|This is me and my best friend since 3rd grade...and my husband, pretending he doesn't know us :)|
Due to a variety of reasons (my eccentricities, reclusive nature and social anxiety, to name a few) making friends has been difficult for me.
For most of my childhood I only had one or two real human friends. The rest were cats...or imaginary. Still, my friendships, though few, were good. One has been my best friend since 3rd grade and the other recently got back in touch.
In high school things were a little better. Instead of being ashamed of my strangeness, I flaunted it. I got a few friends from that as well as some acquaintances. In small towns all the outcasts are thrown together, so our group was comprised of 3 goths, 4 stoners, 2 gays, and a handful of brave nerds. Oh, there were some adventures. But high school is also the usual scene for sex, drugs, violence, and suicide to come on the scene. I lost some friends to meth. Some friends lost me to boyfriends. I lost a boyfriend to meth. Of that ragtag group, only 4 remain. I see them rarely, but think of them often.
Then, adulthood, jobs, marriage and a kid came along... no time for friends there. Only books and my imagination sustained me. Then, just as I began to venture out socially to the real world, the marriage ended. No time for friends yet again in the struggle to put my life back together. I always did things alone. I didn't want others getting in the way, worrying...or worse, getting caught in the crossfire.
But then I fell in love again....and I went to college for not only full time, but double time (22 credits per semester)...AND my love has 2 kids, so my parental obligations tripled. Yet due to a happy discovery, I somehow found the time to make some friends. That happy discovery was the Powder River Saloon. Yeah, I know that makes me sound like a barfly, but really since I only went there once a week and always went home to my man I think the term doesn't qualify. My friends there helped me get through college, cheering me on all the way through. They helped me get through the loss of my career. They comforted me after the death of my mother. They are still applauding the success in my writing career. None read romance novels, but many will read mine because I'm a friend. All of my books will include a shout out to the Powder River.
The journey continued. After the death of my mother, I finally got a laptop and discovered the internet. An Lo and Behold....I made friends online. The community of fellow writers...and fellows of other interests...still astounds me. The help and support I've received and that I've been able to give in return is amazing.
If you haven't noticed the pattern yet, I'll point it out. Both my bar friendships and online friendships can be distant in their own ways. At the bar...it's always at the bar. Online, the same applies. It is all on MY terms. If I don't go to the bar on Friday, or get online, I don't see my friends.
But...in the past year, something crazy has happened. I've begun to make friends in real life. Friends not relegated only to the clicking of my keyboard or my dim smoky haven in my end of town. I've made friends IN PERSON with a few romance authors in my area. We all write and have husbands, kids, etc. I'm rediscovering "girl talk" for the 1st time in over a decade!
And now I'm starting to make more new friends. Friends who sing, friends who do crafts, friends who cook, friends who share secrets, friends who drink, friends who don't, friends who accept me for who I am.
I may be a little late to learn this, but I still feel I have the right to say: Friends are priceless.
I value all of my friends, old and new. Thank you for making my life better.