Elizabeth and I were twelve years old sitting next to each another on John Bosco’s couch at his 13th birthday party. After a secret exchange of the presents we bought she said “You’re really cool.” With my eyes wide open realizing that we’ve been around each other everyday for the past 8 years without being official friends, “You’re cool too.” I responded. That’s it. Best friends for life. It was that easy…back then. There were no kids, husbands, or socioeconomic concerns that divided us. We didn’t care about religion, politics, careers, or the subtle rhetoric that adults pick out and quickly judge when they meet someone new. Social graces were kept to a minimum – because let’s face it, kids are kind of rude to each other, and it’s accepted.
It’s not easy making friends as an adult, and nearly impossible to cultivate adult friendships as deep and meaningful as the childhood ones we had spent hundreds of hours investing time in. As grown ups it’s impossible to replicate the extreme closeness that growing together embodies in a platonic partnership.
Being an adult at the playground is much harder than being a kid.
After repeatedly running into one another and having numerous conversations, when do you segue into making official plans with a new friend candidate? How do you know when to turn an acquaintance into a friend? What determines the extent of my emotional investment in someone is if they’re worth my time. My kids hog it during the day and at night I’m in the studio writing, blogging, painting, etc… Is this person worth sacrificing a blog post, a TV show, or sitting on the couch with my husband? For the most part, the answer [so far] has been yes.
When the first meet up arises I clean my house and maybe put something slightly nicer on than the usual yoga pants. I’ll have some snacks and possibly a bottle of wine if I’ve been given the green light in a previous conversation. Wine or no wine? Yet another example of the complexities of friend making as a grown up.
What we’re really doing is dating, all over again…
A couple of weeks ago I put on a dress and went a to group friend date. We chose the Raven and the Peach because we’re firstly we’re food people, plus being frugal and in the know I discovered that there was tapas Tuesday. Small plates of culinary divinity, free wine served by the friendliest staff money can buy. I came in my dress – a casual Saturday choice for some, but an all out dressing up dress for me. It was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time. We all got along splendidly, and it illustrates the fact that I don’t need to be drunk and/or making a fool of myself to have an all out blast. Just as I evolved into the mother and wife I am today, so did my idea of fun. To those of you who think I’m lame and old: I promise you one day you’ll understand that your idea of fun will change because you-will-change.
The tapas were better than any shot of tequila. I should mention that my friends’ lives and mine are surrounded by preparing a meals, shopping in grocery stores like their boutiques, and trolling around the internet for recipes. Food is an inescapable chore, our deepest pleasures, and the prominent content of our reading material . When we have a chance to escape out domestic workhouses we’re going to sit pretty and wait for the best possible food we can get our hands on…and we did just that.
This article says if our lives lack meaningful friendships we’re more likely to die earlier. In another article, I read that not having close relationships is physically equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Seriously, it’s been scientifically proven that friends, no matter the distance between you and them, play a vital role in our mental and physical we being. We’re people with needs, we need the support of good friends, and you’re husband doesn’t really count. While John is my best friend, sometimes that friendship can come with a list of chores attached to it. There are times when I want to disengage from my domestic job, and just be me as an individual rather than a part of a family unit with a list of responsibilities. I’ve recognized that I possess a set of emotional needs that John cannot fulfill. Just as I can’t be everything to him, he can’t be everything to me. If I completely relied on him for all of my emotional needs I would risk losing a part of my identity that might have very well been the part that he fell in love with.
It’s been twenty years of crying until our eyes hurt, laughing until we lose our breath, and she’s still sitting next to me on a couch on tapas Tuesday at Raven and The Peach. A best friend, a sister in law, plus two very special “adult” friends is like a plate of tapas from the best restaurant.