My 21st birthday dinner...Oh so formal then!
I was talking with a friend the other day about friendship. About how it impacts on our lives, from childhood and teenage friends, to becoming friends with boyfriends’s friends, husband’s friends and their wives, parents of other school children, social club friends, friends after divorce or death of a partner, passing friendships, acquaintances…and now virtual friends.
It’s complicated. And I am finding in my “middle” years that my need for friends has reduced…not that I don’t value and cherish my friends, but my actual need has lessened. Why, I wonder? I used always be a “People who need People” (with apologies to whoever wrote the song made famous in Funny Girl) sort of a person. I was always out and about, making sure that I saw my friends, knew all that was going on with them and theirs.
However, as the years have moved on, my children have become independent and my own life has taken a turn which involves a great deal of travel with my companion who lives abroad, I feel more settled with solitude.
My friends who are married don’t usually have the luxury of the occasional boredom with self…but they envy me mine! They relish the few days they have away from their spouse when a holiday or work takes them or their partner away for a few days. They then look forward to the sharing time with friends. And reconnecting after the few days apart to share news.
I have had some wonderful friendships throughout my life. While I don’t see her often, I am still in contact with friend whom I met on our first day of school in 1961.
May 1961, Loreto Kirribilli
My other “oldest” friends are very much in my life. My dear friend whom I met when we were 12 and at boarding school. My terrific friend whom I met at 14 when I moved school at that ghastly teenage period when a “friend in need is a friend indeed”. My great friend whom I met when I started work in Malcolm Fraser’s office; my dear friend with whom I have a friendship which went beyond friends to working partners and back again; a woman whom I met through my sister, and best friend. And a woman whom I met through my ex-husband and remains a great and loyal friend; and more...and perhaps most especially, my daughter. And they are just the women. I also have some great male friends, mostly husbands of my girlfriends who I know would support me in an hour of need, as I would them.
We are all great girls!
And over the years there have been friends who have dropped by the wayside for various reasons, sensible or not. But they remain in my memory fondly, and I guess that’s what friendship is all about.
I don’t yet have any “close” virtual friends. I have a few blogs which I follow and look forward to reading daily. I know people who have virtual friends, and I am sure they will meet one day as they have much in common through their blogs.
But when one moves, for whatever reason these days, is it easier to make friends “online” to avoid the awkwardness of meeting at a social club or elsewhere, if mutual friends are not at hand to make introductions? Is it not easier to type emotions and thoughts to someone who seems to be on the same wavelength? But what does this say about our sense of community?
More great dames!
The virtual world is reestablishing the ground rules of friendship. Social Media, “friends” and “defriending” are all concepts which were unknown 10 years ago, and are now very much the normality.
Online dating sites have their own etiquette for meeting “friends”…yes, it’s a different world. A better world? Time will tell. But for me, nothing is more valid in friendship than eye contact, voice contact and genuine caring and sharing. Old fashioned? Yes, but that’s OK too.