Who was your first love? That boy in 5th grade who stole your heart?
Well, you may have lived that year with the sole motive of trying to catch his eye (flunked math didn’t you?), but, that wasn’t your first love.
It was the freckled girl in pigtails who spent hours hearing about your true love without once telling you that you are talking baloney (yes you were, you know it).
Endless lunch hours spent giggling because your crush looked in your direction (the fact that he was just looking for his lost pencil was not discussed); endless notes passed in class discussing his dimples, endless phone calls abusing that ‘other girl’.
Ms. Pigtails was your first love. When that crush went away with that other girl, Ms. Pigtails stayed with you.
Then of course there was that dorky friend, jokes so bad they made you want to cry, but got you through your difficult high school years. You still remember a few of those horrible jokes and giggle, don’t you? First love number two.
Along the years we all have had those friends; if you are lucky you also have one or two who end up being ‘your people’.
The ones who stalk your crushes with more enthusiasm than you, roll their eyes at the exact same time you do, treat your gossip with the same seriousness that Obama brings to world affairs, turn violently abusive towards people just because you mildly dislike them and shower you with unsolicited advice to the point that you want to scream.
Friends: they are not on our Christmas cards, not in our homes and not part of our annual vacations. No wedding bands or framed family photos to remind us of their importance.
Nonetheless, while family is integral to a happy life; these friends are integral to getting through that happy life. They are the ‘soul mates’ who make us laugh at times when we want to kill our ‘soul mate’.
Along the way we lose a few of ‘our people’. In the moments we miss them, we blame life and circumstances, or just tell ourselves that this is the natural way of life.
I wonder, what’s so natural about losing Ms. Scolds_like_mom, Mr. Eats_all_the_food, Ms. Doesn’t_shut_up and Mr. Pain_in_the_neck?
Well, I’ve also lost a lot of friends, but I’ve found a few lasting friendships too.
Here are some lessons learnt on how to keep friendships for life and beyond:
- Accept Things, Friendships Change, It’s Not the End
It’s easy to be two peas in a pod when you are in the same university, studying the same courses. Not so much when you get a job, get married, have kids. That’s OK. He will not always be available to go drinking with you like college days.
She will not always treat your boyfriend problems as the number one priority in her life.
Yes that’s upsetting. It’s even more upsetting when you feel like they have moved on. Got married while you remain a bachelor. Changed jobs while you remain in the same one.
It’s upsetting because not only do you struggle with the fact that you have drifted apart, you also get jealous of the things they have and you don’t.
How do you tell your friend that you need their attention because you are an insecure child inside?
That you are also jealous of them? Well, SAY IT. Pick up the phone, whine till they agree to meet you and then just confess that you are silly. You know what? Your friend is as silly as you.
They will complain right back to you and list down all the things that you have and they don’t. You will probably wind up in a contest that you will lose and the drinks would be on you.
- Stay a Little Possessive
Sounds very contradictory doesn’t it?
Yes OK we are adults; you can’t just go fight with her because she went shopping with some other friend.
But what if for once you did?
What if sometimes you just act like a freckled pig-tailed pigheaded little child who demands time. Who calls for an emergency drinking session because the boss has been particularly nasty that day. Who wants undivided attention while lamenting on a haircut gone wrong.
Who refuses to share that friend for a few hours – no family, no work, no nothing!
Immaturity and possessiveness don’t always kill a relationship; sometimes, in little quantities, they just make it warmer, sweeter, snugglier (No that’s not a word, what are you an English teacher?)
Your demanding to be priority number one for an evening won’t turn the world upside down.
So do it, throw a tantrum and let your friend struggle between trying to suppress their exasperated chuckles while clearing that schedule to accommodate their adult-child friend.
- Have a Common Ground
Years before you connected over a shared passion – hatred for the same teacher, love for the same girl, lack of comprehension for the same subject. As you go on your different life paths, let something hold you together.
If you are the evolved kind it would probably be a common hobby – music, travel, dance, yoga. If you are my kind it would probably be something inane and stupid – love for chocolate fudge, hate for Ms Perfect with the perfect Facebook pictures.
It doesn’t really matter, what matters is to keep it alive.
So take out time to spend a few hours bad mouthing that college batch mate who never did you any wrong and who probably doesn’t even remember your name but keeps putting amazing pictures on Facebook.
Meet on the day you are ‘officially’ on a break from dieting (as opposed to unofficially which is everyday) and make obscene sounds of ecstasy over that shared ice cream sundae.
After all, no one really understands an ice cream sundae the way our ‘also on a diet’ friends do.
- Don’t Get Caught up in ‘The Plan’
You know, the plan to meet at that chic club that has been in the making for three months. Trust me; it will be easier to make a baby than that ‘plan’. It’s not college anymore where no one has a life so everyone shows up.
Life is cluttered with a million things to do, don’t clutter it up further with elaborate plans.
Just catch up. At that little shoe-box café right outside work, at each other’s untidy homes where kids are wailing, at that particularly dull park that probably has a ghost in the tree who is also pretty bored.
Just meet wherever you can and talk and laugh. Every friendship reaches a point where sometimes the best thing to do is to just ‘be’ together.