Making friends as an adult is a tricky, tricky proposition. If you’ve got kids, that’s a good place to start. I’ve found it useful to identify potential friends among my kids’ parent group by complaining about something and seeing if anyone joins in. Just a little bit, I mean they have to know what they’re getting into. I like to make sure their kids aren’t too clean or perfectly well behaved, because I don’t need that kind of pressure in my life. And then there’s the whole thing of being on your guard in case someone seems like potential friend material but then it turns out they just want you to join their multi-level marketing scheme or cult or something or group that actually stays out after 10:00 or something. There are so many awkward stages, it’s almost worse than dating, because it’s highly unlikely that at any point in the proceedings, you’ll get to break the tension by making out. I mean, not impossible, but highly unlikely. So, yeah, tricky proposition all in all.
I wish that I could have just keep all my best friends from all of my stages of life with me as I moved from place to place and job to job. Create some sort of nomadic caravan of friends that I’ve collected. That way all I would need to do would be to pop out of the door and wander over to their tent or whatever. But alas, that’s not the way our world works, and they remain scattered, accessible on a daily basis only through a computer screen. It was so easy back in college, when all you had to do was wander into a dorm hallway and start banging on doors. It’s harder now, but having a neighbors as best friends sure makes things easier.
My healthiest relationship and longest neighbor friendship is with Vicky. I was reminded today of how much she means to me because we had a stupid argument, and that’s what got me thinking. Don’t worry–it’s all fixed up and better, not two hours after it happened. On the rare occasions when we irritate each other, we argue like professionals. Seriously, we should be used as a model for couples counseling. For example, today I said something rude to and insensitive and made Vicky mad. Then she called me back and, using “I” statements, told me how she felt. Then she allowed me to respond. I took ownership for my mistake, explained my point of view. She listened. Then I said that I was sorry and asked for her forgiveness. Then she forgave me and we talked about other things and signed off by saying “I love you.” We should take our game on the road, I think. She is honestly the ONLY PERSON that I argue with correctly!
To wrap up my little musing on adult friendships, here’s a little something I wrote three plus years ago when a couple of our other neighbor friends moved away. The feelings hold true today, as new clans fill in the empty spaces of our neighborhood circle:
I like things the way they are. Maybe not everything, but I love my neighborhood the way it is, and I weep to think of losing it. I like that our kids have known each other since they were in diapers. They lope home from the bus each day, secure in the comfort of each other. Games and imaginings sprout up at a moment’s notice in the backyard tree fort, sunlight dappling the most ethnically diverse locality in all of Franklin, people with the brownish-whitish souls that belong to us. I like that they belong to US. I don’t care whose house they are in—they’ll be fed, and scolded, and loved, and entertained, and secure in the knowledge that they belong. I like that my ugliest secrets belong to these three women and they don’t care. They are some of the only friends who don’t need anything from me but me. When I grant them kindnesses or favors I do so not to uphold some carefully crafted image or façade, but just because that the way it is. I like that our backyards and the lollipop of a street are enough of a world for our kids in the summer, that they can subsist on endless popscicles snuck from freezer after freezer all summer long. I like that we’ve cried together and even more so laughed together. I like that my girlfriends are my family, and that we’ve created a magical little village for ourselves that is so rare in today’s world. I guard it and speak of it with pride and knowledge that it inspires envy. –me, Friday, April 17, 2015