Today I caught myself texting my friend Kat (you might know her as Katherine Louise around these parts) “remember the days when we used to knock off at 3, meet at the foreshore on a sunny Winter’s day like today, and just coffee for hours like it was no big thang?” And as I reminisced, my heart did a little *pang*.
Kat and I have been friends since we were 8 years old, and our catch-ups have evolved through the times. Long BBQs as our parents watched us play Marco Polo in the pool paved the way for us to realize that we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. As teenagers we would monopolize a well-couched room in someone’s house, hang with our younger sisters, sit around telling jokes and make up weird nicknames for each other. Mine was Spike. Hers was Tommy.
Then we were 18, huddled together in a friend’s house as we waited to jump out and shout “SURPRISE!” for her birthday, and Kat said to me “You’re my best friend, you know.”
Our early 20s saw us eat our way through a fair chunk of every brunch venue in Perth (we were working full-time and living at home; we could afford the smashed avocado). Then before we knew it we were both engaged, both married, miraculously moving from our 4-minutes-apart childhood homes to 3-minutes-apart newlywed homes (in a much less affluent part of town, I confess). Sometimes we would go 24 hours between catch-ups, sometimes we would go a month. We both worked full time, attended different churches, maintained different friendships.
We didn’t always have a lot of time for each other. But we did always love each other.
Naturally, that season brought tension. I felt jealous of other friendships in her life. I expressed myself poorly, and she met me with perfect grace every time. “You are my priority” she would tell me, over and over, and eventually I realized that I was – it was just that our expectations of what that looked like hadn’t been matching up.
The tension melted away, we found an easy rhythm, and then something magical happened. The stars aligned and we both began finishing our work days in the mid-afternoon. And with that our all-afternoon catch-ups were born; iced chocolates and chips as we gazed at the sparkling sea and talked deeply about life, followed by long browses in our favourite gift shop on the foreshore in which I could never resist a small purchase, and she always could.
Fast forward a couple of years and we’ve each had a kid. You probably won’t believe this, but two (mostly) stay-at-home Mums who live 3 minutes apart can find it extremely difficult to match up their schedules! These days our friendship runs as deep as ever, but looks like distracted, quick sit-down coffees in which we’re each wrangling a tiny human, followed by walks around the shopping centre, toting our loin-fruits from shop to shop and bribing them with new Hot Wheels cars (OK that part is just me. I’m the sucker Mum. She is solid as a rock). Don’t get me wrong; it’s fun. Beautiful, even. But these catch ups often end with one of us finally succumbing to a cranky kiddo, apologising profusely and hauling ass out to our parents-with-prams parking spot to race home and get dinner on the table by 6. Alright, again, that’s usually just me. Becoming a Mum has given me a weird obsession with 6 ‘o clock dinners.
So that’s why I caught myself reminiscing about our long coffees on the foreshore. To me, that was a fond, easy, beautiful season in our friendship. We had grown together, we had weathered a little tension, and we were out the other side; two women in their late 20s with no agenda other than to simply enjoy each other’s company.
Why am I sharing all this with you? Because I want to demonstrate the changing seasons of a real-life grown-up friendship.
Sometimes, even our closest, most wonderful friendships begin to feel like an effort. Maybe you’re not seeing eye-to-eye on everything the way you used to. Maybe your work hours don’t match up. Maybe you live far apart from each other, and committing to catch up is committing a half day of your precious weekend when you factor in the travel time. Maybe your kids are on opposing nap schedules (who knew this was a thing!?!?!). Maybe you can’t afford to go out all the time, but you also can’t get your house clean enough for company. Maybe you have some new friends, and they seem a little more fun and their lifestyles match yours a little more closely.
Maybe there’s no issue at all – it’s just gotten hard.
These are all reasons I have used in the past; justifications for dwindling relationships with people I once couldn’t imagine abandoning. I come to you as a guilty party. It’s a miracle I still have any friends. Because I can tell you this:
Grown-up friendships are worth the investment.
Grown-up friendship doesn’t require that you agree on everything. It simply requires that you respect each other.
Grown-up friendship doesn’t require that you must see each other on a weekly basis. It simply requires that on the rare occasion your schedules match up, you dedicate that precious free time to one another.
It doesn’t require deep, meaningful and exhausting conversations every time. It doesn’t require barrels of laughs or buckets of fun. It doesn’t even require a perfect synchronicity.
It requires commitment. It requires you to back up your love for someone with actions. To pause in your busy life and take the time to care about someone else and their equally busy life. It requires apologies where they are due, and it requires forgiveness. Every time.
The reward is a true, golden, pure friend. A solid ally, a safe place, a human you can comfortably do life with.
As I write this, I know there are friendships in my life that I need to rejuvenate. Wires that need to be reconnected. How about you?