The most difficult type of relationship to maintain throughout one’s life is not necessarily the one you share with your significant other but the one you share with quality life-long friends. Let's be honest, what really came first? The husband or the friend, and just like any romantic endeavour, friendships require a maintenance plan if they are ever to survive the harsh consequences of life-changing events such as marriage, children and international relocation. A pig-tailed pinkie promise is nowhere near as binding as a bond agreement or birth certificate, and sometimes, the path you thought you were destined to travel together suddenly takes a turn for the worst.
There's nothing like the holiday season to catch up with what Charlotte would call your "lifies". A collection of fabulous friends that have been there for you through thick and thin and will continue to pull through no matter how much life may try to tear you apart. Just like the sweet nuptials we undertake at matrimony, they're the ones who'll most likely stick around for better or worse, through sickness and in health, till death do you part. It's a beautiful rarity to have just one of these precious connections let alone a solid handful, especially in this day and age of hustle and bustle where we can easily forget to make the time and effort for those dear to us. So when a series of events takes place that could possibly derail this lifelong union, isn't it natural for us to freak out at the slightest bit of compromise?
So much change in such a short period of time. The world as I knew it had suddenly changed only three years ago when one of my longest and dearest friends told me that she was expecting her first child. It wasn't hard to convince the masses that the sudden spurt of tears trickling down my cheeks were tears of joy and not tears of mourning. Was this the last time I would see of my care-free, spontaneous friend as I knew her? Would she change beyond recognition? Although I had only seen her a handful of times that previous year, our friendship was always solid and based on quality, not quantity. She was the ray of sunshine that always offered the most brutal honesty with a balance of positive reinforcement. Was I about to lose her forever to a world of wet wipes and baby-proofing, a world that I had absolutely no understanding or desire to be part of (for now at least)?
Exactly one year later to the day, Gem had floated in on cloud nine and announced that her boyfriend of two years had popped the question. "It's going to be an Autumn wedding in 2015! We're so excited!" Again, tears began to fill my eyes as I felt the only words that one can say in such an instance escape my mouth..."Congratulations! I'm so happy for you!". Lies! In the back of my mind I thought a big bad wolf was about to steal my precious red away from me forever. She was my person, my Red, my Meredith. My dark and twisty relationship based on the commonality of being deviant Catholics. No one could understand the bonds of guilt and repression the way she did and it was this essence that kept us so closely knit. "Nothing's going to change! I promise." #sadface
A few days later, my raven-haired soul sister from another mister had said "Yes" to her perfect other. While the man in question was definitely a grower, the light he had brought back into her life was priceless. It wasn't long before those fucking tears come pouring down again like clockwork. I realised that this would probably happen at every life-altering event that I found myself part of and let's face it, this was just the beginning. It's not that I wasn't genuinely happy for them, because I was, but the irrational fear of losing my precious ones to a life of domestic complacency was something I hadn't given much thought to. I felt them dropping like flies and the only thought going through my head at the time was Freddy Mercury's toe-tapping-finger pointing hook..."dun! dun! dun! Another one bites the dust!"
Every single one of my thirty-young life partners were getting married or starting families or at the very least thinking about it. Why hadn't I? Was I defective in this department? Had I missed a step in the natural chain of evolution or was I maybe just jumping to the extreme that everyone changes for the worst once they settle down? Did it conflict with what I wanted out of life? Just when I thought I had reached a state of balance, I found myself caught between the present and the past, not knowing which way to turn. Was I subconsciously yearning for that type of stability and commitment myself in hopes of rejoining the rat-race of pre-nups and procreation or was I starting to doubt the comfort of remaining constant?
A recent rendezvous with three ghosts of Christmas past had offered a much needed break from all the showers and ceremonials that had recently taken place in my life. It had been nearly ten years since the original vipers of the Sea Point snake-pit had reunited underneath a full moon and apart from some obvious physical changes, they were all still very much the same. Vivaciously living the dream of commitment-free lives, they certainly put the "art" in party. As I had become somewhat of a prude amongst a bunch of rambunctious raconteurs, I asked the waitress to seat us as far away as possible from regular civilians as I am sure the details of our sordid shenanigans (which came out in full force) would most certainly offend even the most open-minded patron.
On the one hand it had been refreshing to see that nothing much had changed. No matter how ludicrous and salacious (and sometimes completely embellished and fabricated) their wild stories were, I would always see past the smoke and mirrors into the depths of their contorted souls. While it would have been counter- productive to regress into my past ways, I found solace in an unlikely source and was beginning to feel slightly less anxious about the fact that I was neither married nor parented. By offering a completely alternative insight and providing a contrast to the life choices that so many of my current friends were beginning to adopt, I felt more at ease with myself knowing that I was somewhere, consciously swaying in the middle.
Friendships, like relationships, are very much a
two-way street and requires effort from both sides. The things that we believe in are essentially the things worth keeping, and sometimes this means losing a precious one along the way. While
personal evolution is different and necessary for each and every one
us, it can sometimes leave us strained and disconnected. Unfortunately, there's
nothing you can do about it other than
adapt and gain a greater sense of understanding for each others respective life
choices. We're not always going to be on the same page
and we won't always want the same things out of life, but if you remember the things that made you soul mates in the beginning, you might just have a shot in the dark.
When it comes to besties and lifies, how do we stay close without compromising too much of our current selves?