The Evolution of Friendship
In 5th grade our teacher tasked us with an in class assignment. Whom do you admire and why?
My first thought was my Mom. She was and still is the best mom and friend a girl could ask for. However instead of writing an essay about my mom I looked to the girl seated next to me and asked who she was writing about.
“Madonna! Of course!” stated the popular girl wearing head to toe Esprit, oversized plastic hoops, and three layers of color coordinating socks.
Instantly I was insecure about my choice. Perhaps Mom was the wrong role model.
I replied, “Oh cool, I’m writing about Cindi Lauper.” Esprit girl nodded in approval and smiled at me.
The problem was I didn’t know anything about Cindi Lauper. I knew “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and I had definitely belted out an impressive version of “Time after Time” in the shower on numerous occasions. The front of my cassette tape indicated Cindi liked crazy hair and lots of bracelets. She wore neon colors and her MTV videos were cool. Other than that I knew NOTHING.
Luckily I have always had a ferocious imagination and managed to write an entire essay expressing my devotion to a complete stranger. I received an A. I still remember the sick feeling in my stomach when my Mom saw the title of the essay and then the reaction of my subject.
5th grade is my first memory of choosing friends over family.
Looking back I can remember disappointing my parents with my consistent worship of school girls. I would fight to spend time with them, sneak out at night, and put virtually all loyalty aside to be accepted. I consistently made poor choices and changed who I was to be accepted and part of a group.
Fast forward to my early 20’s and I began flourishing at making girlfriends. We had a BLAST. I had lots of best friends and I loved them dearly. I picked them for holiday getaways, nightly phone calls, and even developed an official (almost famous) group people called a Blonde Coven. Luckily I could always dump my pesky responsibilities on my parents so I could devote more time to “my girls”.
By my mid-twenties I thought of myself as the life of the party circuit. I had scored an amazing job working for Budweiser and they paid me to make friends and buy cocktails. My expense allotment had no ceiling. I could spend 10,000 dollars in one evening and would be given a pat on the back for doing a great job. Can you imagine how many friends I made with an unlimited bar budget? People followed me everywhere. I always had tons of girlfriends wanting to hang out with me and everyone was so accommodating!
During the peak of my social career I stumbled. Literally. I was dressed as Rainbow Brite for Halloween and had found fabulous stripper height rainbow shoes. With my entourage behind me I managed to crack the heel and fall face first into the gutter. Luckily my “friends” picked me up and graciously offered to carry me to the cash only venue boasting the best Halloween Party of the year. I felt so lucky to have such amazing people supporting me. It never occurred to me the 5,000 dollars in my purse and pre-paid VIP area could have been the motivator.
The next day my ankle was blue and I could barely walk. I grudgingly went to the doctor who immediately told me it was broken. I was given a cast and strict orders: Stay off your ankle for 8 weeks.
After one week of replying to texts and phone calls with, “I broke my ankle and can’t go out” my phone fell silent. Really silent. Some days it never rang or pinged an incoming text. Most of my friends disappeared. My own roommate (who loved the perks of my job) became annoyed with me and started leaving things in the way so I couldn’t get down the stairs or in the kitchen. It was horrible but enlightening. I didn’t get angry with the people who left me. I have never been good with grudges and my anger dissolves quickly. However I did learn the lesson of true friendship.
Shortly after my realization I met Mike. He became my best friend and the center of my universe. I left my job and moved on to a better position albeit less money to spend in bars. The pseudo friends I had disappeared into the beach bar scene and probably attached themselves to the next alcohol funded wallet. When Mike and I married my mother was my Maid of Honor. Two of my three bridesmaids were from my childhood. Our wedding was small, only 49 guests. I had learned my lesson and although I had groups of friends I knew how fleeting it could be.
I became a bit more cautious with making friends. I had girlfriends but began focusing my energy on starting a family and spending time with my core group.
