December 16 – Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?
I think I’m going to take some liberties with this prompt. My circle of friends has undergone some radical reconstruction in the past couple of years and my perspective on the world hasn’t been changed by just one person but by several persons.
If you ask my mom, she may or may not tell you about the year I was in 6th grade where she literally went all “mad black woman” on my female classmates at some middle school event. In retrospect, the whole scene was pretty hilarious and I can’t even really remember what sparked the outburst. My gut tells me that it had something to do with where the other girls were or were not sitting in relation to myself. I’m sure everyone can remember those lunchroom quibbles that ultimately devolved into tears as someone was told “oh, that seat is saved”. The whole event ended with a meeting with the principal and our teachers in the school chapel where we probably discussed tolerance, the “golden rule”, and other related Christian values. I was pretty mortified at the time, but it felt good to have my mom stand up for me. She’s good at taking one for the team.
Then there was the drama of high school where my entire group of friends was split down the middle as if we were reliving the great schism of the Catholic church when one girl accused me of lusting after her crush. It was at the time, and still is, debateable as to whether or not this boy was even heterosexual. I was friends with this boy by way of another mutual friend but had no romantic designs on him whatsoever. And despite a strongly-worded email to her, from him, on my behalf, she never spoke to me after sophomore year. The teenage female heart is hardly rational. And again, the drama led me to yet another meeting; this time with said classmate and the guidance counselor where the issue was never resolved. To further add insult to injury, this classmate’s mother was my English teacher and adviser to the only extracurricular activity that I really loved. Good grief!
I didn’t fair much better in college. My freshman year roommate and I seemed to never get along and, again, the sentiments between the two of us divided our entire floor. I never felt that warm-fuzzy feeling portrayed by the cast of 90210 or Saved by the Bell that one gets when surrounded by their best, true-blue buddies. There were always one or two confidantes, but they never seemed to truly stick if the going got rough or life changed in any significant way. The one friend I managed to make it out of Barnard with, stopped speaking to me shortly after my dad died without warning and for no discernible reason. It just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
When I returned to Philadelphia post-Barnard, I was so distraught that my mom suggested I adopt a kitten to keep me company. My father then adopted a second kitten for me thinking that not only did I need another buddy, but so did kitty #1. By 23, I was a fully-fledged cat lady.
The story becomes remarkably brighter, though. By participating in various activities, taking classes, and enrolling in nursing school, I started adding non-furry friends to my life. And these people, these people are keepers. They’ve changed my perspective on the world because I’ve come to know what genuine, unconditional friendship feels like. They remember my birthday, they don’t stop talking to me if we quarrel, they appreciate handknit gifts, they’ve introduced me to new foods, places, and experiences. I’ve also been forced to look at the world through different lenses to consider different perspectives on politics, love, religion, social justice, etc. I know that I am supported and accepted and challenged. The changes have been gradual and I’m still learning what it means to be a good, supportive friend, but I’m pleased that I can stop looking for friendship at the PetSmart adoption center.