There is something to be said for the aging process as it relates to friendship.
I grew up in a small town, where the cliques cast a wide net. While I wouldn’t call myself popular, I was part of the in-crowd. I made friends easily and certainly fell into the trap of BFFing every girl who traded notes with me in English class about the latest crush. High school solidified for me, a small group of ladies to which I am still happily attached to this very day. My two very best friends in life share a very deep history with me.
With Facebook, Twitter & email…something changed in the way we view people. And I mean that very generally. For me personally, Facebook presented the perfect vehicle for my tendency toward an inner dialogue of passive aggression. And judgement. And mockery. (Twitter? You love me just the way I am. I fuckin love you people.) I could take a status update and run your nature into the ground with it…and still do on occasion. There is a lot to be said for the FB world- I keep up with old friends I went on exchange with, see pictures of my friends’ kids, laugh at my brother’s attempts at wit (seriously, Ry…get over it. I’m way funnier than you. Deal.)- its attributes are far and wide and I wouldn’t have the heart to give up my Facebook page. It’s dear to me.
But I have also seen it do horrible things. I have watched it spark arguments, spread rumours, nit pick, reveal secrets & flat out tear families apart. For what probably amounted to a solid year, I myself pecked out status updates and private messages that I would never have the balls to say in real life. And what’s worse? I created relationships around those thoughts. Which in almost every case, changed the way I felt about those people in real life. In short, I forgot they lived outside a computer screen with families and ambitions and challenges of their own. And I forgot I did too.
I like my “friends” on Twitter. It’s an easy conversation, all at once non-committal and engaging. People are self-deprecating and enthusiastic. You can have a bad day, throw it out into the world and instead of judgement, you get encouragement and I’ve-totally-been-theres. You rule, Tweeps.
But there is no love so deep for me that could ever replace the one I share with my best friends in real fracking life. Ryan notwithstanding, Jenifer & Amie have been a part of my life for more than I care to admit to you. Those might just be names in a bucket to you, but seeing their names in my email inbox or popping up in a text message instantly gives me a smile. Do you have friends like that? I hope you do. It’s magical. I am exclusively myself with them, I can say what I want, do what I want, be who I want and there is no judgement. There are side-eyes and what-the-fuck-are-you-thinking-you-total-quack-dear-god-Alicias…but they earned those. Years of talking me down out of my tree, sharing giggles at concerts, heart-felt conversations about growing up, decorating bedrooms after surgery (or after MANY surgeries. Ahem, Amie.), concocting many-a-story about why we were out with those Juvi hockey players when we were told not to…these ladies make up my entire childhood memory bank.
And now that we’re older? It’s even better. Harder, certainly. The problems we solve together have moved on from losing virginity to dealing with infertility. From crushes to miscarriages (one per friend…what are the odds? High, likely.) From body image issues to divorces. The beauty of the internet is that even when one of us lives 3 hours away, we have the ability to talk things through, share ideas, commiserate and in general BE THERE…even when we can’t really be there. Know what I mean?
I have many friends, some very dear to me, some I tell a lot to, some I hold at arms length and wave to with my fingers crossed behind my back (don’t lie to yourself, you have THAT friend too. She’ll use that shit against you, yo.) They are all necessary to my life, else I wouldn’t even keep them around…I’m sentimental like that;) Some of these new ‘friends’ I’m making live in my computer, but I still consider them part of my experience. In fact, I think often they enrich it more than I thought possible. As I have aged, I’ve realized the importance of casting my own wide net of friendship. I’ve learned that it’s ok/necessary to keep certain things from certain people, and likewise very important to let others in even when it’s scary. Even more important, I’ve come to terms with what level of give/receive I’m willing to deal with in a friendship. Some don’t entirely even out, and that’s ok.
And with young daughters? The ability to teach them how to accept, how to trust, how to let go and who to surround themselves with…it’s my job. My most important job. I want them to trust their instincts and listen to themselves…and to give everyone a chance to prove themselves worthy. And I hope that they can watch me continue to do the same.