I can't remember what made me start to ponder this one, but the more I have, the more significant it seems to have become.
I realised that I know quite alot of people. Ofcourse, just recognising a face in the school playground, or in Tesco barely makes an acquaintance, but then, there appears to be a fine line between acquaintance and a huge difference between friend and good friend.
I see acquaintances all the time, most days infact. We'll nod and say hello, perhaps exchange a few pleasantries, but it certainly won't affect my day, but it won't be any less pleasant.
Friends I try to see regularly, but tend to fail miserably! When we do meet up, we have so much to talk about and catch up on and it is lovely to do so, but there is no pressure, no expectations and really quite casual.
Good friends, I have a few. Well, half a dozen or so I suppose. Some live close by (next door even!) and I may see them regularly or maybe once in a blue moon, even those that live just three or four miles down the road and some live much further afield. There will always be alot to catch up on, gossip over a cuppa, problems to share, advice and knowledge or a shoulder to cry on. Mainly, there is a deep, deep caring. These are people I miss if I don't see them for a long time and if I were to lose touch with, I would never forgive myself.
I think it was an outing just recently that highlighted this all for me. My eldest daughter has a friend whom she has been at school with since nursery. This in itself is quite unusual here, we have a fluctuating society locally. They spend quite alot of time together and I know the friend's mum quite well. During the good weather, they invited me and the children to join them on a trip to the seaside for a picnic and a spot of sandcastle building.
Now, I have to admit, I hate seasides with a passion. I love strolling along a beach in a brisk wind, when the sea is rough. I find that very atmospheric and emotive. Sitting on a beach, in a bikini, watching, or worse, having to join in with building sandcastles makes my blood run cold. I confessed this straight away, but said we'd join them because the children love it even if I don't.
It was pergatory and she just didn't understand. She loves to state her opinion and can be very forthright with it, but if I ever choose to express mine, (which I don't very often in her company, it's too much like hard work...) she'll ask me, quite genuinely, "Do you, Louise, do you really think that?" I don't think she means to be patronising or condescending, but I 've learnt to nod and make all the right noises, just like a long-suffering husband might.
So, I guess I've decided she's an acquiantance rather than a friend. She's nice, intelligent, has a sense of humour, but we're not in the same place.
There is always someone I can turn to in a crisis, whether I need a lift, a babysitter, to share a bottle of wine, a really good laugh or just a boost to my confidence.
I hope I am always there for them too.