Firsts, Lasts, and Everythings

I had dinner, cocktails, poker, and game night with my first friend from first grade over the weekend, including her husband and my boyfriend, with lots of laughter and deliciousness.  My Mimom always told me, from the time I was a little girl, *to keep my girlfriends close, to treasure the friends I make,  that men die before women, husbands often leave, but that you will always have your girlfriends.*  I have taken her advice very seriously.  My immediate circle is very small; two close girlfriends, ‘besties’ as my granddaughters would say, but my outer circle is very large, filled with many dear friends, most of whom I only interact with in cyber space, but who I know, if I were in need, would say, “how can I help?”  There is a comfort knowing that I would do for others as I would have them do unto me.  I have known far too many people who  don’t think that way, and I suppose for them, they choose how big or how diverse they want their circle to be.

While watching my friend and our partners interact  I reflected upon the fact that she has been with me through every boyfriend, every breakup, every job, every car, every screw up, and every achievement of my life, and for both of us, if ever we are not involved with these two men, we will still be involved with each other.  I could be more involved with both of my closest girlfriends; I seldom if ever call either of them just to chat, I get together with them each about once a month, and we three work, we three have men in our lives who occupy our other hours, and I know that I could DO more to be more involved with both of these women, and indeed with any or all of my cyber girlfriends, but somehow, even with the minimal involvement we all have with one another, there is a very definitive sensation of connectedness…for me at least…that I am here for them and they are here for me, however much or little we might need of each other…

I feel lucky that my relationship with my daughter is what it is…when she was a teenager I often reminded her I was not her friend, I was her mother, and it did not matter to me one bit if she didn’t like me, if I wasn’t doing what she wanted, that we did not have to be friends…but now she is an adult and my next door neighbor, and I am so glad that we have a friendship too.  I often have felt that I am nice to people and kind, because I am a kind person, not because I want something from a relationship.  I sadly have known a lot of people in my life who are only nice to people because they think they will ‘get’ something out of it…that is not a way to be a friend.  That is really more like the definition of a parasite.  I love that my daughter too has cultivated friendships that are full of love and acceptance, and that she has that same desire to be connected by choice to women who fulfill her and she them…

I have another friend who lives in New England who I met the week before I got married.  She was my neighbor on the island where I lived and her husband worked with mine and we were dear close friends for a few months, and then things changed; we both got divorced, moved, our lives became completely detached, but you know what?  In the spring of 2012 we had a brief 6 hour visit as she moved from Florida back to Massachusetts, and before that we had not seen each other since my daughter was in kindergarten, and we miss each others phone calls several times a year, but when I speak to her…it is as if no time has passed, we just are friends…it is VALUABLE, it is more important than any things we could own, any savings we could have, any flashy car we could drive, those things are just surface materialistic things…friendships are priceless.

My sister and I have had some ups and downs, but since the late summer we have made a deliberate effort to reconnect, and there is a history there that no friendship can match…when you have been raised by the same two people and shared the same roof, holidays, and experiences, despite the occasional differences or hang-ups, a sister is a relationship that you will have until you die…it’s up to you to maintain it, to extend the proverbial olive branch when needed, to sweep the differences under the rug and forget about them when necessary, or not.  There are some relationships that neither time nor forgiveness can heal.

I was friends for 22 years with a woman who I really felt connected to, but she chose to end the friendship.  I struggled for a year, wondering what exactly I did that made her mad, how I failed as a friend, what I didn’t do right, where it went wrong…and then I came to simply accept that she didn’t need me.  She made a conscious choice to stop being my friend.  It hurt terribly because we had SO many fun times together, but I understood that for her, the relationship had run its course…like many relationships, they just end…I have a long list of ex-boyfriends to show for it…people who you really like or love, for whatever period of time, and then you don’t.  It’s kind of simple really…if you can accept it.

Your girlfriends will be by your side through every screw up and every greatness, if you want them to.  They will become a piece of your history/herstory if you’d rather.  I have some girlfriends who get their nails done every week and buy shoes that cost as much as my electric bill, I have some girlfriends who struggle to pay their electric bill and are happy to buy their shoes at Payless.  They don’t seem to ever judge me, that although I graduated first in my class at college, I now clean the toilets and pull the weeds and paint the walls for the rich and famous.  They accept me for me and I accept them for them.  Just like whether or not you like vanilla or you’d rather have chocolate, you decide what you want in your life and you decide what you want out.  You tend to a friendship like a seedling if you want it to grow and to blossom and you can ignore it if you want it to just dry up and die.  I have made many questionable choices in my life, but deciding to tend to a few really beautiful friendships isn’t one of them.

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