Tuesday, April 13, 2021


Ever since I learned that an old high school friend passed away, I've been thinking about friendship.

I do not think I am a good friend. I try hard to be a good friend, but I've had so many people pass through my life, I think it is safe to say that unless I am supposed to be learning an awful lot from a vast amount of people, many of whom I can barely remember, then I likely am not a good friend.

Many articles claim to know what makes a good friend. It depends on the person, the times, the types of people involved, though. I don't think one can make blanket claims as to whether this person is a good friend or a bad friend, although I just made such a claim about myself, I suppose. Everyone is different and so each relationship is different, and must be counted on its own merits. It does no good to try to compare people, one to another.

However, I have friends. Close friends. Acquaintances. Dear friends. Long-distance friends. Long-term friends. Friends with whom I once was quite close but now they're in another category. People come and go, sometimes quickly, sometimes not.

My friend from high school was not a long-term friendship in that we remained friends as adults. Friendly toward one another, yes, the few times we happened to meet, but not friends. She did not call me and I didn't call her. Many people I know from both high school and college fall into this category. We were friends, we would speak and be friendly if we saw one another in the supermarket, but we don't call, text, or much else. Maybe we make an occasional comment on a Facebook post, if that.

However, some of those relationships can turn. I was quite friendly with one of my high school teachers, and we have stayed in touch all of these years. For a long time we exchanged Christmas cards and that was the extent of it, but after she retired, we began to eat lunch together occasionally. We email and text. Sometimes we talk on the phone. It's a nice, easy relationship with no expectations, but I am always glad to hear from this person. She's also someone I turn to occasionally for advice.

I have over 500 Facebook friends. These people are not all my "friends." They are people I know. Some are people I barely know. Maybe I met them in passing, or I wrote an article on their great-aunt. Sometimes I'm not sure how I know someone, I simply recognize a name or face.

My husband and I are friends as well as spouses. I think friendship in a marriage is essential if the relationship is going to survive the inevitable up and downs of life. If you're not friends with the person you are in love with, what exactly do you have?

One of my longest friendship dates back to 1983. Leslie and I worked together, and co-workers in general are a class of friends in and of themselves. Generally, once you leave a workplace, those friendships end. Oh, there may be a phone call or two after you've left the building, but those relationships dissolve quickly. Fortunately, Leslie and I had a lot in common outside of work, and we've remained friends all of these years. There were times when we were not close, particularly when I was working in downtown Roanoke and attending college in the early 1990s, but we have always had a good friendship.

Other friendships continue but have changed. Walls went up, maybe on both of our parts, and there you go. Those walls are hard to bring down once they are in place.

I have another friend who is like a sister. We have known each other for about 10 years. I knew the moment we met that we would be friends. She's a helper friend, in that she likes to help out and is good in emergencies.

My brother is also my friend. It is a complicated relationship because we are siblings, but I consider him a friend as well as my brother. I can't say that about many other family members, that they are also my friends. Some are just the roles they have been assigned - aunt, cousin - whatever.

I have friends online, too. I have people I am in touch with that I met online back in the 1990s and still have some connection to, mostly through Facebook. These people are not "real life" friends, I suppose, but they are in my life. Peripheral friends, for the most part. I did have a daily communication with a person that I cared about deeply, but it seems to have ended. I guess in the end it was only a lot of words, and "I'm sorry" is not in her vocabulary. 

Many people are incapable of apologizing, I've learned. This is generally true of men, but some women refuse to acknowledge any fault or otherwise confirm that they have contributed to an issue in a relationship. I assume always that I have a 50% share in whatever happens, but I don't take 100% credit for it anymore. At one time, I think I did that, I took on all the blame if a relationship failed, but it takes two to make or break a friendship. Response to incidents is everything.

My old friend from high school, the one who passed away, left me a note in my senior annual that said our relationship was "on thin ice" at the time she wrote. I do not remember issues between us. I only recall good times and adventures we shared, some of which were probably not the best idea at the time, but we were young and it was part of growing up in the 1970s. She also signed the entry in my annual as "Toots" and I never knew why, because not once did I call her that. Then I graduated high school and she was a year younger than I, and so we naturally grew apart.

I prefer it when relationships end on a good note. A general growing apart is acceptable because people change; the things we need from one another may change. No one person can be everything to someone, and people needs friends of all kinds in order to live a nice rounded life.

Part of what we've all been missing during this pandemic is the nice rounded life we had before, where we said "Hi" to the checkout clerk who wasn't a friend but who was friendly, or to the ladies in the book club that you haven't seen in over a year, with whom you are friendly but not exactly close friends, or anyone else for that matter because I've been stuck in my house basically since November 22, 2019, when my husband had his ankle surgery and then we went straight from that to a pandemic.

These are melancholy thoughts, I think. The pandemic has made me a little crazy, along with everyone else. 

1 comment:

  1. Your post reminds me of the friendship poem that goes... There are three kids of Friends: Friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a lifetime.
    I have found this to be true. Life changes all of the time. I think you are a good friend. You are kind and encouraging and sometimes that is all a person needs is for someone that is nice to them and encouraging. You
    sell yourself short. Have a nice week my friend. I hope you get to see your friends soon. ♥



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