I've always heard that as an adult I would find making new friends to be awkward and difficult. Something about losing that childhood ability to meet another girl or boy, make an instant connection, grab our new friend's hand and run off to play pirates in the backyard or immerse ourselves in an elaborate scenario where Barbie is a doctor and Ken is her receptionist. We tend to have sort of locked in our friendships by this point. For our own protection we've learned to wait to share our time and our thoughts and ourselves. We hold back. We don't expose too much too soon. As we should. Some people aren't deserving of our time or our intimacies. We learn this through trial and error and fights and tears and gut punches to the stomach. Especially us girls. We figure out our own boundaries. Our self preservation. And this makes opening up ourselves and our time more difficult. It's more precious now. Filled with family and work and responsibility.
By now we've solidified our friends from our college or high school or work or kid connections, those deeper friendships, the kind of close, extremely comfortable intimate friendships. But instead for me at least, adulthood has come with the ability to appreciate and seek out different types of friendships. I meet new people all the time in all kinds of ways. Through work activities or networking events or volunteer situations or online or through friends of friends. These new meetings or friendships have the kind of light cordial warmth of acquaintances at first and just occasionally these casual friendships become something more. And that's exciting. It's this mysterious gelling that brings people together, through shared interest or chemistry. I used to feel that I could only have a few close friends at a time and they were all important, all consuming friendships. I struggled with jealousy and frustration around keeping those friendships, protecting them from interlopers and staying popular within my group, like many pre-teen and teenage girls. This is ridiculous. As an adult woman I feel like I've finally settled into a place where I can appreciate and enjoy my friends for exactly who they are and what they can bring to the table.Finally as a 36 year old woman, I know that not everyone is going to be that friend I feel like I've known my entire life. That friend I could go years without speaking to and then when we are together again it's as if no time has passed at all. Those friendships are rare. Not better, just more valuable because they are rare.
And as I get older it makes me greatly appreciate that type of friendship. I have a variety of friendships with a range of men and women now. We provide each other with different benefits and opportunities. Some friends build you up and soften a hard day. Some friends shine a light of blunt truth just when you need to hear it. Some challenge your entrenched beliefs about the world. Some make you crazy. Some are wildly entertaining and make you feel like the only person in the room when you are together, but these tend to burn up fast and fade away during tough times. Some reflect back your own flaws or strengths, making you see yourself in a different way. Some topics are off limits with certain friends and with others, any conversation is open.
And a few weekends ago, painting pottery with two women, Katrina and Bethany, whom I've known for nearly fifteen years and adore, and Rainbow, who I just met for the first time after being friends online for a bit, I got to experience both kinds of friendships together. That new friendship where you are just getting to know each other. Try out each other's sense of humor, see if you click, see if the chemistry is right or if you have anything in common at all. And then that other kind. The kind built of years of lunches and holding each other's babies and long, intimate conversations and laughter and tears. Friendships that have a history. And I got to feel the beauty and joy of both. The comfortable intimacy and that thrill of learning about someone new, laughing at their jokes and seeing if they get yours too.