Monday, August 3, 2015

Evolution of a friendship

Take a moment to think about your best friend(s). Is there something you absolutely love about them? Do they bring out the best in you? Can you trust them with your innermost thoughts? Do you believe your friendship will stand the test of time?

A dandelion in Regent's Park. (Rachel Poletick)
These are not typical questions we ask ourselves about our friendships. As we float like seeds in the perpetual wind of life, we gather up relationships and are lucky if a few of them gives us "yes" answers to the aforementioned questions. If we do, those friendships will hopefully grow and bloom. If not, they may wilt.

But what are we supposed to do if we refuse to accept even the foregone conclusion?

That perhaps not all friendships are meant to last.

There was once a time when I could say I'd never lost a friend. I was young then, and unfortunately that time did not last very long.

Over the years, I've met a very many people and called a small number of them "best friends." Of those best friends, I've been somehow able to hold onto quite a few. On this day and counting, my closest friendships have lasted for around a decade. That's almost half of my life, and by my estimation quite an accomplishment.

In those 10 years I've observed the many twists and turns of a healthy friendship: the stages which they often enter and exit, regardless of how we may try to manipulate them.

As they begin, there is hesitation. We tell each other parts of ourselves, but not the whole. We don't even know where we'd begin with the whole. But as more and more pieces are shared, we feel closer and safer with our new confidantes.

Soon, we're able to talk with relative freedom. We have experienced enough reactions to know where to start and (hopefully) where to stop. We begin to trust our friends, and we don't fear their judgment like we may have before.

If we live close together, we see each other regularly and perhaps frequently. There is a closeness that is afforded by proximity, but also by companionship.

This has all been the upswing. Then there's the inevitable parting.

I've never stayed in the same place as any single friend of mine, and I doubt many of us have. Whether it's the break as we head off to college, the return home after our senior years, or the transition to adult life in some other distant place, the chances are we will separate at some point.

The cooling off period from a very close friendship is the moment when those earlier questions present themselves, whether or not we choose to answer them.

Some decide to put their distant friendships on temporary hold, channeling energy into their local friendships, but making themselves available to those old friends whenever they should call.

Others feel a growing detachment and allow themselves to separate from faraway friendships, pushing them to wilt peacefully and untouched.

Still some try very hard to keep their friendships alive no matter the distance. But as we know from the many horror stories told of long distance relationships gone sour, the more we push the harder it may be to maintain the closeness we desire.

Now if I knew what path was best, I would have said something by now. Unfortunately, I don't. What I do know is that after answering those questions, I'm usually better equipped to allow the wind to lead me where it may, even if that means letting go for a while.

If we are friends, or if we have been, thank you for being a part of my journey and letting me be a part of yours. One day, I hope we are together and that these questions occur to both of us. And that we know without a doubt that the universal answer is "yes."

A Happy Esther Day to all of my loved ones.

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