Ya Gotta Have Friends…

“Friend – a person known well to another and regarded with liking, affection and loyalty.” – Collins English Dictionary

I had the opportunity to get together with a friend this week… I had not seen her in months as we no longer live close.. she lives out of the country during the winter months…

Karen and I have been friends for about 12 years.. and we’ve been through a lot together.. tough times, moving, fiances, weddings, divorces, falling in love, falling out of love, laughter, tears and many, many bottles of wine. We spent the evening catching up on everything that had been happening in the last several months.. and once again there was laughter, a few tears.. and of course, the ever present wine.

I’ve had many friends over the years.. check my “friends list” on Facebook.. there are 834 at the present count. These are “friends” from grade school, high school, various jobs, the music industry, and various and sundry misadventures associated with all of them. I would consider everyone on my friend list a friend of some regard.. but when FB installed the friend categories.. I was a little stumped at how to “group” people (so I have not.. ) but this combined with my Karen visit got me thinking about the various friendships I have had over the years.

My first best friend was Julie. One day I just walked into her back yard while she was having a tea party with her mom and uncle. We became fast friends at the age of three.. had our first sleepovers together… played “wedding” (I was always the groom as I had short hair and she was the girly girl..)… first day of school together. We were BFFs until grade 3.. she went to that grade.. I went directly to grade four. The social hierarchy changed.. and I was now running with a different crowd.. interestingly, Julie became BFFs with my sister.. and they are still friends.

I have always had a lot of male friends.. not as many “girl” friends. The first friends I hung out with regularly were the neighbourhood boys.. Stevie, Brian, Mario and Marky. We would play “Flintstones” and climb trees and ride bikes and do cool stuff where you got dirty. I was more of a tomboy and preferred that to playing the groom in various wedding or house scenarios. But then again.. I skipped a grade and.. got new friends.

Through grades 4-8 and into high school I pretty much hung out with the same group of girls.. Bambi, Crystal, Trish and Starr (yes, real names..) But I always had different “groups” of friends.. there were always the male friends… the groups of girls.. the kids in band and math club.. different friends for different social situations… Grades 7/8 and into high school, Lynn was one of my best buddies.. Judy and I were friends all through grade school and beyond…

In high school there was a group of 11 girls… Bambi named us “The Natural Highs”.. each one of us had a flavour name.. Vanilla, Chocolate, Butterscotch.. etc.. I was Cinnamon. We hung out, partied… had fun. But I always felt not quite comfortable with “girl” friends.. just a certain element of competition I guess.

I preferred hanging out with the boys.. Craig, Tony, Mike and Joe. Sitting in Mike’s basement listening to CFNY and “punk”.. Elton Motello, the Pistols, Jane County and the Electric Chairs.. all the interesting music Mike’s older brother turned our way.. we had a lot of fun together. Plus, Craig was my boyfriend.. so the making out factor certainly weighed into the equation.

And of course, I must mention my spare period BFF and Hallway patrol partner Steve. We’d randomly stop younger kids asking to see their hall passes (we didn’t have them at our school).. just because we were silly. Stephen and I are still friends.. which makes me very happy.

In college I was inseparable from Avril.. we did everything together. Talked, partied, school work.. you name it.. we liked to spend time with Wayne, John and Paul.. roommates who lived in her building. And of course we hung out with people in our class.. Al, Tony, John… George .. (please notice I remember all the guys and not so much the girls…) Oddly, still keep in touch with a few people from college, but most weren’t in my class. Funny that. And through the magic of Facebook have had the pleasure of catching up and reconnecting with a few.

I’ve made friends wherever I’ve gone.. some good friends, some great friends.. some for the time being and some for what seems like forever. I have people still in my life that I’ve known for 25, 30 years or more.. there has to be a reason why I think. Some connection that just never goes away. I met my friend Mark when we were dating members of the same family.. those relationships broke up.. he and I wound up working together.. and through years and distance and everything else we somehow end up still staying in touch after more than 25 years. Crazy.

