In lots of ways, I know I’m a fantastic friend. I keep secrets like the grave, as long as I know it’s a secret! I can be really funny: if you need a laugh, I can generally provoke one. I don’t give advice (usually), unless you ask for it. And once I give my advice, if you choose not to take it, I’m not offended at all. Once you are a friend in my inner circle, I will do anything for you and I don’t need a reason. You want me to pick up a kid, bring you food, visit you in prison, whatever, if I can do it I will. I don’t require you to call me consistently, or talk to me every day (although I have a couple of friends I’m in daily contact with, as in: my inner circle). I’m generally pretty tolerant of your views even if they differ from mine: I can laugh and nod at your stories even if I find them personally odd or weird. Because hey, I’m not you. On the other hand, if you ask, I’ll tell you honestly what I think.
But then again, I’m also a terrible friend. Ask anyone who used to be my friend and now lives in a different city from me. (No, don’t. Too embarrassing.) I’m absolutely lousy at staying in touch. The only long-distance friends I can maintain are the ones who can let months or years go by with little to no contact and then pick up the phone and chat with me as though things are the same. I’m terrible with birthdays: If I try really hard I can remember your birthday month, and that’s even WITH Facebook’s help. I don’t do gifts: no Christmas gifts, no birthday gifts, no little surprises. I’m also really busy, which means I’m not nearly as available to my friends as I’d like to be. I can’t do spontaneous: all my friend dates are scheduled in advance. I avoid conflict, which means that sometimes my friends who would benefit from some constructive criticism don't get it. And I'm not good at remembering friends' family members (including kids) unless I'm around them all the time.
Now that I’m a working mom with an almost 4 year old, I’m very selective about my friendships. Maintaining my pre-baby friendships are challenging enough, although the people who were there for me the most are the ones I spend time with now. Making new friends is a challenge I’m not sure I’m even up for. After 40 years, I have a pretty full roster of friends at all levels.
And yet, friendship is probably one of the most important parts of my life. My friends are the ones who keep me going on down days. They are the ones who let me vent about my life, my extraordinary, amazingly fabulous life, without giving me guilt for complaining about blessings. They are the ones who bring food when I need it, or pick up my kid from school if necessary. They are the ones who pick me up from the airport and watch my cats and fulfill my need for intimacy with other women. I am richly blessed with friendships that I don't deserve.