Is there a point in life when we stop making friends? Do we reach a certain age when meeting new people and making new friends has past? Are friendships only a thing of childhood? Are we so incapable of that silly, child-like infatuation of making a new friend? I remember the first day of school and the discovery of a new girl in my class. I would come home excited that I might have a new friend. On Monday, my oldest son came home quite excited there are 2 new boys in his grade. New friends are an opportunity to make a new impression. New friends may one day be “old friends”. Old friends are the chance to make very deep connections.
But why do friends, and especially new friendships, fall away as we enter adulthood? Is it the pace at which we live? Do we lose the common places that friendships bloom: playgrounds, Girl Scouts, swim team, dance, part-time jobs, church youth groups? We find our mates and have our children and friends may lose their place of prominence.
As I approach 41, I realize that if I am to make no new friends for the rest of my life, I have TRUE friends I can count on one hand (with room to spare). I have a bouquet of light-hearted friends that may not know me quite as intimately, but would probably come to my funeral. What a morbid thought! We define friendship as the list of people who would acknowledge our passing and feel it as a loss.
At different times in my life I have had “best friends”. In childhood, the girl next door was my best friend.
Mary Catherine (M.C.) and I were inseparable. We played Barbies and 45 records. She had the Barbie camper and I had a trunk of handmade Barbie clothes from my Granny. We walked to school everyday until she moved away in 5th grade. In junior high my best friend was Kristin. We rode our bikes around Cutler Ridge hoping to see the boys we had crushes on. When she ran away from home (and an abusive step father) in 10th grade, she showed up on my doorstep. Then, in high school, we all discovered boys and our girl friends took a back seat.
I went of to college alone to a far away city and had no friends. I made the best friend of my life my freshman year. We rushed the same sorority, AXO.Â Traci is that girl I will be friends forever with. She is my BFF. Â We’ll be there for each other in a way a spouse isn’t. I have only just fully understood the power of that bond. If I get cancer, she’ll be right there. If my husband has a heart attack, she’ll be right there. If one of our sons gets sent to war, we will be there for each other. I will drink tooÂ many martinis with her. We will bitch about the pounds we want to lose while we eat cheesecake.
IÂ want to keep making new friends. I loved just hanging out and laughing.Â To reveal myself to another person is always a risk, but it is also exciting. As adults, we stop taking so many risks. We accept anxiety and fear. We “pace ourselves”. We hesitate. Childhood was a time of impulsiveness and haste. We were not scared to jump off bridges into canals (why the hell not). We dyed our hair crazy colors (hair grows back). We painted our nails black before Goth ever existed (because it made our parents crazy). We cut up sweatshirts and acted like Flashdance (and our father’s were nauseous watching us act too grown up). We snuck into movies and made out in cars and shared all sorts of secrets and dreams with abandon. I folded more notes and stuffed them into lockers than seem possible. I have a shoe box fully of these silly notes, folded like origami. Their contents are so pointless that is it beautiful.
As adults, everything we do must have purpose or an objective. We have agendas and goals. It is so absurd! Foolishness, silliness, giggling, pointlessness and recklessness are profoundly unrated, even shunned, in adulthood. We only allow ourselves to “misbehave” if we overdrink or go to Vegas.
A little slliness everyday saves the soul.Â I want to whisper into my girlfriend’s ear when we see a cute boy. I love sneaking a piece of candy right before dinner or AFTERÂ I brushÂ my teeth. It makes the mundane drudgery of adulthood far more interesting. I want to bounce on my bed, skip across the parking lot, blow giant bubbles with my gum, wearÂ girly shoes that are completely uncomfortable and don’t match my outfit.