Remember being young and spending gazillions of hours on the phone with your best friend? Passing notes in class? Those moments when a shared look spoke volumes about what you were thinking? Remember meeting that person--in a laundromat when you both had two year olds hanging on you, in that womyn's circle or book group, in that adult learning class--with whom you forged an instant connection and just knew you were sisters under the skin and would be friends forever? And forever included countless emails, laughter, tears, death-of parents, marriages, dreams, jobs. Forever was moments of deep connection, the voice always at the end of the telephone line no matter what time of day or night.
Remember how good it felt to know there was someone in your corner--and whose corner you fully occupied?
Lately, I'm aware of how many friends I've lost over the years, how many best friends & soul-sisters have vanished from my life. Some slipped away gently as our lives went in different directions, remaining as fond memories and bringing delight when our paths cross briefly & unexpectedly; we part again with promises to stay in touch but it rarely happens. You know how that goes, right? Some friends are the ones we see once or twice a year and it's wonderful & heartful, but you know deep in your heart that you're more...invested?...than they are, that if you didn't keep the candle lit it would simply sputter out. Some friendships go out with a bang--a fight, a mortal blow, a betrayal. It might take you years to recognize the part you played in it, to stop feeling like you were lucky to get out only singed and realize you lit the match, and to know it's too late to say "hey, you hurt me, but now I understand how much pain I caused you and really wish I'd done things differently." Some friendships reveal themselves to be of-the-moment or situation, not intended to last the long haul. Sometimes you just don't know where the bond has gone, or why...you just know it's gone and miss it. And one's partner or spouse is different than a 'friend' even when they're the best friend you've ever had, ya know what I mean?
I've always been an introvert, too shy to be comfortable in groups. I'm lousy at small talk (granted, some days this blog is nothing but small talk, but writing is different). It's tough to make friends, to put yourself out there when you just know you're boring & socially awkward and can't imagine why someone would particularly want to get to know you. I'm genuinely interested in others, and happy to ask them questions and learn about them, but never quite know where to go next. I think maybe it's easier when you're young. And so, lately I've realized I'm lonely. Lonely for that connection of laughing with someone else, sharing secrets and projects, discussing books and adventures, worries and joys, being able to trust that they'll tell you the truth and want no less from you.
I'm blessed to have a friend I reconnected with (thank you, cyberspace & her tenacity) a few years ago; she lives in another country and we haven't seen each other in about 37 years, but we wrote letters for two decades, and now that we're back in touch, there are emails and facebook. She's suggested I figure out skyping so we can actually talk over a cup of coffee together! I have a friend I see for a few hours two or three times a year, and it's always warm and wonderful, but other than those times, we don't really connect; emails are responded to warmly but briefly and impersonally; she's busy and I just don't factor in. There are a couple of people on facebook, but that's far too superficial for my taste. There's a sort-of coworker I think the world of, and always enjoy seeing, but we're both very busy and don't get much time to connect. And that's about it.
Oh, I know how one is supposed to make friends, but I've not ever been comfortable or successful at it. And good Goddess, who wants to appear needy? Even this blog post is making me squirm! How about you? Am I alone in feeling more isolated as I get older? Alone in finding it ever harder to make friends as time flits past? Or are you blessed with an abundance of friends and by golly, how did you make it so?