WILD, WACKY FRIENDSHIPS
I don’t obsess about aging, but I do wonder how many years are left before I hit my expiration date, which triggers thoughts about how I want to spend those years. Milestone birthdays do that to you. My hope was to morph into one of those wild and wacky older women featured on greeting cards. You know the ones—blithe, self-possessed, laughing and kicking-up their heels arm-in-arm with a group of equally, age-defiant, female friends. Sadly, over the past few years, that image shattered like stress cracks in auto glass as, one by one, my longtime friends all moved away. The exodus started out small, and then spread like a starburst as the layers of glass split, leaving me kicking up my heels alone, via emails, Facebook, or text messages.
It’s said that ‘real’ friends go for months without seeing or talking to each other, and then pick up where they left off. I’m not a big believer in that line of thinking. For me it’s the day-to-day stuff that sustains intimate relationships. When friends are out of touch for too long, catching-up is overwhelming, so we condense, skimming over details and leaving out major chunks of the saga of our lives. We fall out of sync, and close friendships drift into the Christmas-card exchange category, and fall out of the sharing-over-coffee, intimate friend category. Maintaining close friendships takes effort and usually proximity. Close friends stay… well…close.
Which brings me to why I’ve been MIA, with no blog posts, for the past two weeks. My best friend is here, visiting from England. Her airline ticket was a birthday gift from my husband. How great is that? To make things even better, her birthday falls a few days after mine.
Background: Jo and I met when we were puppies, in our early thirties, and bonded like cement. She moved home to England in 2001 to take care of her ailing, elderly mother. For eighteen years we’ve lived a continent and an ocean apart, but distance hasn’t dampen our friendship. We chat on the phone, email, and catch-up in person during Jo’s almost annual trips to Arizona.
Everything I’ve learned about how to be a good friend I’ve learned from Jo. She’s a big-picture person, in it for the long haul. Jo can brush things off, balancing a friend’s bad day or miss-speak against the broader picture of their true nature. Since I am prone to irritation and don’t hide it well, I truly need and appreciate a friend who will both cut me slack and slap me upside the head when I need it. She makes me lighten up and laugh—not always an easy task. Jo checks in often, remembers birthdays, prioritizes get-togethers, and celebrates her friends’ successes with honest pleasure. Now, I’m not as good as Jo at any of this. She sets the friendship bar pretty high, but I try my best to follow her example.
Jo has a great generosity of spirit. Before she moved back to England in 2001, she gave her group of girlfriends her “buddy list”, with each person’s contact information. We all knew each other on some level, but our real connection to each other was Jo. The string attached was that we were all to get together often enough to become friends ourselves. And so we did, to the benefit of each one of us, as different as we all are. Now when Jo visits, getting the group together is something we all look forward to. We’ve had some great times.
Six of us in Jo’s circle have birthdays within days of each other (all Aquarians.) You can guess what this means—a major excuse for a party. This visit we pulled five of the six together (and three spouses) for an uproarious, celebratory dinner at a local, cowboy steakhouse. The wine and margaritas were flowing, and laughter was abundant. I’ll insert a picture taken at the beginning of the evening. As the dinner progressed, the rest of pictures are a blur of animation with ladies talking across, around, and at each other, sharing cell phone pictures and toasting everything we could think of.
Wacky, wild, crazy ladies! Thanks to Jo, there might be potential for some heel-kicking-up in my old age after all.
IMAGES: Top left: Just before Jo moved home to London. Top right: As requested, group outing - we made her a poster of this picture. Center bottom: Recent group dinner celebrating five Aquarian birthdays (top left, a friend of Jo's and now ours who moved to AZ from Portland.)
2/17/2019 11:42:03 am
2/17/2019 01:31:06 pm
I could use some lessons from Jo because whenever I encounter a neighbor or friend who seems to love lamenting I can't seem to make them lighten up and laugh no matter how much I try. Maybe lamenting is their goal in life? Yikes! Glad it's not mine. Ha ha!
2/18/2019 02:42:41 pm
Sometimes all you can do is listen and that's what they need. It's gets to be a problem is that ALL they do and they recycle the same issues over and over. It's hard to deal with someone like that.
2/17/2019 04:01:41 pm
Wooohooo!! Glad you’re having a great time!!!
2/18/2019 10:41:12 am
Thanks for reading ! Dying to hear all about Westminster :)
2/18/2019 08:02:02 am
Loved reading your take on milestone birthdays as we are aging and your views on friendships. Although I do believe one can have a close friendship where you can just pick up from where you left off, I agree that having a friend (or friends) close by makes kicking up your heels and sharing life moments much more satisfying for all involved.
2/18/2019 10:44:24 am
Thank You ! I do have friends that have moved, and when we visit, we enjoy a fun time and catchup.It's definitely doable. But there is nothing like the sister-like closeness that comes from proximity and being totally into each other's lives. You just can't do that with too many people though...not enough time in a day. I don't think it's possible to have more than two or three truly intimate friendships on that level.
2/18/2019 03:10:29 pm
Well, Lynn....that was wonderful. I really enjoyed reading this essay on friends/the years/the moves/the bonds. I do hope we can meet again soon.
2/21/2019 03:00:31 pm
I'd really love to plan a trip up your way sometime. Thanks for reading :)
2/20/2019 03:24:05 pm
Lynn, I really enjoy the way you write. You obviously enjoy it and I love the descriptions. What a wonderful tribute to Jo! She is truly a great friend.....to all of us! I'm so glad we shared this birthday together again and my heels are ready to kick anytime!
2/21/2019 03:03:27 pm
Jo is wonderful about introducing her friends to each other. I've tried it, but I find most woman aren't receptive and want to keep things one-on-one. Never have understood that. So pleased we got to do the BD dinner !
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