A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Friends

Posted by Pepper on March 15, 2012

The word has a different meaning for different people. I use it rather sparingly. At one time, I would go a step ahead and say “I have only two friends”. The friends here, being the 2 BFFs. My relationship with them is what defined the word ‘friendship’ for me.  So I really didn’t think anybody else fit my idea of what I called ‘friend’.

I met BFF # 1 in school. A common love is what brought us together. We were in Std 9th. We would both sit on the last bench, hide our novels under our textbooks, alert each other if a teacher happened to pass by and generally have a good time. Soon we started meeting after school hours and became thick pals. We introduced our sisters, and from then on, we traveled all over Bombay with our little sisters in tow. So much so, that when we reached grade 10th, our parents were worried about the time we spent chit chatting with each other. We knew each other’s family really well, including our respective cousins, aunts, and other relatives. When after grade 10th we had to go to different colleges, we wondered how we would have the same amount of time for each other. But what do you know, we continued hanging out the same way. Till date, it hasn’t changed.

I met BFF # 2 in college. We lived really close to each other, and our regular commute by train is what really brought us close. Slowly, we started spending time in each other’s houses. Our families become friends thanks to us. We went to college together, studied together, did our projects together, hung out in the evening together and got acquainted with each other’s families. Before I knew it, she was elevated to ‘best friend’ status. At this point, I was confused.  BFF # 1 was still my BFF.  Can a person have two best friends? I didn’t think so. Eventually though, I convinced myself that it is really possible.

No other person came close to these two BFFs. Like I said, I started telling the world I had only 2 friends. The rest were my ‘hang out buddies’. Slowly, I started realising that my definition of the word ‘friend’ had to expand. There were a lot of folks who were more than mere hang out buddies. I then started including a handful of other people and called them ‘friend’.

Even so, I always thought I had very few friends. Maybe 6 or 7? I am very stingy and don’t use that word easily. The rest, still fell into the ‘hang out buddy’ category. Is it just me, or is it really hard to make true friends after a certain age? While you are younger, there is a certain innocence that facilitates bonding and friendship. Now, I am always conscious of what I speak. I make sure I maintain some distance, because adults don’t like others stepping into their personal territory. The limitations, boundaries and expected code of conduct make it extremely hard to cross a certain level. As I grow, the number of people I know and hang out with increases, but the number of friends I have remains constant.

Now when it is time for me to leave this place, I look back to think of the number of people I will miss. I did have quite a few ‘hang out buddies’, but *very* few ‘friends’. In fact, when I moved to the Bay Area from Ohio sometime in 2010, I will say I had no friend. Of course, I talk about my definition of ‘friend’. And then she came along. She left a comment on my blog one day, saying she was a lurker. I followed the link to her blog, and left another comment saying,  “Are you telling me we live in the same desi town? Aka the Bay Area..? Are you still here..? And you had the audacity to lurk on my blog? Come on out, I can do with some friends”. That was sometime in early 2011.

She sent me an email, and after a few months of coordination and planning, we finally had a chance to meet. I liked her almost instantly. She brought along one of her home baked goodies for us. It was some wonderful chocolate flavoured banana bread, along with a note that said “Cheers to a new friendship!”. Soon, we started chatting daily, and then moved to phone calls and meetings that got more regular as time went by. When I look back at the fun we’ve had in all this time, I smile.

I can without any hesitation, call her a ‘true friend’. She’s been there, all along. She’s that girl pal with who I would enjoy my Friday dates, hit the mall, demand one of her famous chocolate cakes, explore restaurants, snuggle up on her couch and watch tv. If she went to the farmers market and saw some interesting stuff, she’d pick it up for me too. She is the one I stayed with while Mint was away, and I would wake up to freshly made ginger tea every morning. Oh did I say her tea is to die for?

It felt like I have known her for ages. That is the impression I lived with. A few weeks ago, we were at a salon. I was getting my hair cut. The lady who was working on my hair asked us how long we’d known each other. I had not really thought about that. Before I could respond, she said “a little less than a year”. That was a revelation to me too! Less than a year? Really? And when I back tracked, I realised she was right. We met for the first time in April last year. Or was it May? We’ve sure come a long way, in such a short time. When I think of the friends I will miss, she features on the top . The Bay Area would never have been the same without her.

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6 Responses to “Friends”

  1. Of late I have realized that I have very few friends, I mean who is very close to me, rest all are as you said hang out friends.

    We will miss you too Pepper , but I hope you continue to write. I was waiting to meet you when you come to Portland. May be we will meet sometime somewhere in India.

  2. sub said

    “My relationship with them is what defined the word ‘friendship’ for me. So I really didn’t think anybody else fit my idea of what I called ‘friend’.”

    This sentence makes so much sense coz I don’t believe that friendship can be defined to begin with. People just come along to give new dimensions and perspective to the word.

    Thank you for the post 🙂

  3. hAAthi said

    Such an awwww post, this one is 🙂

    But OMG I so totally get what you said earlier. I have always, right through my life, been able to count my closest friends on one hand. Everyone outside of that falls into the nice-to-hang-out-with, or acquaintances-i-know-well categories. And yes, I also use the words “good friends” very stingily. It IS harder for me to make friends as I grow older and I wonder if it is something I can change about myself, yet I dont find that I do much about it.. Hows the run up to India going?

  4. DI said

    I had the same issue in life. So much so that I think I always maintained my one best friend status. Others were, well, acquaintances I was ok spending time with.
    Also, I always believed you can only be true friends if you have known them for long, and never can you make a good friend after a particular age. Surprisingly, my closest friend today is someone I met thanks to work, and that is downright weird! We got along from the word go, and ended up sharing an appartment for 2 years. And now, even when she is not in the same country, I just HAVE to tell her everything first, even when I am trying a new shampoo! You should see our mail trails! 🙂
    Bottom line being, yep you do miss the ‘best friends’ when you move away, but somehow, distance ceases to matter and they just stay as close!

  5. yaadayaada said

    Well, tell me about it!! The bay area has been hell since BFF R2Ied!! The silver lining is I am meeting her in 10 days!! 🙂 Good Luck with your move!

  6. Ashwathy said

    Where did my comment go? 😦

    I was just saying that you do not realize it when a person goes on to become a close friend or an integral part of your life – without you becoming even aware of it. And sometimes such relationships last a lifetime!

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