What is a friend?  I’ve always said and still say that my love and friendship are eternal.  It’s just the way I’m built, the way I am, the way I was brought up.  Unfortunately not everyone holds this to be true.  Someone once said that “Friendship is the golden thread that ties the hearts of people around the world.”  According to “Google,” a friend is a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

I say friendship is a relationship of unconditional love and respect that transcends time and space.  Those who presume that another person is a friend with no evidence of the aforementioned ideals is delusional.  Friendship Day celebrations take place on the first Sunday of August every year.  The tradition of dedicating a day in honor of friends began in the US in 1935.   All true FUNKIN friends know that friendship is everyday.  There are people you call friends and those that are associates, colleagues and acquaintances.  I write this in efforts to better define for myself and all taking time out to read this, the reality of the relationship, with those we have bestowed the title — to enlighten those who have yet to discover what true friendship really is.  It’s not always easy coming to the conclusion or facing the fact that a person, one once called a friend, no longer considers themselves to be a friend of yours, it hurts.  It hurts because an emotional investment has been made and now the sentiment is no longer reciprocal.  It especially hurts when one party has not been made aware by thought word or deed, prior to their realization, that the other party no longer has any vested interests in what was once considered a friendship.  There are instances where no harm is intended, however, like a break up there’s pain.  Life goes on and we make new friends, holding on to golden memories of friends that once were and those that are gone.

The first thing that pops up when googling the word friend(s), is the hit television show of the same name.  Ironically, currently on the cable network Showtime, are two former cast members of the “Friends” show.  Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc, both currently have shows on the network.  The other day I saw a promo that had LeBlanc calling Kudrow, asking her to do a cameo and/ or make an appearance on his show.  LeBlanc is asking Kudrow via telephone, only to soon realize she’s hung up.  This is indicative of the result of friendships of millions of people day after day, year after year, decade after decade.  Some people just hang (it) up, they stop “hanging in there.”  They just stop caring for one reason or another, who knows…  Some folks just decide that their friendship with certain people has run it’s course, is no longer valid or necessary.  This makes me sad because that’s never been my interpretation of friendship.  Some people have to re-prioritize their time in lieu of children, new loves and/ or careers, but that doesn’t mean that they no longer consider you a friend — or does it?  After all, with various life changes, come new people and new friends.  People choose their friends based on a certain lifestyle, some based on a way of thinking and others on a mutual belief regarding the quality of life.  These are true FUNKIN’ friends.  Connections that are not superficial based on position, wealth, status or ones association with others — or does it?

I was speaking to an ‘old friend’ recently.  We lost touch about ten years ago, but still consider each other friends.  I live in New York and they live in Los Angeles, but when we spoke, we were happy to connect.  We caught up and it was like very little time had passed, despite the actual lapse.  Although my friend was eager and happy to speak to me, they were not interested in speaking to the friend that actually introduced us, to each other.  “I don’t want to open that door yet,” was the sentiment expressed, due to tensions that existed between the two of them when they were last in each others company.  This is understandable, one is not always willing or emotionally able to engage another where levels of tension exists – I get it.  They were not saying that they had no interest in speaking with the other friend ever again, just not at this time in their life, or at least not today – “Maybe next week,” they said.  Yet, there was a sentiment that rang in their voice that they could potentially not speak to that person again, and be fine for the rest of their life.  Sometimes this course of action is necessary for an individual to get on with their life.  So what do you make of people who “drift apart” when they had no qualms or issues?  

Sometimes friends “grow apart” – now what does that mean?  Growing and Apart don’t even mesh, it’s an oxymoron.  Growth is represented by development, strength and nurturing, the word Apart means just the opposite.  Apart is symbolic of separation, being divided and removed from something, so to say people “grow apart” almost makes no sense.  But yet it does, in that, the friendship that once was, is now only becoming more and more estranged, distant, invalid and of no importance.  “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” – unless you’re trying to cut a mother*uck*r off.  Like all relationships, friendship is a mutually shared commitment and responsibility.  It’s a responsibility because once two people decide and/ or determine that they are friends, it’s on both parties to grow that relationship.  It can be work, but it should be easy.  So where am I going with this?  I think I’m already there, I believe I’ve expressed in no uncertain terms what I feel and believe a friendship is and what it’s supposed to be.  Perhaps you don’t see certain friends as often as one would like, but that doesn’t mean the friendship ends.  Perhaps two people don’t always agree on certain personal, political or religious choices, that doesn’t mean they can’t share the same space — or does it?  Actually, for many it does, but that’s a different interpretation of friendship for me.  We can grow from our differences if we’re not enemies.

One who has worked in entertainment for 25 years, a friend once told me “If you want a friend in this business, get a dog.”  Known for their loyalty and unconditional love, I thought that was good advice, I didn’t get one though.  While a dog can be a great companion, a dog can’t have a conversation with you or offer advice (like my friend) about life.  You can’t go to the movies or to dinner with a dog, because you have to go home to feed it.  Pets are precious to pet lovers, but pets are not people.  Pets go along with whatever you do because you’re providing and taking care of that animal.  Friends are fellow human beings, other beings you can be human with when you’re not in a position where you have to be someone other than who you truly are.  We all have to wear different hats in various aspects of life, take on and/ or present other aspects of ourselves while at work or in the company of certain associates.  Some people can be more of themselves with friends than they can with members of their own family.  Some people don’t have a filter in any environment.  There are some folks that find themselves in positions where they have to be and/ or portray an image or live up to a certain standard that’s expected in any given circumstance, pleasing their spouse or their parents.  There are fortunately people who are comfortable in their own skin to always be who they are.  A friend always knows the truth about another friend.  Some friends can have a full on conversation between themselves, while being in the midst of not being able to speak freely.  Friendship means never having to bite your tongue and the friend on the other side of the conversation fully understands and respects what you’re conveying without being offended.  Friendship is having an argument, agreeing to disagree and then breaking bread together, then sharing genuine laughter the rest of the night.

Friendship is encountering those who decide you’re worth the time, and feel that the time spent was effortless.  Once one finds spending time with another requires too much effort, the friendship is altered.  Does that mean that where two people once were can not be re-visited?  I don’t think so, but there are millions I’m sure that would disagree and millions of instances to the contrary.  Some people put faith into another person or collective of people, eventually coming to their senses when they’ve detached from that herd or group, realizing those folks were never their friends.  Some people just move on.  Some may say a person holding on to false hope is a fool, yet, often having hope in a “friend,” is what enables so many to simply continue living.  It’s not always that ones hope is based upon the actions of another, but it happens an awful lot.

So many have found friends and acquaintances of long ago on the social network that is Facebook.  While it phenomenal, it’s crazy how once you find some people, you remember why you stopped communicating so often with that “friend” in the first place – but it’s nice to see em, and not really have to.  I didn’t write this to necessarily draw any conclusions, but simply to define and express what friendship means to me and share it with any one up for a friendly perspective.  I wish all my friends were for always, but sometimes that’s just not the case.  Sometimes I’ll run into an old acquaintance or colleague that says “Do you still talk to…”, nine times out of ten the answer is yes, because the one asking obviously recognized when we were in more frequent correspondence, that my friendship with the one of which they speak, was a true FUNKIN’ friend.

That’s it I guess — words written to better help myself and others discern who are friends, and detach from those who are not.  My hope is that friends and friends of friends will find this and hopefully share it with a friend.  True friends and kindred spirits are never far apart and those that are truly friends, will always be.  In an era where violence and the cult of celebrity are paramount, the purity of friendship is essential.  “To all my friends” – Mickey Rourke/ “Barfly”



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