and neighbor close by. We've shared some interesting times as I've become a published writer. She's my cheerleader and coach when I'm feeling blue. She's my confidant. She is my friend. Friends are a priceless gift. During this month of February let us be thankful for friends--past, present, and future.