Friends

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Friends

Strange things, friends. What are they exactly? And how do we make them?  In fact, do we make friends, or do we just grow together, like gardens or trees? Birds of a feather, they say, but our feathered friends are flighty and the snow-birds leave in the hard times only to return when the sun comes back. Fair-weather friends, then, and I have known a lot of those.

I turned to Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge, but all I could find under FRIENDS was a series of articles on TV shows, every episode, every actor, every friendship, every situation, but no discussion of what friendship actually meant. FRIENDSHIP: I looked that word up and the results were much more satisfying. The article ranged from a definition: ‘a mutual attraction among people’ to a series of academic studies about friendship in childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and older adults. As we age, so our notions of friendship change. In addition, as we move from place to place, job to job, so our circles of friendship grow old, renew themselves, and gradually fade away. One study shows that in adulthood we rarely have more than two good, true friends. Our acquaintances are many, but our friends are few. Old age brings a different set of equations to bear and loneliness and isolation with the consequent absence of friends, all bring their own problems, including sickness and ill-health.

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Here are some of my closest friends. Rosie is named after Rosie the Elephant in Bristol Zoo. Teddy is the Koala. Basil is the small one on the left with the pink ribbon. Chimney is the little one on the right with the orange skirt. Her name’s Chimney, but I call her Sweep. Don’t ask, I won’t tell. These friends summarize all the needs of friendship: they don’t beat me up, they listen when I talk, they don’t interrupt me, they nod silent agreement to my opinions, and they soak up my tears when I cry. They also keep me warm in bed at night. Well, Rosie and Teddy do anyway. These are not their real names, incidentally. Teddies, like cats, have secret names, and you cannot really call a teddy bear your friend until he or she has revealed that name to you. It may take years for that to happen. The speed or the slowness of the true name’s arrival has nothing to do with the success of the friendship.

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This is Princess Squiffy aka Vomit. She threw up beside my chair again yesterday and I am just not sure if that is a sign of friendship or not. At least she didn’t throw up in my chair, which is what she did last time my beloved was away visiting our daughter in Ottawa. So, how do your friends show their friendship? By sitting in silence and listening? By keeping you warm in bed at night? By throwing up in your chair? By presenting you with hairballs, so carefully formed and all gift-wrapped? I am not sure. I guess I’ll have to go back to Wikipedia and check it all out. In the meantime: here’s a picture of man’s best friend.

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I bet you weren’t expecting that!

10 thoughts on “Friends

  1. I still have an imaginary friend, how’s that for crazy? Always wished for a brother, a twin as a child and sort of kept him with me all through my life. So when I’m talking to myself, I’m really talking to him! Glad to have you for a friend too, Roger!

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    • Hi Meg: good to hear from you. I guess the missing sibling or the twin personality exists for a lot of only children. We usually grow up lonely: it’s a fact of life. In some ways, it accounts for our creativity: we invent the people we need, the shoulders we want to lean on, the teddy bears that comfort us and understand our woes. Sometimes, when I analyse all of this I think I am crazy. But then I realize I have been crazy half my life. The other half, well, I guess I was only half-crazy. Now I am a full time writer I can take out my craziness and flaunt it like a flag. Yeah, the crazies. When I look at the sober, normal, and seemingly ordinary people about me, I really wonder about them too.

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      • Right? The wild imagination probably keeps us saner than the rest of the population! It sure is nice to have someone to talk to on demand! I agree about it being related to the only child – it seems to be a common trait among us.

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      • I find it gets worse as I get older. It certainly relieves the tension though, and, as you say, I’ve always got someone to talk to. As the old song goes “The strangers came and tried to teach us their ways. / They chided us for being what they are. / But they might as well go chasing after moonbeams, / or light a penny candle from a star.” Better to live talking to a Teddy than to die in a stifling silence.

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    • It’s an hallucinogenic and has great medical and curative powers. It’s also a wonderful alcohol. I have one bottle left, just one. The good stuff, brewed locally in Oaxaca, is exceptional. It’s difficult to buy in Canada, though the liquor store did have some at one stage. It’s similar to tequila, but a different cactus, hence the mescaline. I haven’t traveled that much, Ana, but when I have, I have tried to travel ‘deep’ and I have spent a lot of time researching the areas where I returned to stay again.

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    • Thanks, Tanya. You are indeed a friend, and a very special one. It’s funny how we can make friends on line, and close friends, without ever actually meeting the people on the other side of the keyboard and the screen. There was nothing about long-distance and electronic friendships in the articles I read, yet I know of pen-friends who have written to each other for a very long time. I was surprised when, a couple of years ago, one of my (few) close friends from school re-contacted me by email. Then, a couple of years ago, he came to Canada with his wife and dropped in to visit. We hadn’t met for more than fifty years, yet the friendship was as if we had never parted. That doesn’t happen often, but it is such a pleasure when it does. I should have added that to the Blog. Well, I suppose I just did!

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      • You certainly did, and I’m glad you shared that! I believe that our real connections with people don’t dim with time or distance. I was happy to read your email, and I will be getting back to you in the next few days there. Lots of news on my end. All my best to you. Claire, Princess Squiffy and the cuddly menagerie.

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