Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Old Friends are the Best. But New Ones are Priceless.

These are my friends. I've known some of them since I was born. Some from preschool. And all through elementary. A couple have moved to other states and we all relish visits with them. They aren't in this picture, but we were so lucky to get all the locals together recently for lunch at my house.

Old friends are the best. Although I don't always see these women often, when we all get together I always feel a sense of belonging that I don't find anywhere else. These friends have stood by each other through 34 births, the deaths of parents and siblings, loss of jobs, health issues, parental struggles, and the problems of everyday life. I am so lucky to have them. They are caring, talented, beautiful wives and mothers. If every girl went through junior high and high school with a set of friends like this - the world would be a much happier place.

The problem is that many of us have stories like this - BFFs that we met when we were young. But how many of us live near these BFFs now? I was used to spending time with my friends every day. And then they got married, moved away, got their own lives - the nerve of them! Now I'm not one to make friends easily, but I've been looking for another BFF or two for years. And I've been lucky enough to find a couple - and then we moved away too.

So when I heard about the new book by Rachel Bertsche called MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend, I knew I had to read it. When I finally got my hands on it I started reading and pretty soon I realized it was a non-fiction book. Which was good news, since I always need to read more non-fiction. And while the book reads like a narrative most of the time, there was lots of facts & research dropped in too.

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search For A New Best Friend

Rachel moves to Chicago after she gets married and although she has plenty of acquaintances, she longs for that close relationship that she has with her old friends. She wants someone to call up & say, "what are we doing today?" Or someone to discuss books, celebrity gossip, and relationships with - preferably all at the same time. Someone to watch bad tv with, do yoga with, and maybe even some traveling. That's exactly what I want! You can see why I liked this book. Plus there's this quote:

The author, Ann Patchett says—”Here’s my idea of real intimacy. It’s not the person who calls to say, 'I’m having an affair’; it’s the friend who calls to say, ‘Why do I have four jars of pickles in my refrigerator?’ ” [Bertsche continues] I want someone with whom I can talk about the deep stuff—hopes and dreams  and expectations and disappointments—and also the minutiae. Sometimes it takes talking about everything to get to the place where we can talk about nothing.

Rachel Bertsche makes a plan to meet as many women as she can and to go on a "date" with a new person every week for a year. Fifty two new potential friends. She meets women eveywhere she can - blind dates arranged by mutual friends, want ads, joining clubs & groups, and even picking-up strangers. Rachel learns a lot about herself, her relationship with her husband, and makes a lot of new close-acquantainces. She concludes that sometimes the only thing between a close-acquaintance and a lifelong BFF is time. She ends up with five or six women that she can see becoming BFFs with over time.

After reading this book I learned a few new things too. I need to give people a chance. Sometimes I judge people too quickly - about if I will click with them, or if we have enough in common. I have realized that the narrow range I have in my head of my ideal friend really should really be wider. I also learned that one person doesn't have to be all things to me. Including my husband. I can have different friends that fill different roles for me. I will always be looking for that local BFF who wants to hang with me practically every day, but I am realizing that if I never find that I'll be okay. And that every new friend I make is priceless.