I was eight when I realized my mom had a best friend. It was one of those moments in life when suddenly my mother was a person to me, not just a mom. It’s like seeing a teacher in the store when you’re a child. A teacher! In a STORE! It stretches your brain to think teachers live anywhere except in the classroom where they wait for you each morning. It humanizes them. Grown-ups: they are people, too?
I had been playing with Dustin, a friend I only hung out with when my mom and sister went to his house. He was OK, but he was a boy. He had a great stack of legos, which I appreciated coming from a non-lego household, but I always ALWAYS had to be Princess Leah when we played Star Wars and sometimes a girl wants to be able to have a light saber is all.
We were leaving Dustin’s house after a rousing rendition of Star Wars when my mom began to tear up. “What’s wrong?” I asked. She sniffled, “Joanne is moving away soon. We won’t have her to stop by her house anymore.” It was strange to me that my mom would cry about this. I was ok with Dustin moving. Didn’t she realize Joanne only had BOYS? No Girls? She sniffled again. “She’s my best friend, sweetie, and it’s hard to have friends move away.”
I learned two things that day. 1. I wouldn’t have to be Princess Leah all the time if I could get Dustin to leave me his Star Wars toys if his new room was too small and 2. My mom had a best friend just like I did.
What the hell.
I wrapped my brain around my own best friend moving. What if she left me? Would I cry? Probably. But she had dolls and cool records. Joanne didn’t have any dolls. SHe had boys. I tried to point this out to my mom but it was futile, she was upset and was sad to see her friend go.
Over the years my mom would tell me, like a record, friendships are squishy, moldable, resistant. People will filter in to your life as you flow along. Some will stick. Others won’t. Life is pliable. Every aspect. Relationships are no different.
I’ve left a lot of friends over the years. I’ve made new friendships that I couldn’t imagine not having in life. But as a mother now, I understand something I would never appreciate until this very moment: my children have friendships based on my friendships. Even if they are a boy.
Friends can part ways for a variety of reasons. Schedules become tight. Family life changes. A move to another area of town makes gathering a bit more complex. But the hardest transition of all is when you suddenly realize a friendship is not enriching your life. To step away from a friend, however many years in to the relationship, is painful regardless of how right it may be. THe children who grew up together, however young they are now, will remember their parents friends. And, as pliable as life truly is, memories form around experiences however brief in time.
It is with sadness and acceptance that I recently understood this reality. It became even more real as I hear of a possible move from a family dear to us. I wonder at times which bothers me more, the knowledge that people may not stick in my life for ever or the fact that I will be OK after all the changes settle?
For as much wonder and goodness as I have in my life, the children who surprise me with wit and kindness, the people I meet who truly understand me, and the future in a job I adore and a house we can grow in, I appreciate how fleeting time can be. However much we strive to hold on.
Anne Lamott tells us, “Listen to your broccoli, and your broccoli will tell you how to eat it.” She’s referring to that inner voice that we hardly ever hear anymore.
Today, take a few minutes to be still and quiet. Listen to your inner voice and write what she/he says. That’s it. Whatever it is that’s in there, let it out.
People participating this week:
14 guests here now.
Broccoli gives me gas.
Wait, is this not what this post was about?
By Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing on 2010 01 19
I love our boyz.
By Dawn on 2010 01 19
One of the things that has been the hardest about moving around so much is having to find out the hard way which friends will “stick” and which ones don’t. No way to predict that a girl I met for two weekends in 1998 is still a great friend and my first college roommate isn’t.
I’m amazed some times that we hear / talk so much about dating relationship break-ups and so little about friendship break-ups and changes.
By TexasRed on 2010 01 19
1. You made me cry.
2. This post is beautiful.
3. I love you. I’m glad we can be friends even from afar.
By i am lotus on 2010 01 19
I am a new reader and I LOVE this post. Friends. Your mother sounds wonderful.
By Jennifer on 2010 01 19
Awww, beautiful post. I recognize those three boys! :D
By Al_Pal on 2010 01 19
This is a sad and profound truth, beautifully written. And I wonder what ever happened to Todd who lived across the street when I was six. He never made me be the “girl” and I was the only girl at his birthday party. It was awesome. He was cute, too.
By CitricSugar on 2010 01 19
Your mom has it right…friendships come and go and they can be resistant, resilient, mold-able, and stick over time. I always find that the true test of friendship is that regardless of how long time has passed, friends will reconnect and it feels like no time has been lost in mere seconds.
As one who feels like all of my/our friends have left and moved on, I can understand your feeling.
That top photo is pretty darn cute! Two cuties…so long ago!
By Traci on 2010 01 19
Aww, Flinger! That was lovely!
By maria on 2010 01 20
Having moved around all my childhood as an Air Force brat, I envy my kids’ ability to maintain friendships across more than a couple of years. What strikes me most, though, is seeing how so many of the friendships are outgrown as the years pass us by. Fleeting is right. And being okay afterwards is right, too.
I love your selection and placement of photos throughout this.
By patois on 2010 01 20
A reason, a season or a LIFETIME.
Life, bitch. Bring it.
By VDog on 2010 01 20
Oh, I just loved this post. It made me teary eyed this morning. You are such a beautiful writer, my friend! xo
By Amy on 2010 01 21