Mushy Post about Friendship

Yesterday two of my neighbors came over for a pre-surgery tea party. We had a really nice time.

I’ve been thinking about friendship a lot since I moved to Monte Vista where I did not know anyone. It’s kind of a “different” thing to do (as I was told repeatedly). I did it knowing that if I never met anyone I’d still be OK. I’m nothing if not internally resourceful. But I did meet people — quite a few and most of them I like.

Friendship changes throughout our lives, I think. I remember as a kid wanting playmates, mostly, and that one BEST friend. Both of those things were hard for me to make. First, I was a little kid. Second, I was very sensitive and, since I was a little kid, I didn’t know that other people might be just as sensitive — or more! — than I was. I didn’t know then that people react differently to things than I might. It’s not that little kids think they’re the center of the universe. They’re figuring out who THEY are through the ecolocation of childhood. It’s pretty hard to figure out who OTHER people are when you don’t know who YOU are. I had a friend who sulked when she was mad. I didn’t understand that at ALL. I lived in a family where you threw tantrums and got it off your chest. I was always trying to go to Debbie to get her to talk to me. I always felt her silence was forever. My mom said, over and over, “Just leave her alone. She has to sulk. She’ll come back.”

Mom, of course, was right.

I discovered playmates through team sports (baseball, softball, kick ball, kill the man with the ball) and I found a best friend (finally!) in sixth grade. I looked her up a few years ago and we still like each other.

In high school I remember wanting a (male) soulmate (was I really thinking of my “soul”?) and girl friends to do stuff with. It was important that weΒ UNDERSTAND each other in some ineffably deep way. In adolescence we don’t understands ourselves very well. Maybe that’s why we seek understanding from others. Any little bit of help, right?

In my working years, friendship was often transactional and transitory. It depended on the people with whom I worked, but I did, in my 20s, discover the second best friend of my life.

An we still like each other.

All this to say at this point in my life my understanding of friendship is completely different. By now I’ve known tens of thousands of people (many of whom wandered in and out of my classrooms). Friendship now is not about all the things we have in common, or shared memories, shared goals, as much as it’s about the actual PERSON inside the physical carapace. All of our lives are so different from each other, our experiences, our responses and reactions to those experiences, the disappointments we’ve had, the hopes we still hold, our responses to any given moment, that once you know who you are, you don’t expect to have all that much ‘in common’ with others. I know I am like an iceberg in the Atlantic — there’s a bit up on the surface, but most of it is below) and everyone else is an iceberg, too.

It takes a lifetime to learn who we are, I think, or maybe I’m just a slow learner.

Listening to my friends talking yesterday (I mostly listened) I thought about all this. I don’t have a lot in common (superficially) with my friends in Monte Vista, but on other levels that don’t come into the conversation over a pretty table with cookies on it, I do. The biggest thing is we are all survivors and we want to share the good we have with others. I think it’s one of the perks of being old(er).


As the party was breaking up, they asked, “When exactly is your surgery?” We knew why we were all there. I wanted to spend time with them before I go up for my “procedure.” Why? Because once in a while, people die in surgery. I know it, they know it. We know people who have died that way. You don’t talk about it, it’s nothing to be spoken of (though I am) but it’s there. You also don’t talk about being afraid, but you (and your friends) know you are afraid. I told them all the basic information when they asked, and the subject went back to dogs or something else.

There are the rare friends who know your heart, though. And I’ve been amazed — blessed — in my little town to have found that.

24 thoughts on “Mushy Post about Friendship

    • My pleasure, Denny. I’m very fortunate in the random dot on the map where I decided to retire. It was random, but from the very first night I spent in my house it’s been Heaven. ❀

  1. I think most friends these days are more acquaintances than the kind of friends we had as kids — and they move in and out of our lives throughout! Love the quilt — did you make it?

    • I got the quilt at a thrift store, but it’s perfect for this wall and this house. I don’t know — my friends now are less mere acquaintances than at any time in my life. Maybe it’s because of where I am physically — but also mentally and emotionally. I’m here in this house in this small town for the duration and the people around me are too. We’re kind of stuck both here and with each other. πŸ™‚

  2. In case I don’t get around to it, or forget (of course I will not forget, but we golden oldies do have our problems) I wish you all the best for your surgery, and I am sure you will soon be up and running again.

  3. omg, I used to have that exact table cloth. You are indeed blessed, Martha. I think you understand yourself quite well, probably always have, because sensitive people tend to look inward more than outward and have a sense of who and what they are and what they can handle and who they can’t. Not to say mistakes aren’t made when the heart leads the head, but yes I agree, older is wiser, we’ve seen more experienced more done more.

    • That tablecloth was my mom’s. When I was LITTLE and my friends were mean to me, she set up a playhouse in the garage while I took a nap. She put that tablecloth on my little kid folding table and set up a tea party for me with my dolls. I didn’t think of that until last night but now it’s seen a REAL tea party! πŸ™‚

  4. Good luck to you, Martha. Parker and I will be thinking about and sending good thoughts. Friendships like this in your post are the best–a very comfortable fit. What more could you want?

  5. Will be thinking of you over the weekend and on Monday — anxious to hear that everything went well and you’ll soon be walking more comfortably! Hugs!

  6. We all hope to survive and thrive and thus I wish for you.

    I still find that friends are based on either common experiences or some (often unspoken) agreement about things we feel are important. And sometimes, a shared love for something other people don’t love the way we do. To us, if not to the rest of the world.

  7. Your friends sound like good, kind people, Martha. You have a good heart, in more ways than one. Hopefully that will get you through the “procedure”. All the very best for your surgery on Monday. We will all be waiting anxiously for news.

    • Thank you. I’ll let everyone know as soon as I am able.

      My friends are wonderful. We wouldn’t probably even know each other if we lived in a big city. We’d be big-city segregated. It’s kind of a cool paradox how a small town opens a wider world in a way. When three of us go out and have “adventures” it’s the most fun. And, last year my Aussie friend made a book to show her family in Australia what her life is like here and she inclluded photos of our escapades (hikes) πŸ˜€

  8. Good story. And yes, its interesting how age strips away some stuff that used to come between people. I find I am less inhibited, and more able to be myself in general, which increases the odds of connection (still not particularly social, doubt that will change–I appreciate your comment about being okay even if you never met anyone in Monte Vista).

    Glad you have good connections and support. I know you have a friend staying with you after surgery, and its good to have a few more folks about town who also are in the know, and may drop by for a cup of tea during your recuperation.

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