There was a time in my life when I was swimming in friends. Don’t get me wrong, I was never what you’d call “popular,” but once upon a time, it wouldn’t have been strange to find a group of a dozen or so of us sprawled out in someone’s living room. We were loud and effervescent, wild and impulsive, giddy and hopeful.
Finding someone to hang out with was as simple as calling down the hall or hopping on our bike or in a cab. Watcha doing?, someone would ask. Nothing was nearly always the reply.
These days that question would be met with a literal laundry list of chores and responsibilities. The idea that we would have “nothing” to do is damn near laughable in its absurdity.
Spontaneity? What’s that?
Getting together requires days, weeks or even months of planning. And even then it feels chaotic and a little guilt-ridden, like we’re shirking some responsibility or inconveniencing someone because we dare to sneak away for some (much needed) time with friends.
These days, friendship is quieter. Softer. Deeper.
And in some ways, it’s hard.
When we’re younger, friendship is 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 those days. I miss the way conversations could stretch lazily for hours because we had nowhere to go and nothing to do. I miss the way we borrowed shoes and makeup and bras without a second thought. I miss standing dates to watch 90210. I miss the ease of friendship back then.
Now that our lives are bigger and fuller, with partners and kids relying on us, friendship sometimes falls to the back burner. It feels harder to maintain. Because those last minute wine nights aren’t so easy when you’ve got dinner burning on the stove, 3rd grade math homework to contend with, and a 5 a.m. wake-up call the next morning.
So our friend group shrinks a bit. Because it has to.
And it changes because we change. We grow up. We grow into ourselves. Life hands us a shit ton of lemons and we make the best lemonade (or vodka lemon drops, depending on your preference) we can. But in the process we become different people. Our priorities change. We realize that the person we were back then isn’t the person we really are, or the person we want to be.
Our tolerance for bullshit gets lower and lower, and realize that we’ve got no room for fake friends. We want the real deal or nothing at all.
Sometimes that can feel lonely, especially when those real deal friends aren’t across the hall (or even across town) anymore.
But you know what?
I don’t want buckets of half-ass friends.
I want friends who I can cry with and share my big fears and wild dreams and they won’t tell me I’m being “ridiculous.”
I want friends who know why I need to bail from the party before 10 p.m. and won’t give me shit about it.
I want friends who remember who I was back then, but know who I really am now.
I want friends who I can be real and raw with, who won’t get uncomfortable and turn away when things get kinda awkward or ugly.
I want people in my life who notice when I go silent for a while because life gets overwhelming and confusing and I’m too exhausted to explain how I’m too exhausted.
I want friends who know that Peanut Butter (not caramel, peanut butter) Twix bars make everything a little bit better.
I want friends who will invite me (and my loud-ass kids) over for pizza when my husband is out of town.
I want friends who will ask how are REALLY doing? — and who will stare me down when I say “fine” because we all know things are never just “fine” and then they’ll patiently listen to my answer before telling my how they are really doing without once saying “fine.”
I want people who I can laugh until I cry with, and cry until I laugh with. People who I can talk to about the shitstorm that is raising tweens and teens. People who I will understand when I tell them, “I cried in my car in the driveway today” and nod because they probably cried in the bathroom or on the commute home from work.
I want friends I can call to pick up my kids from basketball practice when I’m running late, friends who will ask me to feed their fish while they’re out of town.
I want friends who will send me chocolates after my dog dies. Friends who can call me from the doctor’s office after they get bad news about a lump they found. Friends who I can share a plate of nachos with while we talk about absolutely nothing at all.
I want people who are honest enough to talk me out of doing stupid shit that I’ll regret, and brave enough to ride along on the wild adventures I might regret if I don’t do.
I want friends who are real and true and actually give a damn about what happens to me because they know that I am real and true and absolutely give a damn about what happens to them.
I don’t want buckets of lukewarm, half-ass or fake friends.
I want the real deal.
Nothing more, nothing less.