Friends sometimes lead to headaches. I’m having one right now, aftermath of a lovely bi-annual meeting with my ex-schoolmates.
The headache, in my case, comes as a result of over-indulgence in rich food and drink, and quite a bit of merriment. But there is a bigger, more insidious headache at play when it comes to friends and friendships – a dull, quiet throb that has the potential to morph into a raging migraine.
The difficult thing about friendships is that nagging intangibility of all. What does a friendship mean; what does it count for? Are we a gathering of people who happen to make each others’ acquaintances and who also happen to think well (more or less) of each other? Some may say that friends are those who will “stand up for you”, “be there when you need them” – but really, all that counts for chickenshit. Firstly not everyone can stand up/ be there/ whatever other dependence-encouraging formation of verbs for their friends, all the time. Is a friend, for instance, morally obligated to listen to someone blubber for hours, not for the first time, about a topic that any sane, functioning adult should have already resolved (an old breakup, the same problems at work, an ongoing dissatisfaction with one’s choice of romantic partner)? Friends would treat each other with kindness; using friends as emotional crutches on the other hand, is another matter, further complicated by vastly varying tolerance levels for emotional-crutchery.
Friends are also a lot of fucking work. Maintaining a friendship necessitates meeting-ups, saying suitable things to each other, remembering special occasions, and the occasional (hopefully) emotional-crutchery. Functioning harmoniously and effectively around other humans is hard work.
Perhaps I am overthinking this whole friendship matter. Perhaps what a friend is, and what friendship is, amounts to a fun, uncomplicated evening spent in the company of people whose history you know, and who knows your history, and yet, collectively, you all still wish to spend that evening with each other and enjoy yourselves doing so.