It has been awhile, a long while, since I’ve updated. I’ve missed this kind of loose writing – unrestrained by deadlines and specific requirements. I planned on posting this yesterday and the day before and last week…well, you get the picture. My procrastination gene isn’t entirely to blame though, part of it was due to writer’s block. And well, I’ll blame the rest on the cold I’m currently recovering from – who gets colds in the summer?
I’ve been seriously pondering what to write here, on any given day it seems as if so much happens and yet so little rates in my mind as I review my day before my head hits the pillow at night. My life is a little messy now; I feel disconnected and somehow hyper tuned in at the same time. Everything just sort of seems to be passing by, but I think that has more to do with the fact that it’s August than there being anything wrong with my perception of the world.
Second year starts in a little over a month, but for some of my close friends and for one of my cousins, September will mark their first year of university. I wish them the best of luck.
As for me, I’m not sure how I feel. Actually, that’s not true – I’m chomping at the bit to be back at university and to have a real routine again. Goodness knows the summer has once again played havoc with my sleep schedule, but this year, this ridiculously warm season’s mission to mess with my inner clock was aided by my cat.
She has been waking me up at all hours, including but not limited to 3 am, 5 am and 6 am – oh, she’s a joy. I can’t blame her though if I was her age I’d probably require very specific regular feedings or maybe I wouldn’t be so high maintenance. I’ll let you know when I reach her age in human years.
And now for something completely different…
Today I wanted to talk about friends. Seven letters – too often these seven characters are abused, manipulated or confused with other terms such as acquaintance, classmate or guy who sat behind me in an assembly once. I cannot recall how many times I came home from a day camp when I was younger to joyfully regale my parents with the tales of I had done that day, accompanied by “my friends” of course. More often than not I would be speaking about children I had met a day or two before but back then I made no distinction between them and my real chums.
To be completely frank, I’m unsure that I ever acknowledged what an actual friend is until high school. As a youngster I had and still have, my best friend whom I referenced in an earlier post, but we are an anomaly in my mind. When I look back on sixth grade, granted my class only had seven students, none of those kids were really my friend.
But I’m okay with that now, or at least I’m dealing with the variety of distorted friendships I cultivated in my mind.
There’s a Frank Turner song called I Am Disappeared and two sets of its lyrics stands out to me as I write this post, “I keep having dreams…of people wrapped up tight in the things that’ll kill them” & “She can’t remember what came first – the house, the home or the terrible thirst.”
Now, you may be asking yourself, what do those words have to do with friendship?
Well, like everything in our world friendship has the power to hurt us; fake friends and relationships of convenience can take a severe emotional toll on us. But we’re so wrapped up in the idea of being friends and having friends that we don’t always notice when we’re entering into toxic situations that swiftly and effectively cripple us emotionally.
And while many seem content to say they live in a house I am personally partial to having a home, a place or places where I feel safe and loved. However, even those homes can trick us into believing we have something that isn’t real. We yearn for acknowledgement, we thirst for a connection and we hunger for appreciation. We can become so immersed in our utopian view of our reality that everything becomes severely distorted.
Hollywood and the media don’t do us any favours here, neither do authors unfortunately. For every accurate friendship I’ve seen depicted on screen or detailed on a page there are thousands more that are unrealistic and even abusive.
We rage against movies, tv shows and novels for showcasing common tropes like the normal guy getting a hot girlfriend or nerdy guys clustering in their parents basements when they’re thirty but we never target the portrayal of friends on screen.
Guys who stalk you aren’t your friend. Girls who only keep you around because you dress like them aren’t winning any friendship awards either. Oh, and Guys and girls can be just friends too. They don’t have to fall in love and there is no requirement for puppy-like pining or unrequited love.
In television series there’s often a set of best friends, usually a duo who are either quite similar [but one lives in the other’s shadow] or they are polar opposites yet they still maintain their bond through thick and thin. There’s a recurring theme of friends who have known each other since they were fetuses or were constantly over at each other’s houses all the time as children and even later on as teens.
I never had those types of friends. As an only child I craved that sort of attachment. Even now I occasionally find myself watching a movie and feeling a deep longing for a friendship like that – one where the friends practically live in each others back pockets.
But I coped.
As I grew up and entered high school I found myself wanting to be friends with everyone. I can handle confrontation quite well but when faced with the choice I would rather mediate than fight. I sought to please, welcome and generally, be friendly to everyone I met. There was nothing wrong with interjecting a smile into someone’s day but I did not have many close friends.
