“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather, it is one of those things that give value to survival. C.S. Lewis
A few weeks ago, I found myself at a brewery late at night with three people I don’t know all that well. Anyone who has met me knows how far out of my comfort zone that situation is. The people weren’t strangers, exactly. I see Crystal every month at RWA meetings, I’ve met Mark at a few writing conferences. OK, well, Phillip was a stranger until we met at a writing class earlier that very day. We gathered at the hotel bar in between seminars and the conversation tripped around the table – craft beer and Rush and writing and religion and politics. We changed location and the talk kept tumbling around – adoption and parenting and marriage and rude jokes and favorite books and tattoos and quoting Planes, Trains, and Automobiles almost in its entirety. (Her first baby came out sideways. She didn’t scream or nothin’.). Serious and ridiculous and honest and real. At one point, the menfolk got up to get a pizza, and I said to Crystal, “This is weird, right? This grouping of people and this crazy conversation?” It felt so alive and sort of magic and I didn’t want the night to end. (But it did, because every introvert has her melting point.) It was so hard to explain it all to Joe when I got home. I doubt that foursome will ever converge again. Maybe that’s what made it such a fun night – the topics could freewheel around the table and no one was all that concerned about putting up a false appearance. We just connected for a while, and then said goodnight.
There are all sorts of good, valid reasons adulthood takes its toll on friendships – jobs, kids, marriage, divorces, mortgages, and all the other stuff of life. It all takes up our time and makes it hard to make new friends and even harder to maintain relationships that we aren’t legally bound to. A lot of people cite social media as a great way to keep up with old friends, but I’d argue that the opposite is true. We check people’s status – at Starbucks! Got a new dog! And we hit “Like” or even “Love” and we move on with our day. We know, down deep, that it’s not a real connection, but we comfort ourselves that at least we’ve acknowledged each other and we vow to get in touch for long chat later.
By an amazing stroke of luck, I’m having four of my best friends in the world together in one place this weekend. I’m almost dizzy with anticipation. I might clean my house, and I might wear make up, and I might make lasagna from scratch. Also? I might not do any one of those things. And none of them will care at all. So maybe that is the key to adult friendship. Nowadays, we only want the freedom to be real. That conversation will also be a magic unicorn tumbleweed of topics. We make each other laugh – really, really hard. We don’t lie about things being great when they actually suck. We just don’t have the energy to care about the appearance anymore. We care about what is real. We are all becoming Velveteen Rabbits who are just a little drunk on Syrah.
I never get tired of reading about friendship, and what it means to people. Check out some of these stories by writers I love:
How to Make Friends As An Adult
Why Adult Friendships Make Me Sad Sometimes
The Joy of All-Female Gatherings (Also from Jo: Making New Friends)
Adult Friendship is an Investment Requiring Some Work
The Secret to Staying Friends in Your 30s (I’m in my 40s, but the advice holds…)
What have you learned about friendship as you’ve grown older? I’d love to hear your thoughts…