Friendship As We Age

As we grow older, many aspects of our lives change. We start to dress a little different, sleep patterns vary, and joints to start to make weird noises. One thing that I recently realized that also changes, is the types of friends you have compared to your age. Of course, certain friends, you have no matter what stage of life you’re in. But, if you really sit back and think about it, you can see a trail of friends that you only associated with, because of your phase in life at that time.

Your first friends are just about having someone to play with that you don’t hate. Pre-school kids aren’t very picky and decently tolerant. Sassy’s “best friend” changes daily, based on mood. Her friends are probably based on who follows her orders with the most enthusiasm and skill. I only have a couple of people I have remained friends with after this stage. We just don’t have standards as toddlers. Otherwise, I would have never hung out with the weird kid that glued a crayon inside his mouth. Yes, that really happened in my kindergarten class.

In middle school, your friends like the same people you do, are involved in the same activities, share the same classes. Your mortal enemy is anyone that has a crush on the same person as you. You can’t drive, still have to ask permission, and cooties are just now becoming a thing of the past. Middle school is where you start figuring out what it really means to be and have a friend.

As a teenager, you want your friends to be as excited to get out and see the world as you are. You want friends that are always wanting to go out and do something, meet new people, have an adventure. You also look for friends with similar curfews as you. Friends as a teenager are all about whoever you can have the most fun with, and not much else. It is highly unlikely you will remain friends with the guy who bought everyone beer, or the girl that lets you use her fake I.D., but you never know.

Once you enter your early twenties, it’s time to find your bar friends. You want the friends that you can go out and have a great time with. The friends that are “fun” drunk. Life, at this point, is all about being legal to drink and going to all of the places that involves. It’s also important to have at least one friend that is the nurturer. The one that takes of all the drunks and treats your hangover. This may be your most valuable friend at this stage in life. In my group of friends, I was the hangover fairy. I would leave bottled water, crackers, and B12 for everyone. This is also where you befriend some of your most questionable acquaintances like…

  • The guy who let random people tattoo him.
  • The girl who cried. EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.
  • The guy that only spoke in Greek when he drinks.
  • The guy that thought it was funny to pop out his fake teeth when you weren’t looking.
  • The guy that made a party trick out of his scrotum.

Your mid to late twenties, you start looking for friends that want to “go out” a similar amount to you. The new has worn off of being legal and getting older and  having a full-time job doesn’t mix as well with hangover as it used to. This stage is do or die for several friendships that survived the bar phase. Some friendships were born simply out of love for the same tequila, take that away and there’s not much else to talk about. This is the time you also start learning excuses as to why you can’t go out, that doesn’t involve the truth. The true excuse is being too comfortable to change out of your pajamas at 8 pm. Plus it’s not the day I wash my hair, rain check?

Sometime between our barfly days and our “somewhat” mature responsible adult days, something happens. We start to figure out who we really are. What we like as individuals, not as someone trying to fit in a group. You start to care less about fitting in, and more about loving yourself. That is the moment where lifelong friendships transform into being solid as a rock, and the convenient ones flicker out.

In your 30’s, and a parent, you want other parent friends. Parents have less than no time to go out. I’m canceling plans I haven’t even made yet, because I already know I’m going to be too tired. This is also the time in life when you’re starting to understand that there is a sudden realization of aging in your 30’s. All of these weird things like joint pain, fatigue, and adult responsibility. If anyone can honestly tell me they can still go out and drink all night like they did in their 20’s, they are either a dirty liar or Keith Richards. My friends now, are the people who I can have a fun dinner with, or enjoy hanging out at their house, because I don’t want to deal with the general public. I want tired, yet fun and entertaining friends now.

I’m not sure what sort of friends I’ll be looking for in my late 30’s or beyond, but I’m pretty certain the last level of friendship will be the best. What do I think the last level is? Matching old lady track suits and fanny-packs, and it’s going to be fantastic.

Hometown Tragedy

Bad things aren’t supposed to happen in quiet, picturesque, sleepy little towns. They just aren’t. This morning, the sleepy little town I grew up in was rocked by an absolutely disturbing tragedy. Hokes Bluff, my own personal Mayberry, was the macabre headline of the day.

You hear about murder/suicide on the news, in books, on TV. You never expect it to involve people you know. You never expect it to happen in the idealistic town you grew up in, but it does. It did.

It’s the kind of news that rattles you whether you were close to them, knew them a little, or just shared a town. How could something so awful like this happen in a town where nothing ever happens? How could this happen anywhere? Weren’t their warning signs? Couldn’t something have been done?

So why do we keep hearing about more and more terribly tragic things that humans are capable of? Maybe it’s the downfall of humanity. Maybe it’s a heart problem. Maybe it’s because we are a selfish society. Whatever the reason, the fact is, it needs to change.

People don’t speak up anymore. Let me clarify, if you don’t feed your child organic only food, someone will speak up about what a terrible parent you are, or if you wear leggings as actual pants, someone is going to have something to say about that too. I’m noticing though, when it’s a truly important issue that needs to be addressed, suddenly it’s just crickets….

We have become way too involved in the most ridiculous topics that have no real relevance, and have lost the will to stand up for the truly important causes. We get so caught up in our day-to-day that we don’t even notice someone sitting silently, in obvious pain, in need of someone to talk to.

Can you imagine how very different the world might be, if we stopped being a self involved society and started worrying about the people around us like we worry about ourselves?

RIGHT!

I’m not saying this could have, or would have stopped anything that happened, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt the situation. Next time you see someone act out in rage, or sit still in silence, consider lending them your shoulder to lean on or your ear to vent to. You might be the one thing they need.

You could be the grace someone desperately needs.