RECENTLY IN THE BACKGROUND of my mind I’ve been thinking about friendships – specific friendships of my own, as well as friendship in general – the formation of friendship, the endurance (or not) of friendship, the levels of intimacy within friendships, the challenges of friendships both old and new.
I could try and splurge my thoughts in one rambling post, but I will try, time permitting, to reflect upon my theme in instalments. Friendship as a concept these days now acquires new challenges as not only do our friendship bases widen due to travel and movement, they can also be formed and maintained by social networking.
Social networking has a different impact on friendship depending on your generation. What I mean is, for those of us who grew up prior to social networking sites, we have the somewhat odd experience of ‘getting back in touch’ with older friends, not merely as individuals but as collective. For example, I can look at my school friends and see that one group of which I was a part have largely stuck together – which unsettles me slightly when I realise that I am not one of them any more. I moved on and away and did not move back; my closest friendships were formed, generally speaking, later. There were reasons for this, health probably being a factor, as well as opportunities and common hopes, dreams, opinions.
When I moved into adulthood and encountered the scaldingly intimate friendships I made later, it seemed strange to try and find this in earlier friendships made of other stuff – different in tone, different in need. Yet I can see that those who have grown up in these friendships have also reached these levels of intimacy – which I formed with others in other places. (The challenge of course that I did not remain in these places and thus have experienced the fierce loss of no longer being a few paces away from those who changed me so utterly.)
And although there are several adages about the age of friendships being directly related to their quality, this is not always the case. There are moments when a jolt of recognition occurs between two people who have only just met, whereby the intimacy and frankness that can take years are fast forwarded. These moments are not necessarily common, but precisely because of their rarity they feel deliciously surprising when they occur – as if they are a gift of sorts.
Friendship comes in many guises.