Friends

A warm summer night. A man and a woman are animatedly conversing as they drive up into the hills. Fireflies are flashing against the velvety black woods.

She’s not quite sure how the conversation took this turn, but she finds herself on the defensive. A friend, she says, always remains a friend even when their relationship changes. Her companion insists that a man and a woman can’t be friends, a relationship has to be exclusive and doesn’t permit … at that point she is about to get out of the car, even though they are in the midst of the countryside, for their discussion is going nowhere. A car pulls up next to them. Documents please. It’s the cops. They seem to be suspicious, seeing a car just off the road in the middle of the night. Documents are shown, and the man and the woman quietly turn back to town, each of them still convinced that they are right. A friend is a friend, whether it is two men, two women, or a man and a woman. And true friends stay friends for a lifetime.

A friend, according to the dictionary,  is a person whom one knows well and is fond of; intimate associate; close acquaintance. A person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations. One does hope, of course, that a husband or a companion will also be a “friend”.  And one wants a mother (or a father) to be one’s friend.

I had never thought about it, but the meaning of “a friend” is not necessarily what you think it is. Different cultures have different concepts. In German, you can’t simply say “Er ist mein Freund”, he is my friend, or so I was told by my German aunt. You have to say he is a friend of mine, otherwise it means he is that very special friend, your lover or companion. I’m not sure how true that is in English, or even Italian. Of course, she was in the theater.

He or she is a friend of mine. He or she is my friend. Then there is the difference between acquaintance and friend. I’ve noticed that in Italy everyone is somehow considered “a friend”.  For me, a friend is someone whose ideas we share, who accepts us for what we are. They become part of us and somehow survive in us even when physically they are no more.

There are friends you’ve met and hugged, you’ve held when they needed you. 

And there are those you’ve never even seen or actually heard. As one gets older, or is forced to staying within four walls, opportunities for making friends diminish. But do they really? For nowadays, there are other ways of communication and they may be more rewarding. Letters, now instantaneous, are ways of exchanging thoughts, ideas. Yet also giving us a chance to ponder what we wish to say.

I was told that at a certain age, one doesn’t make new friends. I totally disagree. There is a richness to new friendships all the lovelier for being unexpected.

A late-blooming friendship. Of the kind that comes as a surprise and is held onto with gratitude, fearing perhaps that it will disappear. For friendships must be nurtured and, with my newest “poetic” friendship, I am doing my best to keep it alive and growing.

4 thoughts on “Friends

  1. Erika The kids just left going in different directions to shop! This is the first quiet hour I’ve had alone for days. It has been a wonderful almost kaleidoscopic Whirlwind of activity with Brett Costanza and Vincenzo. After three years we’re going to see who they are again Costanza is a very bright strong willed little girl just constantly challenging every boundary and decision. Her English is incredible and when she wants to be she is imaginative and charming. Vincenzo is another story. The word merciful comes to mind as he always has a mischievous smile and this has good-natured as his father Piero. It’s gotta be genetic. True he rarely stops talking but then he actually has something interesting to say. Clearly I have A special connection with him. And Brett and I are actually getting along and communicating better than ever. She has turned out to be a remarkable mother and professional woman as wellShe has turned out to be a remarkable mother and professional woman as well as a loving and lovely daughter.

    It’s been an endless parade of trips to the aquarium, to the saltwater pool in Lincoln Park, a two night camping trip to the San Juan‘s (which ran me into the ground to the point that I could not actually stand up by myself! Lauren’s husband Gerald is an outdoor expert and put the whole thing together.)

    And yeah I’m dealing with the usual medical things and feeling a bit oppressed by the possibilities. It’s a bit of a shroud of times and I can only honestly say that I’m dealing with issues and I wish I wasn’t and yes it’s turning me into a grump and making me a bit depressed despite all the wonderful stuff going on around me with the kids. I’ve had writers block for a couple of months and I stare guiltily at the pile of papers that would be a novel but my mind can no longer organize with the agility I used to take for granted.

    Your piece about solitude really struck home. As does this piece about friends. You are so “right on” in your writing. After knowing you all these years I am stunned at how astute and prolific you’ve become as though there has been some sort of renaissance in your thinking and writing. You remind me of the guy who wrote a River Runs Through It (Norman McLean?) who wrote it in his 70s—an English professor but his first novel. In my darker moments I think of The Death of Ivan Ilyich…

    I know I shouldn’t talk about this with anybody but my shrink and certainly I should not burden you with it. I have not let on any of this with friends here. Or I have tried not to let it all hang out! Who wants to “live” with a Tolstoy? But I guess that’s what friends are for.

    Hopefully this too will pass. I will get a grip!

    For now all my love my dear friend!

    James

    Brett did not come camping ⛺️ and she had her first few days alone in years!

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. Errata

    . The word merciful MIRTHFUL comes to mind as he always has a mischievous smile and this has good-natured as his father Piero

    Sent from my iPhone

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  3. Hello Erika – what a nice piece to read! It’s true, as you say, there are still friendships to be made in old age and one of the blessings of the internet with its very-mixed reputation is that it pushes back those four walls to include people in other countries, even other continents. Hooray for new friendships I say!

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