I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a friend lately. I have been reading two books about Friendships (with capital Fs. Those kinds of friendships.): A Little Life by Hanya Yanagirhara and My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. I’m about halfway through the former and I’ve just started the latter.
I want to be clear: my friendships are nothing like those in these novels. I’ve only just started the Ferrante book, but I know that’s a COMPLICATED friendship. And anyone who’s read even a little bit of A Little Life knows that theirs is maybe not a friendship to emulate (although I find it very realistic of college aged friendships, but that’s another post). No, the friendships I’m thinking of are much different.
Imagine, instead, the friends from Now and Then. Childhood (teenagehood) friends who know each other’s ins and outs. But don’t let long stretches of time pass between meetings. Imagine the girls from Now and Then in the age of cell phones and Group Me. Those are my friends. Today alone I received 67 messages from my friends. That’s not including the ones I myself sent.
I should backtrack and describe my friends a little bit. It’s true that we’ve been friends (mostly) since our freshman year of high school, nearly 15 years ago. I say mostly because two of the girls in our group of seven are a year younger and one is four years younger. But we’ve all been friends almost half our lives which, at this point, seems long enough to call each other lifelong friends. We are unnaturally close. We know each other in and out, upside and down. We’ve been there through weddings and babies and miscarriages and heartbreak. We love each like sisters (and there are, in fact, two sets of sisters in the group!). We don’t always agree (don’t get me started of the great fight of 2001 which almost came to blows!), but we always love each other.
Today one of these friends shared good news with our group, and I swear I felt like it was my good news. It was all I could do to keep from telling my students (who don’t know my friend and probably don’t care) or my work friends (who might know my friend but still probably don’t care). I told my husband who was dutifully excited, but the reaction was a let down. I really just wanted to tell my girls, who were already celebrating. We are so excited.
I live a state away from these girls now. I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like between my baby and theirs. But we are always a text message or a phone call away. And if feeling joy at their joys and sorrow at their pains is a mark of friendship then ours is standing the test of time.