discovery #39

i don’t have a lot of friends

DISCLAIMER: to those readers who consider themselves my friends, please understand that this entry is an attempt at self-exploration and should not be taken personally.

i’ve been thinking a lot lately about what friendship really means and what being a friend actually entails. historically, i’d say i’m a person who has always had a lot of friends. if i look back to elementary school, i played on the playground, ran around with the neighborhood kids, and met new friends each summer on the swim team. high school was no different – a big group of us would hang out on the weekends, going to movies, slumber parties, dances. i joined a sorority my freshman year of college (don’t judge)…and automatically increased my number of friends by 50 in the span of a semester.

but if we’re talking about friendship, i cannot go on without paying respect to the one constant throughout all of these periods in my life. molly. to me, she is the definition of BFF. i don’t remember meeting her…my parents say i was probably five when we started playing at the pool one summer. i have never known a time when she was not my friend. (okay maybe a few times when we were roommates!) molly is a year older than me and the big sister i never had. she taught me everything i know about girl-power, living life to the fullest, and forgiveness.

she wrote me endless letters adorned with shiny stickers and drawings in the margins, over the three years my parents kidnapped me to australia. she was there through the perms, and instigated the unfortunate-matching-haircut-period. and she was the first person to tell me what really happens during childbirth (for this i will never forgive her). but she also made me a *fairy* godmother.

so when i think about my mally, then i suppose longevity is the key to the equation. friendship means a shared history, countless memories, a handful of stories to be used as blackmail if ever necessary. she is the only person i know—besides my mother—who would do anything for me. like say, fly into a hurricane-ravaged city six days following the storm, 6 months pregnant with twins, so she and my flower girl can sit front-row at my wedding. or giving up her house for a week so my family can crash during my sister’s funeral in our hometown. or driving all the way to texas from chicago with me in a rental car when i really needed to move back home.

so i suppose i have constructed what i think it means to be a friend. pretty big shoes to fill, eh? and over the years, most of the people i’ve labeled as such have failed miserably to satisfy these top two criteria. which got me thinking: what does it take to be my friend? and at what point do i need to end a friendship if certain standards aren’t being upheld? over the years i’ve ended several friendships, some by choice, others by circumstance. geographically, i have had friends all over the globe. although endlessly interesting and always exciting…very difficult to maintain. the classmates from my all-girls school in melbourne, flatmates from my international dorm at the university of east anglia, dozens of co-workers onboard the MS norwegian sky. sadly, all a distant memory…unable to withstand the test of time.

and the second category: those who couldn’t provide what i needed at the time i needed it most. i have learned that sometimes it is better to let a friendship go than suffer the consequences of trying to make it work. and sometimes i’m afraid, friendships are created out of convenience—or individual gain—like that girl in 7th grade with the really nice boat. but for me, it must be mutually beneficial. i must be giving to the relationship as much as i am receiving. and not in the same way mind you, and not always at the same time…but over the long run.

and if a friendship is really important to me, i’m even willing to give a little more, just to protect it. so when i really think about it…i’m okay with keeping my number of friends at a minimum, in order to maintain the integrity of the title. here's to matching sundresses and side ponytails!


  1. i have a few very deep friendships and they are for sure the most treasured. my best friend has been my friend since 5th grade and she went thru awkward stages with me, knows all of my family, remembers my mom with me, etc... like family, but i got to pick her myself!

  2. To have a good fiend, is to be a good friend! I love you! This made me laugh and cry. I have printed it out to put in the book you made me for my wedding.