Recently I had lunch on a gorgeous sunny day in London with a fellow writer, and we were discussing amongst many things, the value of female friendships. She asked, "Do you have any sister's?" To which I replied, "No." "Nor do I," she said. "That's why I think we value our female friends so much!"
My friend's comment were a good point, and later had me reflecting on my female friends and what they mean to me.
I've known some of my friends for forty years or more ~ a lifetime. It would be true to say that there have been times when life has got in the way and contact with each other has been less often than I would have liked. Always on next meeting we pick up where we left off, as though little time had passed at all. A couple of months ago I attended with some of my friends, a 40th reunion to celebrate when we first met in Nursing school. A few people I've kept in contact with over the years, most I'd not seen for a very long time. Of course we all had 'nursing' in all its shapes and forms in common, and the fact is, it felt like no time had passed at all. There was much laughter and reminiscing, memories and so many anecdotes came flooding back. We hadn't changed at all; we were just older versions of our younger selves.
Choosing and keeping friendships suggests that friends seek to understand you, tend to be non-judgemental, honest and organically reciprocal. We accept these traits in a way that we possibly wouldn't from family. Perhaps with family there is too much baggage, too much at stake, that doesn't exist in quite the same way with friends. It's true to say that I have consciously dropped some people along the way because they haven't been good for me. We all know people who are toxic and 'suck the life out of you,' and no matter how you try otherwise, they spread too much negativity. Sometimes you just have to let go and accept what you have learnt about yourself from the situation.
What all my friends have in common is how strong and courageous we are. Life has many ups and downs, and we have risen to the challenges that life has flung our way. We've been through birth, deaths and marriages. Divorce, being broke and celebrating our successes. We laugh, we cry. We lean upon the other when times are hard, knowing that one day we will gladly lend a hand, or a shoulder to weep upon. Some friends you get drunk and silly with, and others happily stay sober for. They accept your foibles and quirks and there is something about having friends who knew you when you were young and stupid! Are we any wiser? Who knows, but I suspect the answer lies in the respect we have for each other and our life experiences. I'm still learning stuff about my friends that are being revealed even now, and that continues to surprise me. Possibly friendships sustain because they are a mirror to our own lives.
My life is moving in a new direction, and I'm pleased to say that I have new friends, writers, who I feel that I've known for a very long time. They add further colour and richness to my life. Not least, a love of books and the slightly bonkers leaning of being creative, that compliments my other friendships.
Although they do not all know each other, I'm certain that if my friends were to meet in a room together, they will have lots in common. There will be joy and laughter and raucous conversation. I wonder what my younger self would make of the older me and my friends?
"Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life." Mark Twain