Thursday, October 7, 2010

Facebook Friends, Real-Life Friends, and the Best of Friends

In my college writing class I would often have students read an essay by Judith Viorst called “Friends, Good Friends, and Such Good Friends.” It was an interesting analysis of how women tend to categorize their friendships. Well-written. Erudite. Interesting, even.

If you’re looking for a great essay on friendships, go and read hers.

But I got to thinking about that essay this weekend because, well, I just did. And probably also because I was surrounded by friends—lots of friends—and the lines of friendship got blurred, so I’m feeling this instinctive need to sort it all out.

Where better to sort than here, right? I’m constantly sorting out all my issues with you all. Why not one more, huh?

So this past weekend was our grand and glorious 25th college reunion. OH MY WORD, it was fun! Too much fun! In fact, it took me two days to even muster up enough strength to get my bed made and to empty the dishwasher. Staying up until 1 a.m. for two nights in a row really took its toll on me because it’s not like I’m staying up into all hours of the night on a regular basis.

Unless, of course, there’s a Blackhawks game on. Then I just might be persuaded to stay up until, oh, 11. But not much more.

But it was so worth it because I got to spend every possible waking minute with four of my dearest friends in the world. And even if we did eat way too much Costco Spinach/Artichoke/Parmesan dip on those flattened pretzel thingys and even if we did drink a little wine late into the night, it was so worth it because we were together. Gloriously together for about 72 hours.

Speaking of which. Why does time go so fast when you want it to just slow down? I kept checking the clock all weekend, wishing time would just stop so we could keep talking, talking, talking. But it didn’t.

But then again, maybe that’s a good thing because seriously not much gets done when you’re sitting up until 1 a.m. eating fattening mayonnaise-based appetizers and drinking wine.

Anyway, the weekend was filled with friends and it got me to thinking about the nature of friendship and the types of friendships I’ve enjoyed over the years.

Because I’m deep like that.

And, like Judith Viorst (you knew I’d get back to her, didn’t you?), I realized that I have categories of friends too. Just different categories. Probably less erudite categories than Judith’s, but it’s the best I’ve got.

Facebook Friends. These are the friends who will tell you what they are making for dinner. Or how they unclogged their bathroom drain. Or that their child is finally potty-training.

Not necessarily stuff I’d care to know about them, but also not stuff I’m opposed to. I guess you could same I’m ambivalent.

I’ve come to like Facebook, though, because it’s a fairly non-threatening way to keep up on people’s lives. To actually keep up on the fact that these people ARE alive. It’s fun. It’s surfacy. It’s nice.

Facebook is my friend, too, because it has helped me find people from my past whom I probably never would have found (or maybe it’s the other way around—I don’t do much searching for people, but if someone finds me, I’m not opposed to being friends with them again). Anyway, I’ve made some nice reconnections that I have enjoyed through Facebook.

Plus it gives me a place to vent. Like today, for instance, while I’ve been trying to write there has been a dog barking incessantly out my window. I don’t know who’s dog it is, but it is driving me CRAZY! Enter Facebook, where I can tell 282 of my not-so-closest-friends all about this dog and my feelings about it.

And they will care. I know they will. Because they are my Facebook friends.

Real-life friends. Another category of friendships that is not hard to figure out. These are friends IRL (“in real life” – I know this only because I have teenagers). These are the friends I can call when my car is in the shop and I need a ride to go pick it up. These are the friends I actually pick up the phone to call. Sort of. I don’t usually call anybody, but if I’m going to call someone, it will be a real-life friend.

These friends know a lot more about me than my Facebook friends. Some of them know where I hide my house key. Some know where I like to shop and how I spend my Saturday mornings. And the best ones know how I take my Margarita (frozen, no salt).

I love my real-life friends because they are dependable. I can depend on them to have just as busy a schedule as I do and not to be offended if they don’t hear from me for weeks at a time. I can depend on them to bring me dinner after a long trip or after surgery, depending on the situation.

And I hope my real-life friends find me dependable too. I can be depended on to drop everything to go to lunch with them. I can be depended on to organize our PTAA group (and if you don’t know what that is, I don’t really have time to explain it. Just know it has something to do with Margaritas.). I can be depended on to be at Bible study every week and to love being with them there.

Real-life friends are the ones who dig in and just do life with you. The ones you bump into in the grocery store and say, “Hey, how’s that thing we talked about last week?” They won’t care if I have a bad hair day because they’ve seen it all. And they won’t even mention those few extra pounds I’ve put on lately because age and hormones don’t mix. God bless my real-life friends for not mentioning that.

The Best of Friends. These are the friends who have known you the longest and who still love you despite it all. These are the friends who you might not have seen in 15 years, but who you can sit down and catch up with immediately. These are the friends who encourage me the most because despite all we’ve been through, both separately and together, they still love me.

The best of friends were there when I was an awkward college freshman in my Kelly green corduroy pants just hoping some boy would notice my Dorothy Hamill haircut and think I’m special. The best of friends sing hymns together in their dorm rooms—one person for each part. (I guess you could say here that the best of friends are dorks.) The best of friends let you be totally crazy or catty or snarky and they just sit there and listen and love you even more because of it.

The best of friends know your family. And your husband’s family. So you don’t have to waste time on all THAT stuff.

The best of friends sit down, look you in the eye, and care deeply about where you’ve been and where you’re going. And you do the same for them.

I’ve been thinking about these best of friends ever since they left on Sunday.The weekend was a blur. So much fun. So much laughter. So much catching up.

And so much love.

Love that spans 30 years. Love that picks up where it left off. Love that lets me be me. Love that doesn’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve been through.

Love that sits up eating junk food and drinking wine until 1.

The best of friends. I miss them already.



  1. I'm hitting the "like" on this one - love your classification system!

  2. Did you forget blogging friends? :)

    Glad you had such a fantastic time at your reunion.


  3. What a gift to spend the weekend with the best of friends.