I got to thinking about “friends” and just what exactly does it take to either become one or have one or more. When I googled it, the following definition came up.
“A friend is a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations”. That is kind of a dried out version of what a friend truly is.
When I think back over my life, there have been many, many friends some more “friendly” than others. I am not talking about sexual relationships as that has nothing to do with friendship and can be engaged in by complete strangers. No, I am talking about a bond that is formed when two or more people find that they have a lot in common and enjoy each others company. Some of these friendships may only last for a short time, others last for months and even years or are renewed after any form of absence of time.
When I was a young kid growing up in England eighty odd years ago, my circle of friends consisted of all of the kids that lived on the same street on a hill, that I did. Even to this day, I can recall their names. There was John Holman who was afflicted with asthma and was often sick, David Farmer and his younger sister, Tony Waite and Ivy and Radford Upfield plus a couple of others whose names I don’t recall. We were all about the same age and went to the same school walking the three miles there and back every day, regardless of the weather. When one got sick with mumps or chicken pox or any of the typical childhood ailments of the time, we all got sick and would pass notes to each other via the local travelling Nurse that attended us. When I say travelling, she rode her bike everywhere and never did own a car.
I also had another friend, Dennis Baker who lived in Cade Street, a mile down the road and he was more of a buddy than the others. We would spend our time mostly in the woods or fishing in the local ponds. Sometimes we would fall out over whatever bothered us at the time and would resort to scrapping or in one case, he even threw a rock at me hitting me in the back as I was running away. Even after that, we were still friends. Dennis himself had an interesting life in the few short years that I knew him. His Father was a Gamekeeper in one of the local Estates and he would let us go fishing in one of the big lakes on the property. Dennis unfortunately lost his Mother to a motor vehicle accident when she was struck from behind as she walked along the road right outside of her house. Very sad. Dennis was never quite the same after that.
Time moved on as did my life as I moved from place to place and wherever I ended up, there was always that special person that stood out above the others in my book and we would hit it off. Unfortunately, because I moved around a lot as a kid, I kept having to make new friends which is easy enough when you are young but that doesn’t give you much of an opportunity to have lasting friendships. I did learn how to make friends very quickly.
For me, over the years, there has always been that special person out of the crowd who I liked to hang out with. There is a big difference in knowing a lot of people like I did when I was an active soccer player, whole teams worth of players at a time who you knew by name and who you kicked on a regular basis but who were not necessarily special. In truth, there have only been a few people in my life that I could really call my friends. Lots of acquaintances, very few friends.
I do have one special friend that I met on the soccer field who is from the Old Country. George was a professional soccer player back in England from way back when and came over to play in the original NASL, eventually retiring from the game and remained in the country. We met on the soccer pitch and immediately hit it off and have remained friends for many years. We spent a lot of our time drinking beer and chasing women as the saying goes before eventually, he won the heart of a very nice lady, Gloria, and they lived together for quite a while before having a difference of opinion as is the ways of human nature and both going their own way again. George earns his living as a Professional soccer coach working with young kids. We have not had contact for a couple of years but if and when we do, it will be just like old times except I don’t down the pints or drink like I used to. A DWI will do that to you. That’s what true friendship is all about.
Life goes on, thank goodness, and is constantly changing especially in this day and age. We live in a mobile society with everyone on the go and even if you live in one place for thirty six years as I did, none of my neighbors were friends in the true definition of the word. I knew them all and we always stopped to talk and visit when the opportunity arose but each of us led our own lives with our own families as is the way of the world. Any friends that I had, and there were a few were from playing soccer or belonging to organizations like the AMSA and the Local Pond Society and such. As time progressed and my interests changed, my circle has diminished to just a few people who I consider to be my active friends.
Looking back over the years, I have been very fortunate to have known a lot of people. I have been married three times and divorced three times and at the time, those women were my best friends in the whole world and I still correspond with my first albeit youthful, true love. Part of my problem is that I am a bit of a loner and am used to not having people in my life. I have been blessed with other friendships along the way which through time and circumstance have all faded into history. I have a couple of people that I call my special friends today and I know will be there if and when I need them even as I embark on this, probably my last great adventure. True friendship cannot be measured nor does it need explanation or reason. It is just there.
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