Friends for the Journey, or Parts thereof

An old friend and I have been chatting about friendships, types of them, what we hope for, what we have, what our categories are for relationships we consider ideal.  We’ve been friends since before first grade and also went to college together.  Most days we connect online.  It’s been fun to hear her thoughts.

As I reflect on this, let’s start with the fact of gratitude for anyone who journeys with me through life any distance at all, given that I’m a mess, didn’t learn to be a decent friend til later in life, and generally am in awe when people stick around after they find out I’m not perfect (which happens fast).

This is a theoretical examination of relationships in general, which emerged out of a conversation about an article my friend Dennard found, a Politics Daily post about a New York Times article (find it through the PD post, lest I have link upon link and no blogpost) about educators and “experts” trying to protect young teens from the horrors (?) of having a best friend.  Melinda Henneberger defends BFF’s, and my friend Dennard and I got to talking about the sorts of friendships that we have and value.  It was interesting.

We talked about categories — family, chosen family, neighbors, close male friends, collective friends (i.e. whole groups, some members of which we are closer to than others but generally considering the whole group friends), friends with common experiences (contingency friends, perhaps… from “the kids’ soccer team” or “the PTA,” relationships which sometimes fade when the context does), neighbor friends (people whom we can call to check on the dogs or make sure we turned off the stove).

What are your categories?  As I thought more about it, I realized that friendships I’ve enjoyed often include these elements:

  • Otherness — When I was young, I was intrigued with houses that were messy or had smells that we didn’t have (vanilla custard); as an adult I am drawn to people from different cultures and life experiences.
  • A “you and me against the world” element — in childhood, exemplified by a guy friend who defended me against evil, real and imagined; in adulthood, I’ve gravitated to some situations where the other person and I were allied to “fight the good fight.”
  • Midwesterners from large families who form singing groups — Yes, I know this is pretty specific… but I’ve just about always had a friend from that category in my life, ever since I met my first Midwesterner, southerner that I was.  Extra points if they put out an album or performed at church suppers or rode around on a bus (or all three).
  • Kids I bond with in public by waving and talking to them, even when we have no language in common.
  • People I talk to about the Bible but with whom I have very little else in common.
  • Younger people I mentor who often mentor me back.
  • Strangers about whom mutual friends insist, “You two have to meet,” and then we do meet online or by phone, and we support each other and listen and pray even though in several cases we have never met in person even several years later.
  • My beloved “Wasabis” (whom I wrote about last year after our reunion) — a group of 16 who meet up yearly, college friends who have bonded more since than during college, in my opinion.

And then, yes, I have all the normal categories of friends we talked about above.  Amazing, amazing people in my life.  I am truly grateful.

What about you?  What are the elements of your friendships (current or hoped for)?

I felt happy for this fellow... a man of many friends.

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~ by Cary on July 13, 2010.

One Response to “Friends for the Journey, or Parts thereof”

  1. […] via Friends for the Journey, or Parts thereof « Holy Vernacular. […]

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