Sex and the City was a deliciously entertaining caricature. Extreme personalities, over the top clothing (ahh, the shoes), superlative wealth, off the wall situations. The center of which was the strength of friendships among those so very different. Sure, in real life we would all love a Carrie. Quirky, earnest, kind, fun, dependable. Samantha? Not so much, I think. I sound like Charlotte, but her sexual escapades would be oddly disturbing to me. Puritanical? Not so much. The older I get, the more I value commitment and the familiar. It would be hard, I think, to relate to a Samantha at this point in my life. Miranda I would like in real life. Edgy, driven, blunt, sometimes too blunt. But loyal. Charlotte's naivete, though endearing at times, would get on my nerves. Yet, infertility gets anyone a pass in my book. Four very different friends who remained friends. But it got me thinking...
What is it about certain friendships that stand the test of time?
I've been thinking a lot about "friendships" on the eve of my 20 year high school reunion. Out of the blue, I got a call from one of my best friends from high school and, within seconds, I felt that sense of the familiar. I was talking to someone who knew me back then, the young me, with all my dreams still intact. We hadn't talked in 10 years, but it didn't seem like it. I felt that twinge of resistance when I realized that she didn't know that I had divorced and remarried and I would have to "explain." But I didn't really have to explain anything. I told her that my second marriage was with someone a good bit older than me and she said, "Well of course you married someone older. You were always an old soul. That doesn't surprise me at all." And just like that I nestled in to the comfort of the familiar, someone who knew me when.
The older I get, the more resistant I am to "new" friendships. Acquaintances and social friends I do very well. I can mingle and laugh and charm and relate, but the sharing secrets and joy and bitter disappointment friendships I'm loathe to invest in. I'm sure a good part of that comes from lack of time. I don't have lots of free time to invest in the nurturing and care of a new friendships. I have perfectly good friendships already in place, thank you very much. The bigger part is that I'm more private as an adult than I was back then. We've all been burned--sometimes scorched--by sharing too much, trusting too early. I'm much too protective of myself now to expose my pale underbelly to the world, willy nilly. But the bigger issue I think is that there's comfort in those who know your story, even if it's just a few chapters. Someone who knows you absolutely abhor the cold and get twitchy in crowds. Someone who knows you won't go near Gorgonzola.
Because friendship, like love, is a dance. Getting to know someone, finding areas of commonality, testing the waters, sharing your history, gauging if you'll be accepted or rejected, gradually sharing more, comparing core values, seeing if you fit, if it's worth the risk and the time and the commitment. It was a ten second tango in your early years. Now, at least for me, it's a long, slow waltz.