This past weekend CNN did a special (Friends Forever) on the Friends TV show to mark the 25th anniversary of its first airing. My kids (especially my daughter) watched “Friends” religiously every Thursday night when she was a teenager, and loved it. I, too, often tuned in and soon had a favourite character (Rachel) and particularly enjoyed the Thanksgiving episodes. Like many of us, I found the end of Friends was the end of an era (although of all the sitcoms on air at that time I think it had the best finale). Thankfully, the sitcom lives on as it is enjoying an extremely successful run on Netflix finding a new following of young viewers. My two older grandsons have watched the entire 10 seasons…at least once, perhaps even twice! Watching an episode every now and then, I marvel at how well this half-hour comedy about six friends has held up over time. It’s timeless!
That led me to think about personal friendships and how one never outgrows true friends…..
A worldly (older) woman once told me how important it was to have friends from every age group. It didn’t think much of it at the time, but as I reflect on my incredible circle of friends, I realize she was right. I believe the right people come into your life when you are open to accepting them. In my lifetime, I have been blessed with truly, fabulous friends.
I remember well the girls that I met when I moved to a new neighbourhood at the ripe age of five. At that time, our world was much smaller, our mothers rarely allowed us to venture too far off our own block. Lucky for me, I had two friends who lived just down the street. We went to school together all the way from Elementary to High School. One of these girlfriends was a bridesmaid at my wedding. Even today, many years later, we get together for lunch to celebrate birthdays and catch up.
Another talented woman and forever friend enrolled in the same Fashion Retailing college course as me. We fortuitously met on the first day of class. Returning back to school as an adult student, I was feeling outside my comfort zone; I soon learned she was too. From then on, we were inseparable. After college, the two of us formed our own decorating company and worked closely on most projects preferring to collaborate than work independently. Many years have passed since then, but we still get together regularly for coffee and share the same love of travel, fashion and decorating.
During the next phase of my life, I worked with an amazing, funny, creative woman in retail. We often travelled together on buying trips, sharing a hotel room and endless laughter. Although it was her business, she was always so generous by including me in the decision making and planning. This was the seed of my own career as a home decor retailer. Unfortunately, she has moved to another province and, although I miss seeing her, she continues to be a dear, dear friend.
Working in retail has given me an opportunity to meet many wonderful women…not only those who have shopped in the store (who I now have had the opportunity to see socially and consider friends) but those who worked with me. I have learned so much from these young women who were always there for me…making the energy in the store positive and light-hearted. Their youth and vitality added a new layer to the store, and often it was me learning from them…not the other way around! These young women are flourishing in new adventures, but we still manage to get together whenever the opportunity presents itself. We are friends…
Later on, another remarkable woman has found a special place in my life. I can’t imagine a week going by without having lunch just to catch up. Although we share a passion for gardening and home decor (she is brilliant at designing and organization), and our much-loved dogs, we have so many other interests to explore…and thankfully we share the same politics! This has definitely been the soft landing I needed after the store closed, and for all these priceless conversations, I will be forever grateful.
An unexpected bonus in my life has come from a group of women who just happened to live down the block from me…just like when we were kids! While I was working, I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know my neighbours (unlike my mom’s generation where the neighbour ladies were her social network). Over lunches, this unlikely foursome has grown into a wonderful friendship. Because our life experiences have been so different, we all bring something unique to the table, making for interesting, thought-provoking conversation and laughter…
We often don’t consider our immediate family as a part of our friend circle. Over the past few years, I have come to appreciate my siblings more and more. Dealing with an ageing parent requires the support of everyone. I also see them in a different light, a friendly one. With a shared history, we now count on each other…not like that scrappy environment we often found ourselves in when we were growing up!
After many years of marriage, my spouse is now a forever friend. This is the reward for getting through all the trying times that every marriage goes through. And the very best friend lottery…that period in time when you are no longer parenting your children, and they have not started parenting you…we are friends!
If you are lucky in life, you have a best friend. If we are really, really fortunate, you have met people at times in your life when you really need them. By all accounts, I have hit the jackpot! I can’t imagine a life without my friends…it makes growing older together so much easier.
PS By now you will recognize that I really love “Winnie the Pooh”!