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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

On Thursday, Ralph and I celebrated a friendvesary with a couple we met here in Franklin last year. We met Him before we met Her. He was signing books at the Main Street Festival, and we struck up a conversation about his book, then bought the book. After a few weeks we decided to get together for a drink and he introduced us to Her.

We hit it off immediately.

Fast forward a year, and They invited us out for a friendversary celebration. It involved cocktails, so you know we went. As we sat talking about everything and nothing, I enjoyed the simple act of Having A Friend.

I don’t have a lot of friends. That isn’t a “boohoo feel sorry for me” kind of thing. It’s just a fact thing. I get along with pretty much everyone but I don’t connect with mostly anyone. So it got me thinking about what it is that makes that connection. Why, in a world where you meet about ten zillion people (more or less), do some become friends? How do you know when you’ve sparked that connection?

The truth is… you just do. Sometimes it isn’t a thing that you can put into words, but since I am blogging daily using words, I decided to try.

This is my take on friends.

A friend is someone who will water your plants.

Nobody puts that on a t-shirt, do they? But who else are you going to give your key to so they can enter your house and neither kill your plants nor ruin your furniture when the water runs through in a torrent?

When it comes to friends you always hear the clichés. Friends know where the bodies are buried! A friend tells you the truth!

Actually, no. A friend lies to you when you need them to. I know the truth. Sometimes I don’t want to hear the truth.

I look fat in these jeans, I know it. Do I need my friend to tell me the truth? No. I need my friend to tell me that I am the most beautiful thing ever and all men in the world will swoon.

That’s what I need.

My friend knows that.

Sometimes a friend needs to tell you that life sucks and everything sucks and it always will so go ahead and eat that buttered biscuit, and sometimes a friend needs to tell you that you’re ok and everything else will be, so stop whining and put down the buttered biscuit.

A friend knows the difference.

They just do. I don’t know how, but I know it happens.

What else does a friend do…

A friend answers your texts. They don’t have their “read” receipt on but then you never hear a word back for like two weeks.

Also, friends sometimes text first. It doesn’t have to be always. Or even most of the time. But at least once every six months or so, they need to be first.

Do you want me to say that friends never forget your birthday? Well, I’m not going to. Friends might forget your birthday. People who remember your birthday have good calendar systems and are OCD about setting up their reminders and making sure cards go out on time. I get a lot of birthday wishes exactly on time from people I don’t even know, because we are connected on LinkedIn or some stupid social media platform that pops up a message about my birthday and all the Pavlovian responses flood in.

No. Friends might remember the exact day, or maybe they only remember a week later, but they always show up. Eventually. It is never rote.

What else… friends listen. Friends don’t wait for their turn to talk next. In fact, they may never get a “next”. Sometimes it’s all about you. Sometimes they just listen and listen and listen. The end.

Friends never spell your name wrong.

Friends do stuff they don’t want to because you do want to. I’m not saying all the time, because friends also say things like “oh hell no!” but sometimes when you ask them to come over for a board game they say ok even though they hate board games, and they have fun with you and never remind you how much they hate board games because of course they are having the best time with you.

They will also never make you go to that cocktail bar you hate because they know you hate it.

Friends know which cocktails you like. Period.

And they know what you’re allergic to and will never show up at a potluck with, say, an avocado, if they know you’ll be there and you are allergic to avocado.

Friends tell you stuff. They don’t have to tell you ALL the stuff because they are allowed to have personal things or things they only tell their spouse or their mother or maybe nobody ever. But they also share things with you that they don’t share with everyone on Facebook. These are the things that bind you.

When you are with a friend you don’t have to put on your nice shirt or brush your hair. You also don’t have to talk about how great your life is because it doesn’t matter. You never have to be better than your friend. You never need to prove that you are smart or successful or pretty or funny.

Your friends know that sometimes you are the most boring person in the world and they also know that you will never be able to get them their dream job or edit their book or deal with their mother but they are ok with that. They like you anyway.

Friends are not perfect manifestations of everything you ever wanted in a person. Sometimes they are less attentive than you want them to be. Sometimes they have their own thing even though you have a thing and someone’s thing has to take precedence and sometimes that isn’t yours. But friends know this, understand this, and don’t have to forgive this, because it’s just the way it is and not a thing to apologize for.

Friends commiserate with you. That means the same things annoy you and if you tell them how the stupid pea flew across the room when you tried to get it into the slow cooker, they will absolutely get it.

That doesn’t mean you think alike. Sometimes you have completely different opinions. Sometimes you don’t even get how your friend can have such a stupid opinion. Sometimes you will tell them that, and sometimes you won’t because you are a friend and you know when to speak up and when to shut up.

Or maybe you don’t, and you say something stupid and your friend gets hurt and then you make a face at each other. But you always come back. Maybe you apologize or maybe you play Parcheesi. It doesn’t matter, because you know you are with your friend.

This is very romantic, no? I think everyone will want to print my words of wisdom on greeting cards and send them on anniversaries.

If you feel particularly great about something, your friend feels great, too. If you are feeling particularly crappy about something, your friend feels crappy, too. If you have no idea how you feel about something, your friend gives you perspective because they are not living inside that stupid thing you call a brain and sometimes they understand you better than you understand yourself.

Or maybe they don’t understand you at all, and tell you so. Or maybe they don’t tell you so and just let you talk about the great and crappy things and love you anyway. This doesn’t make them duplicitous. If you ask, they will tell you the truth. But remember, you don’t always want the truth.  Sometimes you just want a friend.

Is your friend always there for you? You’d like them to be, wouldn’t you. But people are complicated and sometimes stupid and occasionally busy and often preoccupied. Sometimes they are not there, and sometimes you don’t even let them be. But this does not change the fact that your friend is your friend.

A friend is someone you can say to, hey, dude, you are being stupid and busy and preoccupied, and they will say no I’m not! Or maybe they will say yeah, I guess you’re right. Either way you will be able to say what you think and your friend will still be your friend, and they will probably even think about being less stupid or busy or preoccupied in the future.

A friend is someone you can say anything to. And never feel bad about it. Or feel bad about it but then have a cocktail and forget about it.

A friend survives years. A friend survives boyfriends. A friend survives arguments. A friend survives apologies. A friend survives that time you couldn’t find a parking spot so they yelled at you about how you could have just left the car in that other place and then you yell back about how it would have been too far to walk and then you have a cocktail.

A friend doesn’t remind you that they’re your friend, they just are.

When a friend comes over for a visit, you run around cleaning the house for two hours so they don’t have to trip over your shoes, but after a while you just tell them not to trip over your shoes.

A friend tells you when you’re wrong. And sometimes when you’re wrong, a friend tells you nothing. This doesn’t always work to plan but friends know this.

Friends are people. Sometimes they support you and sometimes they don’t. They can love you without loving everything you do.

You can’t always trust a friend to show up on time for a movie but you can always trust them with your soul.

If you say, “Don’t tell,” they won’t. If you say, “Help,” they will. If you make a terrible pot roast, they might tell you, or they might eat it all with a smile. It depends on how many peas have escaped the slow cooker that day.

Friendships are the most complicated, simple things in the world. Why is one person your friend and another not? Because you connect. And it’s as simple and as complicated as that.

Friends can say, “I love you.”

And they may be or not be all the things you define as a friend, but in the end, they know they are one.

Here’s to the few people I call friends, you know who you are. And you know I’m not always the best one but you also love my pot roast, and in the end you know that no matter what happens, whether we celebrate a friendversary or not, this is the truth.

Photo: a cocktail shared on our friendversary. Just one photo, because we were busy being friends.