New Castle News

Lisa Madras

July 30, 2012

Lisa Madras: Who can soften the blow of the Big 4-0? A special friend can

NEW CASTLE — Do you truly realize the value of your friendships?

Last weekend, my oldest friend and I spent the morning sitting on her deck watching the kids swim and sipping lemonade.

We talked about the things girlfriends usually talk about — our jobs, our exes, our battles with keeping our hair from frizzing in the hundred-degree temperatures.

As girlfriends are also wont to do, we found ourselves slipping into heavier conversations — would we ever find love, would our lives ever be what we wanted, had our pasts ruined us for ever achieving happiness? (God bless her soul, but this is the fate that awaits anyone who hangs out with me long enough, and this remarkable friend has been tolerating my philosophical maelstroms for almost 28 years. That alone qualifies her for sainthood.)

So I said to Alexandra (names have been changed to keep my friend from bludgeoning me to death with a blunt object for revealing her age), "You realize we're turning 40 this year, right?"

I waited for the inevitable "Ugh" and eye-roll, but it never came. Instead, she quietly confided that she'd been thinking about it, too.

We decided that sunny afternoon to set about making plans for increasing our social outings and building ourselves up both physically and mentally. Neither of us is really sure where exactly it is we're headed, but we do know that we're not going to enter the second half of our lives sitting still.

And that's not to say that we didn't accomplish anything in the first half, either. She and I both got educations (hers better than mine), and where she focused many more years on schooling and a wonderful career, I opted to build myself a little family ... both of us choosing different paths, and while thankful for our choices, often missing the rewards the other path would have offered.

But we're both smart girls (notice how I use the term "girl" to soften the blow of the upcoming big four-oh!) and even though we've both hit a sort of stale patch in our lives, we know the importance of taking the bull by the horns and making the changes we need to make to find happiness.

More importantly, we know the importance of never entering that bullpen alone. Someone's gotta be there to scream "run for your life!" when you're about to get gored, and to fall down laughing at how stupid you looked running with your earrings bouncing off your eyeballs and bull poo on your six-inch heels.

That's what friends are for.  

Due to unfortunate pride issues, Alexandra and I both would rather eat a live cockroach than admit out loud that we need each other. Despite that, we've both been there for the good times and the bad hair days since the fateful day we met each other at the community pool when we were still a couple of gangly, awkward 12-year- olds.

In a weird way, by forging that friendship, we saved each other that day, even if only from a day of boredom.

The years have passed with each of us doing our own things, sometimes with other best friends, sometimes with years between phone calls, but always with the knowledge that the other was still out there somewhere. Always with the knowledge that the moment one of us needed the other the bond would still be as strong as the friendship bracelets we'd woven back in junior high.

Now, 28 years later, even though we'd rather tell someone our real age than admit it, the time has come for us to rescue each other again, because only real, true-blue, gangly, awkward, almost 40-year-old, pinky-swearing friends know that sometimes the only way to save yourself is to save someone else.

"You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway?  We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that." — Charlotte, "Charlotte's Web"

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