A recent article by Will Dunham states that “people are apt to pick friends who are genetically similar to themselves – so much so that friends tend to be as alike at the genetic level as a person’s fourth cousin.” Is it familiarity that brings such comfort? There’s something about spending time with friend that soothes the soul.
I met a good friend this morning for breakfast. We met years ago when we both taught at a very small private school. We have many shared life experiences, both professionally and personally, that led to a mutual respect and trust. I know with Maria, I can be myself. Although I don’t see her every day anymore, I know she is always only a phone call away. Everyone needs a friend like this.
I have another good friend at work. I had many moments of panic this summer while we both waited for her to decide if she wanted a position at another school. Thankfully, she decided to stay. She laughed when she called to tell me the news. “I’m not sure I’m happy about it, but I know you are!” Marsha knows me. We are partners in crime at school, and I can’t imagine being there without her. She keeps me sane and keeps things in perspective. If I get hot under the collar at a meeting, she will very calmly tell me to relax and let it go. She keeps me balanced. Everyone needs a friend like this.
Another stratum of friendship lies in the family zone. My sisters have always been my source of support. As my youngest sister and I became adults, we became especially close. My sister Maureen is brutally honest and at the same time, unfailingly compassionate. She and I have a relationship that knows no bounds. Nothing is off-limits. We can and do say anything and everything to one another. There are things about me only she knows, and we have spent hours discussing life and all its implications. Everyone needs a friend like this.
The fact that my husband is one of my best friends is a huge part of what makes my marriage work. We talk all the time. We sit up in bed at night, talking for hours. We are very different people and the two of us love to debate, but it always done in a respectful way. We support each other and even when we argue, there is a mutual admiration that keeps things in check. Everyone needs a friend like this.
Of course, we all have a friend or two from years gone by. This is a person who is no longer in your life, but is a big part of who you are today. I have a dear friend whom I will always remember fondly. We were childhood friends, and went through many “firsts” together. We came into a new school together; she having moved from a different state, and me having switched from private to public school. I’m not sure I would have made it through high school without her, but what really makes me treasure her friendship was how she was there for me years later at every moment of a difficult period in my life. She believed in me and supported me, even when I doubted myself. We lost contact many years ago but I remember her fondly and still miss her. This was a friendship that touched me deeply. Everyone needs a friend like this.
As I watch my children grow into young adults, I am pleased with the friendships they have made. Some seem to be friendships that will last a lifetime. My daughter recently went to Spain on a school trip. She would only go if her best friend, Megan, came along. The two of them went and now have a shared adventure they will always remember. Everyone should have a friend like this.
Familiarity? DNA? I think it’s those friendships we nurture and tend to that lead to a lifetime of soothing moments.