We do not choose our family. Sometimes, we don’t always consciously choose a lover. But our friends? An entirely different matter.
With few exceptions, and barring any psychopathy, as humans we seem to need friends. We might forget that we need them because in the busy rush of life, of work, of family, of partner or lovers it’s easy to believe that a friend will always be there. Whatever there is and wherever THERE happens to be. It’s a curious lesson how transitory and impermanent always can be.
A while ago, I was working very close to 24/7, thinking I was busy and important. And so were my three closest friends. We were all crazy busy, yet somehow managed to stay connected, see each other, laugh, cry, grump, hang out, drive each other crazy, share interesting thoughts and discoveries with each other and love each other as only friends can.
And then, in a period of four months, my three closest friends moved far, far away: one clear across the country to the west coast, Vancouver. The other, way east, to some odd cove in Nova Scotia, and one several hours north of the Toronto. Might as well have been another galaxy.
I did not pout, although there was a moment of wanting to and had I been eight years old, I might have. But I didn’t. I promised to stay in touch, visit as time and life allowed, and keep a light on for when they visited. I simply turned the page. What else is there to do?
In truth, I thought I was okay with it. Things do change. Life changes. I compartmentalized it into that place reserved for changing schools mid-year, changing work departments, saying goodbye to summer loves.
I worked harder and longer — even in my sleep — and that slight furrow line between my eyebrows became more noticeable. I spent more time with that special someone.
I was not okay with it. I did not take the time or emotional space to adjust to this new reality, this newer always. I had not processed that my friends were no longer a constant presence and not far away. Whether I liked it or not, and I so did not like having to deal with it, my friends moving away was indeed a significant loss and change. And I was a bit lost.
Work and lovers are good, but friends are as essential as oxygen. And finding new friends is WAAAAY harder to find than new lovers or jobs.
So I wondered: How to find new friends? There are no books on What to do when your best friends leave town.
There are no classes on How to pick up a new friend or three. Is it even..allowed in the manners books?
There’s little guidance. Do you fill the space? Do you grieve?
It was a curious time. I found myself reading a lot. Book are always the best of friends.
Yet the friends that had moved away were, I thought, truly irreplaceable. The one that moved to the east coast? She gave me a subscription to the National Enquirer one Christmas. I gave her an equally meaningful gift the following year: I made a very special art piece just for her, a huge collage using the National Enquirer’s wacky headlines and pictures that I cut out over the year.
The one that moved to the west coast? Together we — um — tied up our office assistant in his chair and left him there while we went for lunch. He said he liked it! Oh, and blindfolded another colleague for her birthday and drove her around the city in a big windowed van to take her to a very old fortune teller.
The one that moved north of the city? For her birthday, some other friends and I made a video in which I interviewed — with a very straight interviewer face — all of her ex-lovers (the ones I knew of) and held a screening of it in front of ALL of her friends.
And those were just the antics. The real times were of talking, checking in, and listening; just breathing together.
I did not know what I was going to do. It’s hard to make new friends.
Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive. ~Anäis Nin
We kept in touch the group of us. Just less frequently.
And it happened that in time and without me fussing it too much that new people appeared in my life and combatting shyness, I cultivated some new friends and once again, entered that wonderful world of lunches and brunches and dinners, parties and antics, shared laughter and tears and conversations. New friends.
The language of friendship is not words but meanings. ~Henry David Thoreau
And because life events are cyclical, some of these new friends moved away. Not so far away, but out of Toronto and far enough away to need detailed planning in order to visit.
It is what it is. Addresses change. Some people come into your life, morph into friends and leave after a while, marking you in some indelible way. Others walk in, become friends immediately and never leave no matter how near or far they are; whether their voice is by email, by phone or by thought forms in your head.
And so it goes. Always. Some friends will ride off into the sunset; some walk with you no matter where they are in the world for there is no time or space or distance between you and the love is constant and warm; and new friends will jump through that portal between worlds right into your life, into your heart and share that relationship and adventure known as friendship.
“True friendship is never serene.”
– Marquise de Sevigne