From Dr. Jane's Notebook
Friendship is an essential ingredient in life. It makes the difference between feeling
lonely or feeling part of things. Whether one is trying to adapt to life in a new town,
adjusting to a new job or trying to establish a social life, friends are the support beams
in the structure of our lives.
Judith Viorst is one of the outstanding writers of our time. She is a poet, a
psychoanalyst, and has written books that address a variety of life stages. One early
book, It's Hard to be Hip over Thirty and other tragedies of Married Life caught my
attention many years ago. More recently, she wrote a very fine non-fiction called
Necessary Losses, in which she describes different types of friendships. In the effort to
understand our friendships and the roles that different people play in our daily dramas,
it seems fitting to share her thoughts on the matter.
- Convenience Friends. These are the friends with whom we work, carpool,
or share the same neighborhood. Our lives intersect with theirs at frequent intervals, and
we know that we could call on them 'in a bind'. These are valuable friends of mutual aid,
but guarded emotions. As Viorst says, "we might speak of being overweight, but not
depressed" or "admit to being mad, but not blind with rage".
- Special Interest Friends. These are the friends with whom we do
activities. We may see them at meetings, play sports with them, or participate in some
regular event. These relationships depend on specific interests that are shared at the
time. These friendships give rise to a sense of companionship, but lack genuine closeness
- Historical Friends and Crossroad Friends. These are the friends that we
knew back when... These are the friendships that mark specific eras of our lives, and with
whom we shared crucial experiences and special intimacies. These are the friendships that
lie dormant in the past, but which are ready to be revived with holiday cards or phone
calls. These are friends that shared a sacred part of our past, but who are no longer part
of our daily lives.
- Cross-Generational Friends. These are the friendships that form across
generations, where the "younger enlivens the older, and the older instructs the
younger". These are the special relationships where friends serve as confidantes and
mentors, where we open our hearts and learn from each other.
- Close Friends. These are the few friends with whom we share our deepest
feelings and truths. These are the friends with whom we stay in touch by seeing each
other, by phone or by mail. These are the friends in whom we trust and see their 'better'
qualities. We have faith in their abilities, and are quick to support them rather than
criticize. This is the place in our lives where we can freely share our fears and
mistakes, and count on their acceptance of us.
As Judith Viorst describes... "Rosie is my friend. She likes me when I'm dopey and
not just when I'm smart"... "Michael is my friend. He likes me when I'm grouchy
and not just when I'm nice. I worry alot about werewolves, and he understands..."
Further... "Rosie would try to save me if there was a tidal wave. She'd hunt for
me if kidnappers stole me away. And if I were never found again, she could have my
Instamatic. She is my friend"..."If Michael told me a secret and people clonked
me and bopped me, I wouldn't tell what Michael's secret was...And then if people said
'speak up or we'll feed you to the piranhas', Michael would forgive me for telling his
Friends come in all shapes, sizes and species. If your friend-census is down a bit,
look harder for your friends from the past or new friends in the present. They may also be
looking for you.
ęCopyright, 1991, 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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Last Updated November 14, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon,