time

Some go, some stay: summer thoughts on friendship

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet.
Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”
― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

For those living abroad, summer comes with high expectations and mixed feelings. Holidaying home is a trip down Memory Lane, a well deserved resting bubble and the perfect time to catch up with old friends. Sometimes, though, that comes with the unpleasant realisation that friendship, as love, can’t always stay afloat despite time, distance and life itself. Shared memories can take a relationship only so far. At some point, they start to fade and you need to infuse new life, new moments spent together, future commitments to see each other to take the whole thing to the next stage.

(Photo: public domain)

(Photo: public domain)

I lost many of my youth friends on the way. They still sit among my sleeping Facebook contacts, those whose name is solidly present on the list without having properly interacted in the past decade. We see each other’s posts and recent pictures. We sometimes struggle to recognize that boy/girl we had so much fun with between thinning hairlines and new wrinkles. We think we’ll write a message, just to catch up. Then we never do it because there’s another life happening. Now.

I don’t know if it’s a women’s prerogative but we can’t seem to keep our friends for a lifetime. Men tend to hang out forever with their primary school classmates and rarely form deep, profound friendship after a certain age. Women’s friendship is a different world: new friends keep coming into a woman’s life till her last breath and naturally some get lost on the way.

Women give generously to their friends, they discuss everything: from mundane occupations to the most heartbreaking moments in life. They nurture friendship as a form of love. As love, it’s not always time-proof.

Someone told me once that marrying a foreigner is a statement. It means telling the world you weren’t so comfortable, after all, with those people you grew up with. It might be true, in a certain way, for mixed couples tend to have the best time together while they often struggle with same-nationality partners. What’s certain is that the only “old friends” I kept so far are those living abroad, or married to a foreigner. We don’t need many words or long written catch-ups. A message here and there will do it. We know how our lives are.

As someone who grows attached to everybody and can’t imagine to change hairdresser or doctor, I can’t but feel sorry for the others, every time I am reminded of how much time has passed since we drank lemonades together on the beach, dreaming of our future. But I am learning the 30s lesson here: you have to let go of the past. Some friends go, some stay, some will eventually come back, at a different stage of life and some new will come to cheer you up.

You can’t make everyone happy and at some point you might have to cut branches, in order to become who you are. Yet, I still have to deal with the random nostalgia.

Have you been able to nurture old friendships while living abroad? How?I’d love to hear your stories.

Journals are better than Prozac

“I’d sell both kidneys just to be 20 again”. This is what i said last night to my nephew who’s 20, gorgeous, youthful, handsome-and-doesn’t-know-it and totally lost. A year is a century for him, today is forever, old people become so at 29 and he wants to change the world. Frankly, I’d do anything to feel like that again.
And then, since I am staying at my parents place in my old room and it harbours the most complete collections of my opera omnia, here I am, sleepless, avidly reading my journals of a decade ago.
Someone said that what keeps humans going is the progressive loss of memories regarding difficult times. When I think now of my 20s I remember them as a garden of Eden, where everything was easy and smooth, I was independent and skinny and cute and funny and daring and YOUNG. Well, according to my written memoirs I was actually a wreck.

Here’s what I wrote on March, 23rd 2002:

“It is so complicated to be 23 and try to act as a grownup. I am too old to act without considering consequences, too young to have a sense of perspective and set priorities. It is so confusing”.

I filled entire journals with this sort of considerations. With all the loving tenderness the old me inspires now, I have a good reason to smile: it got better, eventually. And it will get even better later.

Keeping a journal is better than Prozac.