September 4, 2012

on friendship.

The best part about growing up in a small town is the inevitability of close, lifelong friendships. Glen Ellyn is called "The Village" for a reason: the sense of community — of connectedness — is overwhelming. Everything feels familiar. The Main Street shops are owned by family friends, you spot your kindergarten teacher at the post office, and you can't quite do errands without running into at least three people you know. The togetherness — it's a physical thing, too. On fall Saturdays, everybody migrates toward the high school football field to watch the games. On Sundays, everybody ends up at the neighborhood park. Fences are rare. Even the backyards blend together.

For me, that reality of lifelong connections has led to a clear, specific quality of friendship: namely, that it lasts forever. A sense of closeness, to me, comes from knowing anything and everything. From knowing each other's families and homes, from sharing meals and holidays and traditions. To me, the border between friendship and family is so thin and insignificant so as not to exist at all.

It's been interesting, then, to make friends later in life — to leave that small-town environment and try to establish forever with fresh faces. In college and ever since, I've found that I do everything I can to fill in the backstory between me and another person. My college friends could list all my clearest memories from elementary school, junior high, high school. They could call out every heartbreak, every small victory. There's not a name they wouldn't recognize, not a story they couldn't re-tell, and I could point out all of theirs, too, because that's the kind of friendship I love: where all the lines between yours and mine are blurred, where everything becomes shared even if it wasn't at the time.

Of course, that may not work for everyone. That sort of open-book, become-part-of-my-family kind of connection can sometimes feel like too much for a person. Truth is, I find that all-out familiarity comforting, though — as if building a forever is the only way. Or at least the truest.

I'd love to know: Do you feel the same? What defines your ideal friendship?

(Photo: Home | My Flickr)

5 comments:

Kayla Lynn said... [Reply to comment]

I feel very similar to you. Growing up in a small town as well created life-long friendships and established that pretty insigficant life between friends & family. It really is a wonderful feeling and I agree it's the purest form of a relationship :)

Allie said... [Reply to comment]

I feel EXACTLY the same. If I am going to get close with people I need to know their backstories and how they got to who they are today. I moved in 7th grade to a new city and always wished for that connection that I had with the people that have known me since before middle school. It's really hard for me to open up to new people if I don't know their story.

Laura Marie said... [Reply to comment]

You always get it! You're the best :)

Claire Kiefer said... [Reply to comment]

This is so sweet and beautifully-written. I'm the same way. I have very little interest in half-friendships or acquaintanceships or what have you. I want to know all the gritty details & I want to tell mine. In fact, I don't even know that I know HOW to keep a secret (of my own; I can do it for others). I hate feeling disconnected or distant or unclose from the people I truly love. And what better feeling is there than to truly & wholly connect with someone, spend all night talking, and develop your own little language?

Tina Byland said... [Reply to comment]

I loved this post! To be completely honest, I start out as a closed book in comparison to you. I'm really careful when it comes to letting people get that close to me. But, at the same time, those friendships I have that fill that familial need in my life, those are the friendships that keep me going every day. I consider those friends my family- and my family my friends. You are right. That border is rather nonexistent.