I just find it interesting thinking about what makes people friends.. and what KEEPS them friends. One of my best friends ever is named Ami. She and I became friends by happenstance.. she phoned my house one night for a business reason and I answered the phone by yelling into it “TURN ON CHANNEL THREE!! RANDY BACHMAN IS ON THE SIMPSONS!!” I can’t recall if I was just excited that I knew someone on the Simpsons or if I thought she was someone else.. We quickly became fast friends.. and I was even the maid of honour at her wedding. But, with moves.. and career changes and everything that happens in life.. we’ve drifted apart. Completely my fault I believe. One of my personal goals for the not too distant future will be to reconnect with Ami. I miss her a lot. (Please note that instead of procrastinating about this, I actually found her phone number and called her .. like.. just now. I got her machine and I left her a goofy message involving me singing a song about her, eating some ribs and other nonsense. I am not right in the head. You already knew that.)

I think sometimes many friendships are based on convenience.. whether or not you see those people regularly. I know that since I moved north, there are BFFs that I don’t hear from as often. And of course since my employment situation changed there are another whole bunch that I have not been as close to. It happens. But the people I consider my true friends are the ones who make the effort to keep in touch.. to touch base.. to see how you are. Mind you, I’ve had friendships that have “gone by the wayside” because of location, distance.. what have you.. One of my best friends in my 20’s .. Mona/Lisa (depending on how you know her..) and I have always attempted to keep in touch and often go years without seeing each other.. but we somehow pick up where we left off.

“Misfortune shows those who are not really friends.” – Aristotle

It’s only in my adult life that I’ve had good “girlfriends”.. women with whom I can commisserate about men, love, children, female crap… the whole kit and caboodle..

Kelly was my first “grown up” girl friend I think.. interestingly, she was the ex girlfriend of the man I married.. she was in my wedding party.. I love her to death. She lives in Singapore now and we’ve done the “drifting apart”.. another person who I’d like to see back in my life.

Jennifer and I met many years ago .. and ended up working together years later.. and quickly became best friends. She’s a combination of friend and surrogate daughter for me.. hence my title “the new mommy”. We’ve been through ridiculous amounts of fun and pain together .. and there are more adventures on the way I’m sure.. what with me moving.. and her having a baby and all.. even though we’re in different cities at the moment we still manage to stay connected.

Carmen and I met and became instant friends.. we talk often and somehow just have that “click” .. I guess you’d call it.. just immediate camraderie. We started calling each other BFF’s immediately .. and we really are.

Cathy and I met many years ago and our paths have crossed enough times that we figured out that we are likely meant to be friends for life. We’ve been there for each other enough times to know.

Interestingly, one of my best friends is also an “ex”.. Fernando and I were together for a few years and shared a lot.. split last year and it was tough. But now we are in a place where we really are best friends. Which makes me happy that we didn’t have to cut each other out of our lives.

The person I call my “heterosexual life partner”.. is my friend Jodi.. We met through work several years ago.. and coincidentally lived in the same neighbourhood.. and again, just one of those “clicks”. We will often joke that we wish one of us was a man, or we were both gay.. because then I’m certain we’d be spending our lives together .. and hence the “heterosexual life partner”.. we spend all major holidays together and this past Christmas renamed our unusual family unit “The Warrcrookens” – a combination of both our last names.. Jodi and I have had more than our share of misadventures. I believe this weekends’ involves liquor and tattoos. No, not kidding.

And I also have a huge group of what I call “virtual friends”.. people with whom I speak with literally every day but don’t see in person.. people who probably know more about me than people who see me in person regularly.. Evan.. Irvine..Kelly…. Michelle.. my new friend Kyle.. and a few others … people who I consider to also be great friends despite distance or lack of physical contact.

I guess the common thread with any friendship is stuff in common.. I know that with all of the friendships I cherish, its likely the easy ability to laugh..and of course love.. Laughter is my favourite thing in the world.. if you can make me laugh.. we’ll get along fine..

I have a plaque on my hallway wall that reads “A friend is a gift you give yourself”. It was a gift from Ami years ago. It fell at one point and broke but I glued it together again and put it back up. and I guess I kind of think of laughter and love as the glue that will hopefully put back together some of those neglected and broken friendships.. fingers crossed.

Life: Is in flux. Glad to have so many good friends to lean on during the tough times.
Love: I believe love is friendship on fire. I read that on a travel mug or bumper sticker somewhere. Yeah, its very uh.. mushy. LOL
Pants: Pretty much all of my friends wear pants. Just an FYI.

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