Earlier this year, I ran into one of my former high school best friends at the funeral of a mutual friend. We were truly true friends who had a mutual respect and appreciation for each other’s quirkiness that is rare to find in teens. A friendship over a love for Kwame, polka-dots, brownies and “crimped” hair that started our freshman year blossomed into a great brotherhood/sisterhood that proved to be a treasured jewel after I experienced a tragedy my junior year. Then we blew it! We made the ill-fated choice our senior year to wreck the friendship by dating. Yikes! I know! What in the WORLD was I thinking? (I wasn’t.) And when I say wreck it, I mean we wrecked it! We messed up big time. Not only did we damage our friendship, and were truly mean, for lack of a better word, to each other, but we hurt a couple of others along the way. I regret our lack of, let’s just say, teenage sense.
Thankfully, we were able to get a pleasant association back on track by college, but things were never the same. We kept in touch from time-to-time, supported each other from a not too close distance in our relationships through college and in years that would follow would see each other at social or professional events and catch up. I remember his parents sending a present when I got married, and I remember being elated when I met his now wife, then fiancée in the mall one day.
As my old pal and I stood in line at the funeral to greet the wife of our mutual friend I was so happy to see him. Based on the Cheshire cat grin on his face I could tell he felt the same. We caught up on life, flashed pictures from our phone, asked about our parents and siblings, made embarrassingly, wacky jokes reminiscent of the ones plucked straight from the halls of our hallowed days at Ramsay… and then parted ways as if our friendship didn’t help tightly weave the fabric of our teen lives back in the 80s and 90s.
I felt weird being in his presence. It wasn’t at all in a non-platonic way, but because I wondered, what could have become of our friendship (not the other messy part we invited along for the ride). One decision to stick to what was working (friendship) and things could have been different. We could have been best buds, growing up together, with our new families and futures in tow.
I admire truly platonic relationships between men and women which have stood the test of time, and have been respectfully adjusted to fit each person’s purpose and changes in life. That’s a desire of mine as I greatly appreciate the insight and influence of men (I’m one of the prissiest girls who can hang with the boys I know.). I would be tickled pink to be able to spend time from time-to-time with wise, funny, food-loving, football-watching, helpful, honest single men who get the gist of “just friends”. As our individual lives transformed and we each meet whomever is being made ready, I envision it being totally rad to form cool cliques as married couples where we can enjoy healthy, meaningful and fun times together as family units. Call me crazy, but a girl’s gotta dream every now and again.
I have only one male friend whom I never dated and am proud to still call friend. I have appreciated his candor (he is brutally honest, helping “peep me to the game”), and concern when needed, but outside of the occasional civic function every year or so our lives aren’t intersected. So he doesn’t really count. (Don’t tell him I said that.) So for me, the quest for the “he’s just my friend” continues. A Sunday afternoon dinner with girlfriends resurrected the question of whether men and women can be friends, and resurrected this blog post which I originally posted in April 2014. My friends all gladly reminded me of my mishaps of old with male friendships-gone-awry because one or both of us didn’t stay in our lanes. To me, that’s a sign of me revisiting my heart’s desire to have some cool, platonic, single dudes in my life. I believe that men and women can be friends. I just believe that it takes a personal choice to value friendship just as much as a relationship.
So many times, as women, we think having a “man” is the most important thing. Don’t get me wrong, I want and will have one of those too, but I’ve realized, at 42, that having a friend is equally as valuable and necessary in life. Each person we encounter serves a specific purpose. It’s our responsibility, and to our advantage to know who belongs where in our life and be gratefully content with it.