Wednesday, March 19, 2008

BFF: A History

Since a comment by whatigotsofar on this post, I've been thinking about the friend life cycle, and its unpredictability. I've been so convinced, at times, that a certain person would be in my life until the bittersweet end, only to have them drift off, or abruptly disappear. Others who were challenging to get along with have gone the distance and are now in my closest inner circle.

So where have the old friends gone? Let's take an inventory:

Best grade school girlfriend:
Now living in British Columbia with two kids and a third on the way. For the non-Canadians, BC is on the West coast of Canada, far away from me.

I propose re-naming British Columbia to Chums Movawayfromia. A few other women have come into my life, seemed like great friend material, and then just as I was feeling comfortable with them they all went "Guess what? I'm moving to BC!" I would move there myself, just to help my social life, if all my family weren't in Toronto.

Best Middle-School and High-School girlfriends:
Long gone.

Best University girlfriend:
Still my best girlfriend. Hi Aurora!

The woman I met at my first I.T. job:
This one, I had pegged as a BFF. We spent all day e-mailing each other almost every weekday. And it wasn't just silly girltalk either. We spilled our guts about everything.

She was there for me as I agonized over whether or not I should leave my first husband. She cried on my shoulder over her endless dating failures and ticking biological clock. We knew everything about each other.

Then she finally landed a man. I heard every detail of the courtship, and shared her victory when he finally proposed.

I went to visit the newly engaged couple. I noticed, and obviously my friend did too, that her fiance really enjoyed looking at me all night. And that was that. I never heard from her again. Not an e-mail, not a phone call, not a letter. Just, pffft - GONE.

I was as heartbroken as when my first love dumped me.

Best girlfriend from psychology school:
She's awesome. We need to get our acts together and meet more often.

Worst girlfriend from psychology school:
Started out as top candidate for the best girlfriend. We were the same age, had lots in common; she lived in my neighbourhood. We hung out and had fun for a year at school and outside of it.

One day I called her after a fight with Ken, because I was feeling down, and I was working on reaching out to people instead of isolating myself when I was feeling sad. It was a conscious risk, and I was nervous about calling. I left a message that was a little wistful, saying that I was sorry to have missed her and could she call me back.

She called me back all right. She was furious. She perceived that my message was "passive aggressive". Told me that she didn't have time for people who were not clear about their needs. Asked me to set out for her exactly how many phone calls I required from her per month, and how many minutes per call. She said she had a lot of friends and didn't have time to devote that much to each one.

We spoke a couple of times after that and tried to come to an understanding, but we never could. Obviously, that ended our friendship. And since then, I haven't risked calling a friend on the phone when I'm feeling very low, despite many warm invitations to do so. (But sometimes I'll e-mail.)

This isn't a comprehensive list, but it shows the extremes.

I'm grateful for the friends I have now - they're terrific! I haven't said as much about my friend successes, but only because I'm a drama queen and I love telling those shocking stories. Guy friends have not been forgotten; that's a topic for another post.

Also, I haven't always been a perfect friend. That's a topic for another post too.


Warped Mind of Ron said...

Naturally I find friends to be a tricky business. My best friend I have known since 2nd or 3rd grade. I think we have grown a bit different, but we are great friends. I didnt have many other friends and most of those have drifted away over time. Since I have worked at the same place for 18 years I have many work friends. And don't forget my newly aquired blog friends.

jameil1922 said...

when did i.t. girl get divorced? b/c that's inevitable. psych school was pschO. what in the heck?????? you just gave me my confession!!!! whooooooo! thx!

Nilsa S. said...

Girlfriends, in particular, are tricky. In my Alphabet City series on my blog, G is for Girlfriends. I haven't yet made it to that post - it's coming up soon. You beat me to it!

Leighann said...

I've never really been able to get along well with women. I don't know what it is (probably something they do to annoy me) but I've only had a handful of women that I would consider FRIENDS.

I alway get along well with men, I appreciate their humor more than most women do which always made me "that cool chick" to hang out with.

Maybe I was a man in a former life LOL

Anonymous said...

Sucks about the IT friend. I completely understand her though. (I think baased solely on the paragraph you wrote.)

As for the worst friend, I've got a theory, it may be completely idiotic, but it's an idea.
I've heard that psychology students sometimes perceive themselves to be suffering from (I'll call them) ailments that they are currently studying. It may be possible that this person is sort of having the reverse happen to her; where she starts seeing ailments in all the people around her. Maybe she had diagnosed you as having some sort of psychological disorder and that was her treatment, tough love or whatever you'd call that anal retentive drill seargant phone call time plan.
But again, just an idea. I'm no expert on that stuff.

