Stand by me

I read an article in the Oct. 22 Newsweek about how hard it is for 20somethings to find friends who will last through thick and thin.  I keep thinking about the article, by a mother-daughter team, Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig, which says social media makes it harder for young people to form intimate relationships.

I’m sure that’s true. But what has stuck in my mind is the premise that lasting friendships are formed in your 20s. “The friends we make in our 20s are not only BFFs; they’re also our first truly chosen friends, people we discover as a result of our adult decisions – where to live, work, or study – as opposed to our parents’ choices,” the article says.

Most lasting friendships are the ones you make between 22 and 28, according to research cited in the article.

What’s struck me about all this is how it’s so not the case for me. The major lasting friendships of my life were made at almost 3 (Kelly) almost 11 (Pam), 15 (Anita).

Just before my 13th birthday and just after Pam’s we lived at the Indian Hills pool.

At just turned and almost 15, we were a little surlier about having our picture taken on Pam’s parents’ boat.

Granted, I was married young to a man who a. wanted to keep me socially isolated and b. succeeded by being so unpredictable that no one wanted to be around him. (I wrote about that in an earlier post, American Girl.) My sister – and Pam, after she moved back to town – were the only people I could really count on to stand by me in my 20s. Kelly had moved to Northwest Arkansas and was long-distance by then.

My two good friends I made in my 20s both dumped me – one because I remind her of a time in her life she’d rather not remember and the other because she decided to change her lifestyle and I no longer fit in. Both stung, but I understand.

By my 30s I was working and no longer isolated, and as I was turning 33 I met Rhonda, who was turning 30. She’s been around through thick and thin since the day we became friends (which was not the day we met, but soon after).

In our later 30s, Anita and I joyfully reconnected – she’d moved back to Arkansas after her divorce – and we celebrated my 40th birthday together as I was moving toward a divorce.

Then in my 40s I met Jan, Starla, Dauphne, all people I can count on and consider myself lucky to know. At 50, Susan became a stalwart of my life, and just recently, Julia and I re-met – we know we had to have met in a previous life or have some kind of tie, because the connection was instant. We’ve led very different yet bizarrely parallel lives in many ways.

Pam and I were just talking today about how that article and how “universal” truths are sometimes not so universal, no matter what research shows. She’d popped in for lunch since she was in from Heber Springs for a yoga workshop.

We can do that popping in and out thing without a hitch, though we never learned to do it like Samantha or Jeanie – but not for lack of trying.

Part of the reason Pam, Anita, Rhonda and I differ from the study is the southern gothic lives we’ve lived, I’m sure. None of us took the “go off to college at 18 and make lasting friendships” route. We all did life the hard way for years.

For Pam and me part of the reason is because we grew up on Blackhawk Road in the wonder years and those friendships never die.

Yes, Pam, I know. I still need to write that book.

My iPhone thought Pam and I needed the soft-lens/cheesecloth effect at 57 …

… but we thought we’d do a “photo-booth close-up” reprise, all noses and teeth like in the old days downtown. We don’t care – we’re just happy to be here and to be together.

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4 thoughts on “Stand by me

  1. Love this! I still have good friends from every decade, starting with the “10s” and continuing to the present. Glad you’re one of them!

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