I’ve never been one to have more than a handful of confidants. When I was going through French class in grade twelve we studied the late literary greats of Europe and we spent a fair bit of time on Montaigne. For those of you not familiar with the man I suggest you read his essays, they are endearing and delightful snapshots of the human personality and psyche. For the purpose of this post; however, we shall only be concerned with the piece he wrote about friends which highlights the concept of true friendship.
There in that classroom, our teacher had us write down on a piece of paper the people we felt were our true friends, people who would be there for us no matter the circumstances, no matter what.
I believe I wrote down four names – I know at least one of those names is no longer applicable. It was then I was forced to confront the reality that some of the people I spent time with were indeed, not my friends.
That was a real learning curve that I continued traveling on for the remainder of the school year. It followed me around, shadowing my thoughts like a little raincloud of sadness and ignorance at the same time. I mean, there were people with whom I thought I was friends but upon reflection we had nothing in common, they had never supported me in my endeavours and when I need someone to lean on they were remarkably always absent.
It was a tough lesson to learn, one my pseudo little sister who is still in high school articulated quite plainly the last time we spoke. I was equal parts shocked and proud that she could recognize and express what it had taken me six years to learn – friends don’t need a title because if they’re genuine you’ll know it in your heart.
When I started writing this piece I anticipated paying tribute to the people who I am honoured to call my allies, my comrades, my chums and my siblings – my friends. Well, here they are, at least some of them – if I wrote about all of them I would probably have to write a short novella.
There’s the one who conked me on the head with a paper mache mushroom and no, I’ll never let you forget that incident. He’s like my brother, even though he can be crazy, overtop and we
were are still pretty competitive on one level or another I know that he’ll vet my future partners, he’ll be at my grad (if he can, because I’m so just showing up at his) and he’ll be there at the other end of the phone when I need him the most.
*To any Teen Wolf fans he’s basically the Scott to my Stiles because I’m slightly more awkward and I have a fondness for red hoodies. Oh, and we’ve been through our fair share of serious scrapes and situations.
There’s the one who taught me that the happiest and brightest people on earth sometimes have it the worst but they still manage to help others step out of their comfort zones and teach them to trust.
Another makes me the most beautiful handmade cards and I keep them all because I know how much effort has gone into each one. Not every person can adequately convey their emotions with words, art is just another form of expressing ones feelings. She has taught to find my voice (singing voice that is) and to stop sounding like a thirty old all the time and loosen up a little.
One worries over everything but it’s only because he cares so much.
Another just rides the rad waves of life as they spill upon the shore.
While still another knows more about Jane Austen than I ever will and she writes thoughtful and kind letters too.
There’s also the whirlwind of spirit and fire, sometimes the latter is literal, that has been a constant in my life for years.
There’s the one my mom calls a pixie and another one, actually a few, who love tea and cats even more than me.
Another showed me how love changed them and in turn, their actions made me re-evaluate what I want from a partner one day.
Others share my passion for the written word and my desire to start a chain reaction of kindness.
There’s the one whose life is all about fitness and who lives life with laughter always surrounding him.
One intimidated the heck out of me when we first met, but all it took was one open and candid conversation for me to see her in a new light.
Another is a rock of professionalism.
There’s also the one who tries everything, who accepts life as it is and always makes the world shine just a bit brighter when you’re in his company.
One just lets me vent and ramble until I run out of steam.
Then there’s the the one who calls me love, in a platonic sense, and though I’ve never been partial to nicknames because they often feel forced to me – this one makes me smile.
There are so many of them, I have not listed even a fraction of my friendly army. Though by Montaigne’s definition not all of them tick off every box in the ‘be all end all friend’ category, that’s okay.
Every friend I’ve let into my life since graduation, every person I’ve kept around since then, they are in my life for a reason. They mean something to me. They are important. Full stop.
Friendship isn’t something you can have, it cannot be owned or bought. It cannot be possessed. It’s intangible; it’s the whisper of a butterfly wing, the turn of a page and the sparkle of the setting sun on the water.
To me friendship, a veritable and bona fide friendship, is the greatest form of love one can ever experience.
To my HUMSCHUMS, my sisters, my frosh folks, my high school homies, my private school peeps and all of the others in between; thank you.
*All photos have been taken from either Pinterest or Tumblr because I don’t have any photos on my laptop right now.