Good post by the way.

Anonymous said...

That stinks about the IT friend. Woman, friends, and men always a tricky thing.

And worse psychology friend, did I miss something she kind of went psycho on you. Her first client should be herself.

Wyldth1ng said...

My best friends have all died, so I stopped collecting them. Now I just roam about.

Good luck with your friends.

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: Friends are very tricky. It's funny that there are whole sections in the bookstore devoted to romantic relationships, but almost nothing about friendships. I wish there was a "Friends for Dummies" book because I could use some pointers.

Jameil: That was nothing. The confession is coming tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Nilsa: I'll definitely be interested in reading your Girlfriends entry. Alphabet City - that's a great idea! I'm already wondering what's on the agenda for Q and X.

Leighann: I'm a lot like you - at least I was a science/computer geek in high school so I hung out mostly with boys. I still don't feel that girltalk is my native language, but at least I'm more comfortable spending time with women now.

Whatigotsofar: My experience from being a student in psychology school was that all the students (myself included) were there because we had our own problems that got us interested in psychology in the first place. And yes, there was a good deal of psycho-hypochondria and "diagnosing" of others that was mostly inaccurate. In other words, I agree with you completely.

1218blog: Yes, physician heal thyself, and all that. It really was like she went psycho. I'd never seen her like that. It was shocking. Whatever it was that you missed, I'd missed it too.

wyldth1ng: I can't imagine how it must be for you to have lost your friends. Words fail me, but my heart goes out to you.

San said...

I hate it when friends drift away when you had forever hopes. I recently had one move to the Vancouver region, although on the US side. What kind of big friend-sucking device do they have in that area anyway? Is it something a government put there? Has anyone investigated this?

R.E.H. said...

I think I still have most of my friends from the past... although not all are as close as they used to be.

There are a number of ones though, that when I think about I have no idea where they are these days.

Anonymous said...

The best F is a BFF!

Aurora said...

Thanks! And great idea for a post. And you do it good justice too. It's always strange and interesting how friends come in and out of our lives.

Karen said...

I LOVE this post and I might copy you and do one of my own! That sort of took me down a bit of memory lane for me. I hope you don't mind if I steal your idea. I'll give you credit (maybe - lol). :)

Nicole said...

That friends thing is weird indeed.
have some loose friends, but only one Best friend. She's with me since close to 30 years though.
Everyone else disappeared....

Sparkling Red said...

San: I would suspect alien abduction, except that they do return for visits without any signs of trauma. I'll have to work on a better conspiracy theory.

R.E.H.: People seem to have a natural tendency to drift apart, like the model of the ever-expanding universe. I used to hang on to people desperately. Now I let them go when they drift. It's natural.

Unsigned: Word to Big Bird!

Aurora: Thank you. :-)

Karen: Go right ahead! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Nicole: That seems to happen around the age of 30, when people get busy with family and or career. I can only hope that the trend reverses later in life.

Jenski said...

I also think this is a great idea...Maybe I'll do a Friends Profiles series. :) You could totally turn this into a meme.

I'm glad you found out how Worst Friend from Psychology School was early. That said, any of your true friends would totally want you to call if you're feeling down. One of my friends actually thanked me for doing so...said she was honored I was comfortable calling and balling to her over the phone. :)

Sparkling Red said...

Jenski: Seems like this idea is becoming a self-made meme. It's neat - I love how the idea has caught on.

I've thanked people for trusting me enough to confide in me, but I've never heard as much in return. I picked all the wrong people to confide in, and now I just have to get up my courage and give it a try with the right people.

Kelly O said...

Yeah, the thing about intimacy is that you need to trust someone enough to be emotionally vulnerable with them. I struggle with that, too. Which is better: emotionally open and available but sometimes deeply hurt, or distant, safe, and alone?

savia said...

I live in Saskatchewan, so all my friends move to Calgary. Though my fair share have been sucked away by BC's gravitational pull. And Toronto's, too, come to think of it!

Though my partner, Superstar, moved from BC to Sask. so we could be together, so there must be some antidote to the BC pull. If I figure out what it is, I'll let you know.

Sparkling Red said...

Kelly O: I flip flop back and forth between the two extremes. There has to be a middle ground that would be healthier and more comfortable.

Savia: It sounds to me like, in this case, *you* are the antidote! You must have a magical magnetism. ;-)