That tiny little thing called ‘friendship’

    Women friends.

    I write about them because they are what I know, and they are what I am: a woman. (I try and pretend to understand guys and their friends – and fail miserably. Sigh.)

Mary Gonzalez's Facebook profile

    As I have written before, my mother raised me with the clear-cut idea that I was “born alone…will die alone.” This was told to me in a moment of absolute fright and hurt; amidst screaming and things flying at us by way of the man who had once promised to love, honor and cherish her. Her reasoning behind that hard statement came from a place of pain and hurt.

    I understand what she meant as I grew older, and saw the type of family she had grown with. She had no friends, had no time to cultivate them beyond her girlhood. She had a family that did not give her the support that she needed in times when she most would have benefited, and at her deathbed, they simply showed up to scrutinize and pass comments.

    No. My mother would not know about the absolute beauty of friendship. The acceptance, the joy it brought – the way it evolves across the years if maintained.

    Most of all, I wish she had known that had she only reached out, she would have found at least one person who has always been there, and would have been willing to listen, regardless of the years that had passed between them.

    So, with the belief that yes, I was born alone and will die alone, I have added to that statement the middle: in the meantime, I will have strong friendships to hold me together, until I die alone. (I really would not want to die off with them all at once…that wouldn’t be very nice anyway…teehee).

    Over the most recent years, when I have finally taken off the last vestiges of narcissism that comes naturally within a certain age, I can accept that there are people out there who are meant to be a part of your life. They are meant to enrich, support, help guide, and when all else fails, they are meant to help you drink out every last drop of wine (or whatever drink of choice there is), until it is all better. They are meant to help you eat that chocolate cake, because if you sat and ate it alone – well, that would be bad for the diet.

    All clichés aside, I have come to realize I am surrounded by some pretty fierce women. I have the coolest chicks surrounding me, making life interesting, colorful, alive.

    They have taught me to listen, by listening to me without interruption.

    They have taught me to feel, by being open with their feelings, sharing their struggles and hardships.

    They have taught me to laugh – to laugh so hard we snort, cry, fall over, or all of the above.

    They have picked me up when I’ve felt I’m in pieces.

    They are all so different, and thread a variety of colors into my life, making it brilliant and interesting. The only reason I get bored is because I don’t reach out to them.

    Recently, I spent a few precious moments with one of my first real female friends. Now to make clear – we have a habit of calling people our friends without ever securing a foundation on which to base friendship on. Those who should technically be acquaintances are often lumped into the friendship column. But friendships take time – like anything you want to grow, must be nurtured and helped along. So my real friends, they are few and far in between.

    And this friend, well, she is the real deal. After the many years, miles, fights and hurts, I know that much to be true.

    She is someone I met at a junction of my life, when I was just testing out life without tethers. In a world where I was alone, and flitted from ‘friend’ to ‘friend’, she just solidly was there. I met her, we smiled and talked, but I never believed it would go beyond the usual casual hello and goodbye. But somehow, we (or more fairly, she) persevered, and even though we had our “tons of friends” to hang out with, she remained solid and in time, I found myself gravitating towards her more and more, until we were basically inseparable.

    It’s really hard to describe how our 1 year + friendship brought us so close, but I can try.

    College was a classic tale of being broke, young, in and out of ‘love’, and somehow, in between, studying to scrape a pass. The broke part was for sure a big part of our life.

    While we were reminiscing over margaritas upon our reunion, we marveled at the fact that we could potentially spend a (former) week’s worth of rent on a meal this time around, when we clearly remembered shaking out every item of clothing, flipping mattresses over and scouring every corner to get as much small change as we could to put together a measly two dollars. That was enough to buy us a brown paper bag of greasy fried chicken –two pieces of meat, tossed with limp fries. This always happened the night before my father made a deposit for my other month of survival.

    But oh!! How we enjoyed our greasy fried chicken together, sharing one tiny bag of meat bits, going to bed feeling slightly less hungry, and excited to go to the bank and withdraw enough to prepare a feast for the next day.

    We laugh now, but the years before – oh the hardships! We remembered having to sneak her into my apartment for weeks, until we were caught and I was evicted – all because school and housing was unaffordable. When I was unceremoniously dumped by my much younger boyfriend, I hid the truth out of embarrassment, but she was there when I broke down halfway between C++ programming and MS Visual Basic class (damn you younger man!).

    Walking her to her first day of work, and having to return to pack my things before moving back home to start my own job hunt, I felt as though, perhaps, this was the end of our journey together.

    Thankfully it wasn’t.

    And so on our long-overdue reunion, we sat there drinking our margaritas, and suddenly we were overcome with sheer gratitude to have had each other then, and to remain friends now. Her life with a daughter who embodies everything I am (I say that shamelessly – haha) – and the opposite of what she ever was, is exciting and successful. I have found joy in what I do for fun – writing - and together, we somehow have become inseparable. Conversation can pick up wherever it left off – despite the time elapsed.

    I am grateful to have someone with whom I can relate. I have someone who challenges me to better myself, for myself and no-one else. She knows what I am made of, and believes so much in me – and I believe in her. It is not just about me.

    For those remaining years before the inevitable moment when I die alone, I have someone who will enrich my time. Along with the handful of other real friends, I live a rich life.

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