I have just dug up the first pot of potatoes and there are real potatoes there. A miracle. The leaves looked dreadful, but that didn't affect the potatoes, thank heavens. And there are 11 more pots to go. Sigh. I love this time of year when I can start gathering food from my garden. The old hunter-gatherer thing, I suppose. Well, the gatherer part. I am not hunting anything. And Glynis and I have been to the gym to hand in the letters, and booked our induction sessions too. I also had a word with the physiotherapist who said "CR what?" So we are skipping that option. A very nice man, who after a short conversation, said he would go and learn more if I needed him to do so, but really, I think I have enough input from everyone who has tried to help in the past 3 years.
Yes, it is 3 years on the 20 June since I wrecked my knee. I could hardly believe it. Three long years. However, I am still here and still me, and still walking, so that is good.
I have nearly finished a book called Friendship for Grown-ups by Lisa Welchel. I don't know whether it is my mood, or the weather or the whatever, but I have battled with this book. I have not dropped it in the bath yet, but there have been times when I have been tempted to throw it on the floor. There are parts which are excellent, but other parts which make me want to call her and suggest a chat. How many of you have read it? And what did you think?
Friendship is something which is so important, especially for women. And it can save the sanity at times. It certainly has played a huge part in my life. Being married to a man who spent 9 months of the year away at sea made friendships vital for me. And I have been incredibly blessed with the friends I have made along the way. Some friends come and go, and some stay forever. As I am sure I have said before, friends are there for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Whoever coined that phrase knew what they were talking about.
Perhaps because I am gregarious, talk a lot and like people, I have found it easy to make friends. I don't set out with a goal of acquiring them, they happen. The talking. That must be it. There are friends who know me really, really well, deep dark secrets and all, and then those who know the parts of me I let them see. It varies. Friends who step forward unhesitatingly, and those who step back at really unfortunate times. We are all human, and that is inevitable. There is no such thing as perfection.
I am really lucky to have people around who are quite capable of saying "Stop, you stupid woman, what do you think you are doing" as well as those who can see hesitation or uncertainty at times, and encourage me. I like to think I do the same for them. I certainly hope so.
At times, though, and here I may be treading on dangerous ground, you will meet someone who is not able to share friendship. Where having more than one friend becomes a threat to them. Where the friendship starts consuming you alive. Where you end up focusing on trying to help them to the exclusion of all else, and here I am also saying that trying to "fix" someone is not an option. I am old enough to know that this is futile and totally out of order.
The best way on earth to make friends is to be you. To not pre-judge people. To assume they are lovely people. To be open to conversations. To listen more than you talk (and coming from me that is a mega part.....the talking, remember.) To relax and smile. It takes a while before you can start confiding in people, and some people will never be close enough for you to let them past the walls we all construct to protect ourselves.
I am interested in people. Their differences. This is probably why I started blogging, now I come to think of it. I wanted to find women around the world and get to know them. And my blogging friends, who occupy a special little corner of their own in my heart, of course, come from all places, all ages, all backgrounds, and are just the best.
But I am not trying to issue an how-to list here, because we all start from different places, don't we. I don't know, in all honesty, what desperation for a friend feels like. I am well acquainted with loneliness, but I am lucky enough to know that there are people out there who I matter to.Who care. I know I can pick up the phone and call someone. I know my sister is there. My family. I don't know what it feels like to be isolated. And in fact, I like the solitariness too at times. I am happy with my own company. And boredom will never be an issue. Too many things to do in too little time, if I look at the years ahead.
Having interests usually mean there will be chances to meet people with similar ones, and that is a great foundation for a fledgling friendship. Some will fizzle out, but some may not.
I moved countries/hemispheres. But I had friends around. The ones I left have not disappeared. I was skyping with one of my oldest friends just 2 nights ago, as she sat in her coastal home in SA, and I sat here in middle England. And the conversation was as easy as it would have been had I lived round the corner. And Linds and I do the same when we chat - New Zealand can feel very close. If they ask how I am, I know they really want to know the answer. These are the friends where pretence is not an option.
Another thing - even the best and closest of friendships do not have to be deep to be meaningful. Deep is good. So is meaningful. But the most important thing about friendship, to ME is the ability to laugh till I cry, and to cry till I laugh with someone. To anticipate. To be in the background. To be the one bringing the bags of essentials when the sky falls in. Making the tea.
Actually, the best of friends help me to remember who I am, you know. When I get bogged down, as we all do at times, they are the ones with the memories of the woman/girl/child I was once, and they remember the essentials. What would I do without them? I have no idea.
This has morphed into something considerably longer than I anticipated. It is such a huge subject and of necessity, it is subjective. My perspective, based on who I am, and my experience. Everyone else will have different views, but I would genuinely love to hear what you think about friendship. And if you find it hard to make friends, please don't feel hurt/bad/excluded. We are all different. Your views are just as valid and important. Ahhh I love this bloggy platform where we all have voices. Use them!
Let me tell you about something which happened with Jean, my lovely friend. First, let me tell you that she is the gentlest, kindest of ladies, and would NEVER say anything nasty. Or make waves. (I am good at making waves. One of my talents.) So we were in Switzerland on holiday, and helping my brother-in-law, and I, in passing, told Jean how to do something. Well, let's be clear. I instructed her. I caught a glimpse of her expression (she was not thrilled) and had to zap out fast because I wanted to roar with laughter. Why? Because she was CROSS with me. EUREKA!!! So when she had calmed down a little, I said - with a grin - our friendship just moved into the realms of reality. Why? Because she could be mad as a wet hen and I wouldn't run away. It is ok to get mad. Ok to disagree. It is ok to be real. Oh how we laughed about it, and I apologised too. It is just fine for me to love something and for my friends to loathe it.
But back to the book. It got me thinking. And here I am. Like every living thing, friendship takes work. Care. Nurturing. Being there.
But oh, is it worth the effort.