Hello from the land of traffic, line-ups & retail!
Can you tell how happy I am to be back in the big city? It’s not all bad though; the rain is no longer blowing sideways and I actually washed the truck in a mere t-shirt and light cotton pants two days ago! Then, of course, there are our wonderful friends here, which brings me to this week’s topic: friendship.
No relationship in our lives is more important and delicate than the one we have with our friends. You may love your family yet still have little or nothing in common with them. And with our “significant other”, well, we always have to censor ourselves a little bit in the name of domestic harmony and good nookie. But friends are unique. Friends are the people we choose to have in our lives for no other reason than the fact that we like being with them.
My best friend in elementary school was my next door neighbour, Trish. We loved each other and we fought like cats and dogs. Because she was an only child and my sister is ten years older than me, we made up for the lack of sibling rivalry in our lives by constantly squabbling. It did get a bit tedious after a while and so we came up with a brilliant plan to clear the air and solve our problems. We would each write down ten things that drove us completely bonky about the other person and then, like cool, collected, rational people we would read each point out, discuss it and come up with a solution. You cannot imagine how proud of ourselves we were for tackling these issues in such a grown-up manner. By the time Trish reached her second point, something to do with the fact that I was always ‘picking’ at things (honestly, how trivial), we were well into the biggest argument we’d ever had. Trish stormed home and we didn’t speak to each other for nearly a week.
A few years later I would discover, to my enormous surprise, that Trish’s dad was an alcoholic and her home life was far from peaceful. I had no idea and for years was eaten alive with guilt over not being a better friend to her. I’m happy to report that she is now happily married with kids and lives in Australia. I still pick at things, in case you’re wondering.
In junior highschool I met Trina, a friend who would have a profound impact on my life. My friendship with Trina was one of the most complex relationships I’ve ever had and taught me loads about myself – most pointedly my weaknesses. Two years age difference between friends now is nothing, many of my friends are much older or much younger than me, but in school it means a lot. I barely got to know Trina before she was off to senior high and I was left behind. By the time I made the leap to senior, she was already at university. To our credit, we remained excellent pals eventhough we spent most of our time apart and traveled in different circles. I looked up to Trina; she was, in my mind, everything that I wasn’t and everything I wanted to be. She was confident, she was a athletic, she was a fantastic singer, and had a family that was more likely to gather around the piano and sing than to gather around the TV and watch The Love Boat – I was envious. It seemed to me that Trina’s life was always moving forward, getting better, while mine was stuck in neutral and I worried that she would abandon me for all the interesting people she was meeting along the way.
One of my great weaknesses that I discovered through my friendship with Trina is my tendency to put huge expectations on my friends. In my picture of how things should be, Trina would always be close by, we would become roomates after I graduated from university, maybe we’d even buy a place together one day and, most importantly, I would always be her best friend, the closest person to her heart. Nice dream world huh?
I am ashamed to say that when she moved back east, though I wished her well out loud, I did not wish her well in my heart. I should have been happy for her, should have been thrilled to see her pursuing her dreams, but all I felt was left behind – again.
It took a few years but I did finally realize what a selfish friend I was. I don’t think I ever told her how sorry I was for not being more supportive but we did remain friends despite my shortcoming. We don’t see each other much anymore but I still love her and credit her with inspiring me to take risks in my life. I also credit her with inspiring me to sneak out of the house on numerous occasions, many involving Big Gulps spiked with booze siphoned from my parent’s bar and wild nights in Vancouver dancing and carousing…but that’s another story.
The Prez and I are incredibly lucky. We not only have a lot of really good friends, but also a lot of good friends all over the globe. I should also say that I am incredibly lucky to be with a man who has an uncanny knack for instantly recognizing quality people and becoming friends with them in 27.6 seconds.
Our friends come in all shapes and sizes, all ages and races. We have left-wing hippy friends and right-wing conservative friends, devout religous friends and cynical agnostic friends, millionaire friends and friends who have nothing but happiness – and we love and cherish all of them. There are the odd ones who have hurt me, like Mickey and Minnie, but, fortunately, they are rare. And we are not always easy people to be friends with. For one thing, we don’t seem to stay in one place for very long! We also ( the Prez especially) tend to nag people about coming to join us on our crazy adventures and often call bullshit on many of the staples of popular culture that most people enjoy (television, fashion, “stuff”, etc.). Yes, we are very, very lucky to have our friends.
Are any of us perfect friends? I doubt it.
An example of a good friendship is when, let’s say, your friend is putting on weight and getting lazy, and you know to gently say, “Hey, why don’t you come for a little jog with me tomorrow?” or other words of encouragement without being judgemental or making that person feel bad. A great friendship is when you can say, “Yo tubby, get your lard ass off the couch or I’m coming over there to give you the Purple Herby of your life!!!” and ignore the fact that they won’t speak to for a month afterward. If you have one great friendship you are blessed. We have a few great friends…I don’t know what we did to deserve such good fortune but I’m not complaining.
Anyhoo, my great friend ‘Martha’ Roney sent an email to me recently about friendship. The idea is that you have to pick one word that best describes that friend’s personality. One word??? She asked me what one word I would choose for her and I was stumped. How do I sum all that she is in just one little word? I mean we’re talking about a woman who when humbly asked if we could perhaps, maybe stay at her and her husband’s place for a month (with our hell cat Emily) while we wait for our Cayman island job interview replied, “Of course” as casually as if we had asked to borrow a cup of sugar. Martha is a dedicated mom, an organizer, the life of the party, she stays fit, is a lover of cats, is an incredible gardener, and an amazing friend. She is always doing something for someone but she’s not a doormat One word? You must be kidding!
So I racked my brain for a word and the word I came up with is “home”. I know it’s not an adjective but to me that’s what Martha is. Being with her, I feel wanted and welcome. I never feel that I have to be on my best behaviour or watch what I say. No matter what kind of day I’ve had I’m always happy to see her and often just being around her can make a bad day seem OK. So Martha, your word is HOME…I guess I’m not homeless afterall.
So, if you’re interested in playing the one word game, give it a try. Click on “comments”, tell me what your one word for me is and I will write my word for you as well. You can try it with all of your friends; I guarantee it will make you think long and hard about what kind of people your friends really are and how fortunate you are to have them.
Happy BOO Day everyone and until next week I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!