Over the Valentine’s weekend we had friends come spend five days with us. Our first visitors since we moved into our house a little under two months ago. As tradition goes, our first guests were our very good friends, Sabine and Claude.
We met Sabine and Claude three years ago in Brazil. I remember the first time we all met – it was at their home in Penedo, a party for Claude’s birthday. We ran into Sabine and Claude a second time at a concert at a local jazz bar. Still barely acquaintances, Sabine phoned me so that we could get together over lunch. It was right before the Christmas holiday, a few days before she’d be leaving for France, and as we departed she told me her good news that she was pregnant. Later, while Guillaume and I were in the USA for the holidays I found out that I too was expecting and emailed Sabine. We would later discover that we had much in common besides our growing bellies.
Over the three plus years that we’ve been friends, Sabine and Claude have become family. We share common interests, hobbies, priorities, our kids are the same age, our families have traveled to three different countries together – we may not always agree but we do always get along!
I can count on both hands the number of good, true friends I have. The real ones who stick around over the years and accept you for your worst and best. For me, they are the additional siblings I never had.
Edna Buchanan once said, “friends are the family we choose for ourselves”. I’ve been thinking about my ‘family’ of friends and the choices I’ve made in selecting this ‘family’ which has led me to reflect on the qualities and charcteristics we seek in our friends and the relationships that are born. I’ve come up with five types of friends each one of us should have.
THE UPLIFTER : This friend’s magic word is “yes!”. She’ll support your new fangled endeavors and enthusiastically cheer you on despite your project’s lack of reason and/ or logic. If you’re feeling down, your knees are knocking, or your voice is quivering she’s also there to remind you of how great the world became when you entered it.
THE TRAVEL BUDDY : When the car rental reservation falls through, or the flight is delayed a whole day, one quality comes to mind – flexibility. This friend won’t mind visiting sights from dawn till dusk one day and then sleeping in and ‘throwing” the next day away. She’ll even make a game of finding a new route to take when the road is blocked, and won’t mind sharing her underwear when it is discovered that one of your suitcases is on the other side of the planet.
THE TRUTH TELLER : There is a difference between constructive criticism and insults, it’s called ‘intentions’. When we know that love is behind the remarks and not jealousy or malice, this friend’s point of view is one we seek.
THE FRIEND WHO JUST WANTS TO HAVE FUN : Spontaneity is the key word here. Dancing all night or spending all day in PJ’s, last minute planning, or no planning at all makes for impulsive, unscripted good fun!
THE UNLIKELY FRIEND : Anais Nin wrote, “each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive”. My friends – some twice my age, others half, some Caucasian like me, others Japanese, Lebanese, South American, some Protestant, some Muslim, some homosexuals – have enriched my life, and enhanced my being in a way that only variety can bring. It is through these friends that I have become more empathetic and less judgemental. Plus, it never hurts to be aware of cultural faux pas, like never sticking your chopsticks upright in your bowl of rice in Japan. (A gesture that mimics a Japanese funeral rite, when chopsticks and rice are left by the bedside of the newly deceased.)
We seek friends for who we become when we are in their presence. It takes two to make any relationship work. It is an exchange of interests and understanding. I have different friends that I depend on for different reasons. I consider myself fortunate to have people in my life that I call friends. People who have become extended family. People whose characters hold true to these qualities. People who call me instead of expecting or waiting for me to phone them. People who, unlike family, have made the choice to be in a relationship with you. Thank you to my friends and their faithful unfaltering friendships.