The Friends You Keep

From three to eight years of age, I can remember having one primary friend: Curtis. There were several other “minor” friends, however. I considered the others friends, but not in the same way I thought of Curtis as one. He was my sleepover buddy, my make-believe game partner, my movie pal, and my loyal companion. We would practically do everything together, and our families were close as well. I thought we were going to be friends forever. There never was a thought of not being friends with him. The future did not exist to me at that age.

But around the time I was eight years old, Curtis’ family decided to move away about 15 minutes away (by car). This was devastating to me, though as an adult, it seems so close. But as an eight-year-old without a car, that seemed like an infinite distance.

I lost contact with Curtis, and ever since that time, I have never fully recovered. My faith in eternal, boundless friendship waned to depressing lows. Now, it is difficult for me to think of one friend that is genuinely there for me, and for which I am passionate to hang out with. Friendship, at least when I was a child, seemed almost like an addiction. Being in each other’s presence was a type of hallucination that made the world seem magical.

But now, set in the mundane existence of an adult, that magic has been all but lost. At times, I get glimpses of true friendship again, but not at the same intensity. But where is all this discussion leading? I have a theory that we cannot be close to people, truly, if we are not close to ourselves.

As children, we either have no idea of our self, or are exuberant in the discovery of our self. Either way, as a children, we have a joy for life that is hard to quantify. In this joy, we have friendships that are as open and limitless as our self. When we get older, that exuberance dies down, and as a result, our friendships suffer.

In reflecting about friendship, I have also come to the conclusion that you cannot have more than one to three close friends at a time. In this era of Facebook friendships, this may seem old-fashioned or philosophical. Yet, can you remember wanting to get together with more than three different people enthusiastically during a week? I cannot. I usually have only one to two friends that I feel passionate about hanging out with. Also, in this busy age, it is a tough task to find time to meet someone you care about in the first place. We barely have time for our family.

Because of this degraded idea of friendship, I believe we are slowly forgetting the magic of this bond. We—with myself included—are neglecting the fact that a friend is someone who connects with you on such a level that it is hard to not be around this person. I am not advocating attachment, but rather introspecting about that deep bond we have with childhood friends that we may have pushed back into our subconscious. In searching my feelings and thoughts, I do not believe that as adults we must believe friendship to be less extraordinary than it was in our childhood. It seems if we keep our hearts and minds open, as if we were children, we can once again experience the joy of true friendship.

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