In a blog response, I found myself trying to make sense of a concept that most of us probably believe we have a keen understanding of, but in my case at least I know that I do not. The questions asked were "What is friendship? and What is a friend?" Deceptively simple, these questions. I am pretty sure I have the answer I want, but at the same time I've spent much of my lifetime searching for it and pushing it away that not everything I believe may be the perfect truth.
See, the problem with me is the Wall (yes, I capitalize it in my mind) that I built within myself early in my life to prevent anyone from discovering my Secret (another capital). I knew that I was a little girl, but I also knew what would happen if anyone else ever found out. I mean they already bullied and beat me enough and they thought I was a boy. So imagine. So up went the Wall, and no one could really get close enough to know me well enough to figure it out. Not even my siblings. Not even my parents. I just did not share myself. And the serious downside of that, I discovered much later, is that friends share themselves. Without the willingness to do so, it's pretty much impossible to make a real friend.
After my transition, after I tore down that Wall, I tried to make real friends. However, I discovered that I had simply never learned the social skills needed to do so because I had spent my whole life hiding away from them. To my chagrin, now that I really wanted to, I simply couldn't do it.
But I still think I understand the nature of what friendship is. It does begin, as I said, with sharing, but it is so much more than that. The bond between friends is one that means that they truly care about the events of each others' lives. They care about each others' families, joys and pains, and they share in the happiness and the sorrow, provide support when it is needed and laughter as much as the universe allows. Friendship is a bond that unites people who may or may not share common characteristics, but who have been brought together for some reason and have discovered that they enjoy each others' company. It takes some time to forge and has to be nurtured, but it does last.
A true friend supports you no matter what happens. He's the one who laughs at your stupidest jokes. She is willing to drop everything and come over if you need her or give you a ride when your car breaks down. He listens to you when life is falling apart even when he'd rather be watching the football game. She brings meals to your house when you are ill. He smiles and engages with your children when they are being annoying while he's visiting. She doesn't expect anything in return when she does you a favor.
Friends are the ones you can call when you have last-minute tickets to the ballgame and they will drop everything and join you and you'll all have the greatest time. Friends are the ones who stay at your house until it's way too late because no one wants the party to end. Or they are the ones who know when it's time to leave because you're getting tired.
Friends are something I have. But the kind of deep friendships I have described? I can only dream about those.