From ‘The Crowded Street’ by Winifred Holtby:
Martin Elliott smiled at her. ‘Have you found that too? Don’t you think about the books in most circulating libraries that they are nearly all the wrong way round. Short stories with happy endings and long stories with sad ones. Quite wrong.’
‘Ah, surely the short story should end with tragedy, for only sorrow swoops upon you with a sudden blow. But happiness is built up from long years of small delightful things. You can’t put them into a short story.’
Today’s prompt for the Post-A-Day challenge is: How do you define the word friend?
I read the passage quoted above early this morning, before I’d seen the prompt, and it made a profound impact on me. It’s true, really, happiness can come in fleeting blitzes; but, ultimately, it’s a multi-layered thing.
And so, with a repost from July last year, to the topic of friendship.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
I’ve always had a bit of a problem with the concept of a ‘Best Friend’. So many people pass through our lives at different times, in different circumstances, and each fulfills a unique and memorable role in the constantly changing ‘who’ that we are at any given moment.
There are those jealously guarded school attachments, shared secrets of crushes and the dizzy excitement of preparing for dances. Heartbreaks, disdain of fuddy-duddy parents and overindulgence in chocolates which necessitates hours of shared face packs. Despite heartfelt promises on the last day of school to write every day, new university friends are made and the school pals are eventually relegated to a clutch of fading polaroids.
Then comes the real world and the workplace; you’re flung in amongst people you’d perhaps not have in your home. But there is the common field of reference and you find that you side with someone against the tyrant who is your boss, that you both laugh at the silliness of pompous language. A memo containing ‘paradigm shift’ or ‘intrinsic strategic positioning’ can have you both rolling on the floor with laughter, to the bemused stares of others in the office. When you leave the company, this friend will handmake a card for you that you will frame and keep on your wall for ever, because it speaks volumes about the many years of private jokes between the two of you:
Your honesty, integrity and commitment to staying at the leading edge of marketing communication could put you in line to win an XXX Raising The Bar Award.
But your sluttish behaviour, habitual substance abuse and persistent use of expletives has earned you a Raising The BRA Award.
Jolly well done, we’ll miss you Luvvie!
With a successful marriage comes years of accrued observations and events; the physical proximity leads to a relationship in which so many things can be left unsaid. It’s an unparalleled concord and probably the closest one I would consider for the term ‘Best Friend’.
Mature friendships, gained and grown in later life are truly above rubies. The wealth of accumulated knowledge and experience that can be enjoyed over a cup of coffee or a bottle (or six) of wine is joyful beyond words. Shared parenthood trials and tribulations, love of the arts; literature, music and humour, these are the rewards that come with the advance of age.
Enriching? Hell yes, I’ve been – and continue to be – incredibly lucky.