Blood may be thicker than water, but without water there is no life as we know it. Friends give our lives so much of their meaning. My friends are just…great. Today is one of my best friend’s birthdays and also the day of learning about another best friend’s best friend’s tragedy. The celebration/desperation conflict reminds me that above all else, friends should always be appreciated. Cliché as this may sound, these pivotal moments in life are what inspire folk tales, puns and clichés, themselves.
In contemplating the value of friendship, I consider that one of these aforementioned best friends I’ve known since Kindergarten; the other I’ve known only 7.9% of my life. Friendship is that unique relationship in life that wields both shared history and immediate compatibility into its fold. My golden old friendship runs deep, with memories stemming from before the time when even some of my “thick blood” entered the picture. My silver friendship has the immediacy of recent choice involved; I found someone I wanted to share time and life events with – and they liked me back.
If this sounds like the makings of a new crush, it should; friends are chosen just like boyfriends – only they don’t have to buy me a drink. Saint Katherine caused a stir by proclaiming friendship trumps romantic relationships. Although JD is my trump card, I give the sister credit for her reasoning: friendship is not influenced by physical, but solely by spiritual, emotional and intellectual compatibility. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that I was teased at school by being called ‘St Katherine’ and I’ve wound up with fantastic friends. Friendship can often withstand long distance better than romance. Having weathered the ups and downs of romantic long-distance, JD is both friend and partner. But this post is about friendships that don’t involve romance. It’s about recognizing what an amazing feat it is for two strangers to develop a non-sexual, non-gene-sharing bond that keeps them forever in each other’s lives and in each other’s’ hearts. Friendship is just plain special.
While some of my friends date back to diaper days, today’s focus is new friendships; nearly instant recognition of a kindred spirit in a nearly stranger. Moving abroad steroids the experience. Being so far removed from your family, long-term friends and comfort zone forces you to seek companionship with whomever is available. Yet, whether it’s because of the shared experiences of living abroad, or similarities that caused you both to go there in the first place; a sort of nature/nurture debate in the friend sphere; I have met some truly Best Friends here. Like a three-week-dating-before-engagement that somehow works out, these are people I connected with on an immediate but substantial level. They are women and men, with a 20-year age range in our close circle, coming from nearly every corner of the world. I sometimes feel I was meant to meet them; my Kiwi counterparts capable of so much compassion, my British intelligence agents who mix stiff upper lip with stiff martinis, my American pals making me proud to have been born in the USA, my Vietnamese chums who can make a funny pho-king joke (pun!), Canadian counterparts, Aussie awesomes, Dutch delights…I’m running away with alliteration now. The point is that these people are now my people, not through birthright, not through marriage, simply through mutual like.
Friends have made every corner of my life more interesting and every moment more complete. Thank you, my friends.