I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have Laura.
Our houses were down the road from each other. From my earliest memory, I would walk the path to hers, and she would walk it to mine. If we timed it right, we’d meet somewhere in the middle. We didn’t have cell phones back then, and I don’t remember calling each other much on the house phones either. We’d just show up.
Most of my childhood memories are with Laura. We wrote secret notes and left them in trees to rediscover later; we’d name turtles at the pond and spy on our brothers at the BMX track.
We can all learn from childhood friendships. (Photo credit Madeleine Korn)
Occasionally we would disagree, and one of us would walk home, but we’d always show up again a few hours later. The beauty of childhood friendships, of course, is that we are completely ourselves in them.
I didn’t need to dress a certain way for Laura; she didn’t need to agree on everything. If one of us were tired, we would say so. If one of us didn’t feel like talking for a while, we didn’t. It was all quite simple.
As adults, friendships can be more complicated than they were in childhood. It makes sense that this happens. We have manners and social etiquette to consider, and we now understand how our words and behaviors affect others.
But there’s something magical about those childhood friendships. There is something special about them that is beyond just nostalgia. Perhaps that something is the purity of it.
If you are a second-guesser or an over-thinker like me, an evening of socializing might end with swirling thoughts:
Should I have said that?
Did I take that the wrong way?
Why didn’t I say that differently?
Those thoughts, although certainly warranted at times, can other times taint a pleasant night. They can also be exhausting. If I take a step back and learn from my friendship with Laura, I can remind myself that friendships are not about being perfect but about being authentic.
Little kids are real with each other. Children believe in friendship when you consider how often they say or write “BFF” to each other. Claiming to be Best Friends Forever is quite a commitment. However, maybe there’s some connection between that claim and the idea of authenticity.
Maybe it’s the idea that the intention to be lasting friends exists. If you don’t have to worry about the relationship drifting away, perhaps you can spend your energy and time just being yourselves together. There is less risk. The agreement and message have already been shared and established: I like you.
As adults, I like you means we can get together in our sweatpants. It means I might not have anything witty to say tonight. It means work got me crabby. It also means we might laugh hard enough that one of us will snort. It means I will exaggerate a story with flailing arm gestures. It means we might forget the time and stay an hour longer than we said.
As adults, we know that not every friendship is a lasting one. Yet perhaps there is a secret children know that makes friendship easier: the assumption that it will last.
With the question of its durability out of the way, we can show up. And in those rarest and most precious of friendships, someone will be walking down the path to meet us.
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Daughter Without a Mother: You Need Your Friends More Than Ever
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