At Some Fundamental Level
I am the worst friend. Always have been. I cannot be counted on (in most cases) to keep in touch. I never call (hate phone conversations) and rarely initiate anything. I am thankful for places like Facebook. It allows me to appear a decent friend when really, I am lazy and forgetful. I am grateful for friends that understand that about me and for the most part, are ok with it.
A list of things most of us want in a friend: Honesty, loyalty, dependability, they have integrity and are trustworthy. A good sense of humor is a plus. Someone who is fun or a good listener might be a good thing. Compassion and understanding go a long way, especially if your life is a complete disaster or you make a great many mistakes.
Some things are easier to overlook, like political leanings, or fashion choices (equal importance here). Music and movie choices really don’t matter much. Having similar interests can be helpful but we rarely expect our friends to want to do all the same things we do (people who expect such things are meanies). That is the reason for multiple friends. You get to be outside with some, while others are great drinking buddies. Others are good for a quiet dinner or a movie night. No one can ever be all things to a friend, which is a good thing.
The older I get, the fewer friends I have, the fewer I need.
The best thing about the friends I do have- they expect little from me. We can go months or years without constant communication, then find ourselves in the same room, talking and laughing, picking up where we left off and everything is fine. I miss them and they miss me, but our lives take us in different directions and places. Our relationships take a back seat to those things. Understanding that makes everything easier, better, makes the time we do spend together more important.
Recently, I spent an evening with a friend I had not sat across from in over a decade. How fantastic it was to reconnect, discover that after all this time we still had a great many things to say to each other. Even more outstanding, he was still the same smart, clever, funny person I remembered.
Too many times in the past few years, reconnecting was a painful disaster. Changes are subtle and slow. When those changes are viewed without the filter of time, in their rawness, when two people realize they have changed in contrary directions, friendships are often over. We rarely see how different we become until something casts light on it. These interactions uncover and display how I have changed, reveal how much fundamental parts of me, things I used to keep secret, have grown to define who I am. I am grateful for them and the clarity they provide.