Over the past eight years my social circle has been quietly rebuilding. I have a few small circles of friends encompassing every facet of my life. It isn’t flashy. I don’t talk to most of my friends daily. Some I speak with weekly-some even monthly and everyone seems fine with this. I used to pride myself on being the leader or social chair of all of my girlfriend groups. Now I am thrilled if someone can squeeze in a coffee date. Priorities change.
Last Sunday I wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t sleep most of the night and knew something was wrong but couldn’t decide if it was the flu or just a bad case of cramping. It continued through Monday and at my mom’s urging (It might be Endometriosis! It runs in the family!) I made a doctor’s appointment for Tuesday morning. My doctor took one look and said my abdomen was swollen and I needed to go to ER. I thought she was crazy and drove home first. After all I had the girls’ car seats, needed my work laptop, and should probably pack a lunch. By the time I got to ER I was annoyed and embarrassed. After all who shows up to ER with their laptop, a packed lunch, and Starbucks? Granted I didn’t feel like eating or drinking but I certainly wasn’t on my death bed! After hours of waiting I was ushered into a room, given a CAT scan and told my appendix needed to come out. Immediately. I was in shock. Mike was home with the girls and we both assumed I would be coming home. I was hooked up to an IV and a few hours later was wheeled into surgery.
Aside from Mike and my parents only two people knew. My lovely Hannah (who is almost 9 months pregnant) and my bestie Molly who I had been chatting with earlier in the day. Hannah wanted to come to the hospital and kept texting me. Molly wanted to pick up my children. I kept telling them no and they bugged me all night. I didn’t need their help but their insistence tickled me. I kept imagining my hugely pregnant Hannah pacing away in ER grossed out by all the nasty sick people and demanding to know what was going on. Meanwhile Molly and her husband Scott would be wrangling our children in their fabulous penthouse apartment. My kids would definitely be negotiating ice cream and all night snuggles with them and their doodle Sandy.
After the surgery I recouped and then Mike brought me home. My friends heard the news either through me or a mutual friend. My phone began ringing and my text message pinging. Friends called to check in but also asking if they could take our girls on play dates. Friends offered to drive them to school. Friends wanted to know what they could do! Dinner gift cards arrived. Flowers. Desserts. I was loving the post-surgery weight loss but luckily my friends felt I needed to fatten up by sending sugar cookies, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, etc. My FRIENDS are still checking in to see what they can do. My group of friends range from single mid-twenties bikini models to experienced mothers of 5. Everyone has contacted me to see what they can do. Over the past year I have made friends with a few phenomenal women in our neighborhood. These women immediately jumped in to help with my children and offer their support.
What a difference.
I have never felt more blessed than the circle of people I know now. The friends I have made over the past few years have encouraged me. My best girlfriend Eva had always been suspicious of new girlfriends. Looking back she was probably right. She never liked a large group and told me not to trust others. I didn’t listen and was often burned. She still loves me and sent me cookies thank goodness 😉 Lately she has found a group of girlfriends who cherish her. We don’t live near one another so our journey is an individual experience.
Adult Friendships are AWESOME!!!
Holy moly this is what all knowing adults talked about! I have friends who want to hang out with me without alcohol or my expense account. I have friends who offer to help with my children, my health, and my mind. For the first time I have friends who help me more than I help them! To be honest I don’t know what to do. I am not accustomed to people giving without any type of expectation of reciprocation.
For those of my friends who read my blog, thank you for everything you do. I feel so blessed to have a support system in my life and know I am beyond lucky.
While writing this our two year old has been organizing plastic cups. Every few moments she says, “LOOK MOMMA” seeking my approval. It is adorable and I cherish the short amount of time we have while our girls care most about our opinion not their peers. My hope is we can try to impress the importance of family and character on them during the impressionable years. I know people will hurt them and it tears me up to know it is inevitable. However I am filled with happiness knowing if they put forth their best there will be a day real friends will be there.
Happy Friday! xo Mari