I was thinking about friends and friendships recently after I had dinner with my best friend, Abby. I realized that she is currently my only good friend, or friend in general — one that I actually meet up with and go shoe shopping or have long discussions with about life in general.
Once “real life” starts it is so hard to find new friends — everyone has jobs and families and it’s not like you can pick up a friend at a bar. Nobody has time to sit over a glass of wine and figure out the meaning of the world anymore. And suddenly the meaning of the world doesn’t even seem that important. Abby and I struggle just to understand our husbands, let alone the world!
I am not ashamed to say that Abby is my only true close friend. I feel like I can talk to her about anything and she will know exactly where I’m coming from and won’t judge me or think that I’m crazy. And she will also tell me when I really am crazy — a sign of a true friend.
At times I think that maybe it’s weird to have just one such close friend, but then I realize that she follows three other best friends in line, who have been with me during various times in life.
There was Dius — we went to elementary school together and her Mom happens to be my Mom’s best friend even today. Dius and I played “office” where we were employees of an imaginary travel agency, serving the growing demands of a certain “Mrs. Wagner,” played by my Mom. I am still in touch with Dius (she has two kids and is divorced). When I saw her last fall for the first time in about 15 years, I was still expecting to see her as a 15-year-old. It was shocking to talk to her about childbirth and divorce and dating, and not about Mrs. Wagner’s upcoming trip to Paris.
In college, there was Myt, who introduced me to bar life. We charted our lives on napkins according to the teachings of our philosophy professor. I still have the chart and, strangely, when I look at the lines leading from “Magic Fingers” (code name for a German exchange student), to Coach’s (the local college bar), to “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” (one of our philosophy professor’s many famous sayings), it all makes sense. The chart represents a great time in my life and I know that even though Myt and I live far apart and we might lose touch from time to time, I will always keep the chart and miss her.
After college I lived with Rose for a summer and she came home with me to Hungary a couple of times for Christmas and for my wedding. She wore lots of black and was mysterious and very smart and we smoked together and talked about love and life and the meaning of it all. I lost touch with her a couple of years ago and I haven’t been able to track her down. I am sometimes afraid that I’ve done something to offend her, although I can’t think of what it might be. When I’m having a bad day, I still get out the “drink alone” wine glass that she bought me for a birthday and think of her.
When I was growing up, I always thought that my Mom was a little obsessive about keeping in touch with her friends, remembering birthdays, planning special surprises for her best friend, hunting for days for the perfect gift, anticipating meeting her friends almost like it was a date. There was probably lots of eye-rolling going on from my part. Friends weren’t that crucial to me when I was 14.
But I’ve noticed that as I’ve grown older, my friendships have become just as important as they were to my Mom and suddenly I understand her efforts in maintaining these relationships. I especially noticed that when I turned 30, suddenly Dius and Myt and Rose were not just old buddies, but they were the people who were witnesses to my life and I was a witness to theirs. Even if we are not as close as we used to be, even if we don’t talk daily, even if I don’t know every intimate detail of their lives like I used to, I know that we could pick up right where we left off.
And if you would leave Abby and me alone with a bottle of wine for a long time, we might just solve the world’s problems.