I have been avidly watching the last episodes of the Oprah Winfrey Show. I know, I know. I have not been one of those people who really paid much attention to the show unless I was home sick or on vacation one day and happened to catch it. But seeing as this is the last season, they really have upped their game and many of these shows have been fantastic.
Last week, she had on Gayle King – her much publicized best friend. And her audience was all best friends. And Oprah was saying that she was so glad to have had a friend like Gayle and how she wishes everyone did.
And it made me think: Who is my Gayle?
I have never been one of those people that had a lot of really close friends. I would have usually 1 or 2 close friends and a lot of people that were friendly…people with whom I had something in common for a period of time – work, class, activity – that would not necessarily outlast the thing that brought us together in the first place. And then there was a larger ring of people with whom I was acquaintances…people I knew but not well.
I think that is a fairly common model of people’s friendships. Especially friendships once you are an adult.
The “Sex In The City” or “Friends” model of adult friendships is uncommon…I think. Isn’t it? Or is it just me?
I always wondered how much my friendships was shaped by the fact that socially I am awkward at my best and completely inept at my worst. I am not good at small talk, am easily sent to a place of quiet nervousness around people who are good at it, and often find myself wishing I was better at the seemingly easy conversation of people around me. My friends tend to be people who got to know me over time. Or people who stuck with me during the awkward early non-conversations. Or people who met me while I was in a comfortable place – usually speaking about something I know a lot about…music, scrapbooking, etc.
In March I went to visit the 2 people who probably know me the best of anyone. My sister – whom I grew up with and knows me best by process of longevity and shared history (and partially because you can pretty much bet I am the exact opposite of anything she is thinking). And my friend Matthew. He knows me better than anyone outside of my family and he is one of the few people with whom I am completely candid…even when it hurts.
Last weekend I had lunch with 2 of my other close friends. Penny – who has been both mentor and friend to me for the last 5 or 6 years and Sara – someone who has cared for and commiserated with me over the last 6 or 7.
These 4 people have been the bedrock of my friendships for the last several years. Ironically – none of them live locally anymore (although Sara is at least on the east coast again). It means that I don’t have people to spend time with on a regular basis. And I spend a lot of time on email and Facebook with them.
For me – I don’t have a Gayle. I have 4 people who each function slightly differently. Who each fill a different need.