This last weekend I went to a wedding and caught up with some of my college friends. They are among the best friends I have had in my entire life, but let’s face it after we graduated college, we all went our separate ways and lost contact. We have been out of college for a few years now and some of them I have only talked to on holidays (if that).
When we met up at this wedding, we did the whole hugging and “how are you thing” as we sat at a table together. There were awkward silences and conversation didn’t seem to flow as it used to when we were in college. This was no longer the “girl talk” we used to have in college. Instead, it was the “we are grown up. We all have separate lives now. Besides teaching, we no longer have anything in common,” talk. Being the conversationalist of the group (I have always been. That was always my role in my group of friends), I maintained the conversation by adding in comments about something or making funny statements. I strived to keep the conversation going. It worked, but after about 4 hours we were done. There was nothing else to cover.
I went back home with one of my best friends (also from college) and we started drinking wine. With her I could pick things back up. Conversation came natural for us. We were the same friends we were in college. Yes, she is married, but we were our goofy selves….well, ok. It was more like I was the goofy, insane one and she was the one that maintained me. That’s usually the role my best friends end up playing because I can get extreme at times. This girl was the one that made sure I showed up on time and the one that talked me down from some idiotic plans I got when I was mad. Sure, things between us weren’t quite the same as they used to be, but after not talking to each other for an entire YEAR, we did pretty good. I remember the nights I used to crash on her couch because we pulled all nighters finishing up homework projects. Or me being the one that would wing the presentations we did together because she was too nervous and couldn’t figure out how I did it. Then there was the night that we burnt cookies we made for class, so we went and bought store made ones to frost so no one would know. We ended up coming back with cookies, frosting and shots. We had some good times together. It was so nice to be able to spend time with someone else my age. Let’s face it. I haven’t done that since this girl’s wedding over a year ago. I laughed harder than I did during the entire school year. It was a good time. Even though it was for only two days.
Altogether, this experience made me sad. We used to be the group that was inseparable. The one that talked boys, gossip, TV shows, books and the latest drama at school. We crashed on each other’s couches when someone need help with a project or some drama was happening in their lives. But now, we don’t talk. We hardly even text. I have gone two years without hearing from one of them. Occasionally, I will get/give the “happy holidays. I hope everything is great with you,” texts. I also get few emails with questions about something happening in their classrooms. This made me reflect on my role in this group of friends. As said before, I was the conversationalist. I was also seen as the intellectual. I was the one in the group that everyone went to with questions about homework, what books to read, what to do in their classrooms, etc. I had the answers. I never knew this until we all had supper together one night the summer I graduated from college. One friend was having a breakdown because she didn’t have a teaching job. We were prepping her for an interview. She was asked a question and she was like “Come on. I am NOT (insert my name here).” All eyes went to me. I knew what they meant by the looks and said, “you guys. I am not that smart.” I got rolled eyes and nods. They didn’t agree with me, but I dropped the conversation. It made me think about it. Did they really see me as the nerd? Sure they did. I was the glue that kept them together in college. I was the one they called when they didn’t get a project and didn’t want to go see the professor. Yes, the undergraduate degree wasn’t a challenge for me. It came natural. I hardly opened textbooks and just went off lectures. I managed to pull 4.0’s and graduate with honors. Sure, I even had a professor pull me into her office and tell me that I needed to pursue advanced degrees because I was gifted. I denied her and adamantly shook my head as I said, “I will be a teacher. I’ve always wanted to be just a teacher.” She half-heartedly nodded and told me that I would contact her in a few years about graduate school. She even emailed me once and jokingly called me Dr. (insert last name here). Yes, she was right. I went off to grad school and know I will go on for the PhD. I never told my friends about that experience. And yet, here they were calling me the smart one of the group. It was my label. I was the funny, smart one that could carry on a conversation with anyone. That was my role in this group of friends.
So, let’s talk dynamics of friends. Yes, we all have roles with our friends. Don’t we? We all have some sort of label assigned to us that each friend understands and goes to that certain person for. I guess with best friends, everything comes natural. But, all in all, we have a role to play in our friend’s lives. It’s just sort of how being friends works.