I’ve been home from work all this week, sick with the flu. Maybe it was the pigfluenza, I don’t know. There’s just no point in going to the doctor unless you get worse, which I didn’t. I stayed home and nearly drove myself batty alone, but the real thing I’m thinking about now is friendships. I watched Bride Wars, a film starring Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway.
In BW, the main characters are lifelong friends who plan their weddings in June at the Plaza and end up with their big days scheduled on the same day. Nothing for it but to fight. Hilarity ensues. They make up in the end after destroying their respective weddings, and both marry and live happily ever after. The voiceover, by Candace Bergen, who also plays the sought-after wedding coordinator, says: “Sometimes in life there really are bonds formed that can never be broken. Sometimes you really can find that one person who will stand by you no matter what. Maybe you’ll find it in a spouse and celebrate it with your dream wedding, but there’s also the chance that the one person you can count on for a lifetime, the one person who knows you sometimes better than you know yourself is the same person who’s been standing beside you all along.”
My problem with this movie was not in the complete unrealism of it all (Seriously, Emma could not afford that wedding on her salary, I don’t care if she’d been saving for ten years. Sorry, I’m not buying that. And come on, WHEN is the proposal scene in a movie going to include the engagement ring NOT QUITE fitting so the ring has to be SIZED?)
It’s not a problem I have, per se. But the depiction of friendship that got me thinking, as it came on the heels of a quick conversation with R, a friend of mine, about weddings being alienating. Women’s friendships are supposed to be eternal, loyal, and nearly unchanging, according to books and movies, I think. And I also think that’s not really accurate. The notion presented in the film, that a woman can find a lifelong relationship in a husband, is nothing new. We all know that story and I’m sure it’s been the death of many a happy marriage in the vain pursuit of it. The idea of finding lifelong relationships with other women, as friends, is new. To me it is, anyway. I’m still hashing out how I feel about this and I suspect this piece will be a garbled mess by the end but stick with me, I have a point.
There are things nobody tells you about when you’re a kid. There are things that don’t quite get explained to satisfaction. Friendship is one of those things. (I think the other thing is that nobody tells you what a letdown your early- to mid-twenties are either, but that’s a story for another post.) The romantic idea that female friendship, like romantic love, should stand the tests of time are immortalized in books like Anne of Green Gables, or more recently, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. But do they? In real life, do female frienships stick around that long? Or are these some kind of fantasy ideal that are the exception rather than the rule?
There was a point after college that I realized that it was starting to get harder to make friends. I’m an introvert by nature (Yes. This is very true. You have no idea.) and I struggled for years with just making friends. I know, how hard can it be? When I finally got the hang of it, all the places where it was easy to make friends dried up. In school, you have ready-made reasons to hang out with people. You have class together, you live in the same dorm, you ride the bus together. It’s much more difficult to make adult friendships, I think. People are busy with families and such.
Also, people keep moving away. (Yes, I’m looking at you, people who left Louisville and/or Kentucky to take your awesomeness elsewhere and leave us bereft of coolness. You know who you are.) In the workplace, people mostly have their own friends outside work. Mostly.
By the time you’re in your mid-twenties if you haven’t found your lifelong BFF chances are…you won’t. Right? I don’t know! Nobody told me any of this!
And if you HAVE found your BFF, did somebody give you the guide to getting along into adulthood with friends you’ve known since you had a perm and listened to New Kids on the Block? You think you’re going to have the same friendship for fifty years and the truth is you’re not.
This is not a bad thing. I’m very glad I’m not the same person I was in high school, or college, or even in my early twenties. Maybe the key is to find friends with whom you can grow with, instead of apart from. Just like a spouse or partner.
In my aforementioned conversation with R, she mentioned letting a friendship go. If I look at my current friendships, I see waves where maybe we weren’t at our best (SEE: My early twenties and half of college. Hot mess.). In the great journey of our lives, people sometimes stop for a while at Asshat or Bitchface before they roll into Sublime or Fun-to-be-with. If you’re lucky, you’re not both laid over at Jerkhole at the same time. Maybe you lean away from each other for a while, only to happily discover she’s moved on to Hilarious or Confident. Maybe she stays too long in Whinerville and you go to Content without her. The trick is knowing when to check in again and when to bid bon voyage.
If I had kids, I would tell them about this friendship thing. Maybe not until college because in grade school, people are pretty crazy and you just don’t understand how you could NOT be best friends with this person for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. I would tell my kid that her friendships are going to move and change and that’s a good thing, even though sometimes it’s a sad thing because you liked being around them or you had a good time together and it’s hard to let friends go, consciously.
And in rereading this, I agree, it’s kind of a mess, but you know this is an informal blog so that’s all I got.