Once upon a time, friendship was easy. Well, relatively speaking, of course. Sure, there were disagreements and things got messy sometimes because all relationships can be hard, but for the most part, friendship was as easy as walking home from school together or sitting next to each other in calculus class or living across the hall from each other in the college dorm.
I miss how easy friendship was back then. I miss how spending time together used to be as simple as walking across the hall or picking up the phone to say, “I’ve got wine, and I’m coming over.” I miss the way we could laugh and cry or talk about nothing for hours because we had nowhere to go and nothing to do. And even if we did, whatever it was we were doing — laughing, crying, talking — was much more important anyway.
I miss the way we could sit in silence because we had already said it all and knew everything there was to know about each other. I miss the way we could finish each other’s sentences, and how we knew each other’s bra size, favorite eye shadow, and maybe even what each other had for breakfast. I miss the way we had standing dates to watch shows like 90210 and we could count on each other to be at our favorite bar at 10:15 on a Thursday night.
These days, friendship feels so much harder. Instead of walking across the hall with a bowl of cookie dough, we need to drive for hours or hop on a plane to get together. Family responsibilities and work obligations leave us with mere minutes left in the day, and when we collapse in bed at the end of the night, we can barely muster the energy to wash off our makeup, let alone carry on a phone conversation. Before long, days and weeks have gone by where we’ve subsisted only on texts or Facebook updates, and by the time we do get together, there is so much to fill each in on that we aren’t even sure where to start.
We spend more time with acquaintances and casual friends, neighbors, and the parents of our kids’ friends. These are the easy friendships now. We chat while we endure painfully long kid-pitch baseball games, and kibitz about which teacher assigns the most homework. We get together for Friday evening happy hours in the backyard while the kids roast marshmallows and play Ghosts in the Graveyard. We share carpools and alternate hosting playdates.
These friendships are wonderful and necessary, and I am grateful for these new and easy connections that sometimes grow into true friendships. But they aren’t the same as a long heart-to-heart with Our Person. They aren’t the same as knowing what someone will say before they say it. Three hours at girls’ night is not the same as three minutes with our BFF.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and the finiteness of time is more acute than ever, or simply because my tolerance for bullshit is lower, but lately I find myself craving the real deal. I don’t want fake friends or lukewarm friendships. I want to know that I can count on you, and that you can count on me. I want to know that I can show up on your doorstep with a tear-streaked face for a hug and judgment-free bitchfest. I want to know that I can text you at 2 a.m. because I can’t sleep and need to know the name of the actress who played Baby’s sister in Dirty Dancing. I want to know that you will be real with me, and that I can be real with you, even if that means we sometimes disagree. And I want to know that those disagreements don’t really matter because we know each’s heart.
I want a handful of real, true, solid friendships — not buckets of fake friends and casual acquaintances. I want to know that we’ll be friends whether we live 10 minutes or a thousand miles away. I want to know that we’ll be friends whether it’s as simple as walking across the street or as challenging as planning a girls’ weekend together. I want friends who are there not just when it’s easy, but when it’s hard.
Especially when it’s hard.
Because true friendship isn’t about being easy; it’s about loyalty and trust and the ability to be 100% authentically who we are with each other. True friendship knows no bounds, not time or distance or differences. True friends — our OG BFFs — know us inside out. They know our past, so they better understand our present and will continue to be part of our future.
So, here’s to our true friends — the ones who go the distance. The ones who stand the test of time. The ones who are there for us through thick and thin so that even when friendship gets hard, life itself always feels a little bit easier.