Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Help Making Friends

What is the foundation of friendship?

I've been pondering this idea lately as I watch my children make new friends and cast old ones aside, and as my own friendships with other adults wax and wane.

My children are friends with the kids who share their assigned seats on the bus, with whomever sits near their desk in the classroom or next to them at lunch. Friendship is about proximity and a bit about shared interests.

Since I don't live near any of my friends from high school or college, maintaining those friendships has been a challenge. Phone calls, texts, emails and infrequent visits are our sole means of keeping tabs with each other, supporting one another, sharing the laughs and the tears - the things that friends do with each other. I've gained some new friends through business networking and neighborhood social events.

At least, I think I have friends.  I participated in a research study last month and the questionnaire asked, "If you wanted to take a day trip tomorrow, do you have someone in your life who would go with you?" and "If you wanted to go out this evening, is there someone you could ask this afternoon to join you?"

To me, friendship begins when you find someone who shares your interests and ideas, and you have a vibe that both of you could stand being in each other's company for more than ten minutes. So you agree to test that vibe, and spend time together. You enjoy each other's company and begin to care about the other person's ideas. And then finally, a real friendship blooms when you trust each other enough to share your dreams with that friend, your really innermost important dreams, and they care enough to help you make those dreams real.

I've never gone on a "girlfriends getaway." No one's ever invited me, and I've never planned one. I don't go out with a bunch of girlfriends every month or so. I don't know, I'm not sure, that if I tried to plan one, who would rearrange the endless daily demands of their lives to go out and just spend time together. That is a big thing to ask. I'm tired at the end of the day, it's gotta be something pretty special to get me back out the door.

Have I put in the time to make any of these friendships that special? Someone on Twitter read my mind and shared this quote from Georgia O'Keefe: "To see a flower takes time, like to have a friend takes time."

Once, a friend of mine (who I don't get to see anymore) told me, "I met a lady, she seemed like the kind of person I would love to be friends with, but I had to tell her, my life is so full right now, I don't have time to make another friend. I would let you down if I tried to be your friend."

If you can't make time for someone, and they can't make time for you, are you still friends?