I’m pleased to present this guest post by the inspiring Stevie Mikayne–seriously this woman is an amazing author, editor, and friend–as part of the Relationships Blog Hop. It’s a neat thing I’m participating in this week with three other lit fic authors. We each chose a different type of relationship to celebrate, and I chose friendship. Here’s what Stevie has to say about that (and like the woman herself, it’s quite interesting):
I sometimes wonder if true, unadulterated friendship actually exists. No other relationship has more diverse meanings—such blurred boundaries. A friend is someone you’re connected to—attracted to. Someone you feel affection for. They can be older, younger, contemporary. But what does that term mean: just a friend? A buddy who’s more than an acquaintance, but fails to intersect with any other important relationship?
In that case, I don’t think I’ve ever had a Friend.
I have friends who are like sisters; friends who mother me; boy friends who call me ‘little sis’. I have older friends, younger friends—friends my grandparents’ age, friends I knew as youngsters. And online friends—people I chat with but have never met face-to-face. Somehow though, the Friend still eludes me.
I’ve been searching the “just a Friend“-s since I was a teenager. I’ve seen them on T.V.—young adults of the same age and intelligence quotient, hanging out in coffee shops and in each other’s ridiculously oversized flats. Calling one another at all hours of the day and night, and sharing intimate details while simultaneously revealing nothing truly personal.
Does anyone have these types of Friends? Do people desire them? Maybe I’m the only one who thinks the Friend, like so many other ideals, is a myth.
Somehow, being a writer and a recluse never offered me much opportunity to hang out in large groups of people my age. In high school, I went to an all-girls private school and didn’t party much. In university I studied a lot and spent time writing books. The bar was a breeding ground for bad decisions and I steered clear. But since very few groups of 20-somethings sit in a library together, passing around gob-stoppers and discussing literary fiction, somehow, I missed the whole evolution of a Circle of Contemporaries.
Maybe. Maybe not.
Instead, I found my own circle of friends. Off-beat, creative, intelligent people of all different ages: mechanics who dream of owning an organic farm; university professors who built a loft in their attic and are searching for a fire pole for an alternate exit. Yes really. My best friend is like a sister to me. My writing friends are guides and sounding boards and teachers as well as friends. My confidantes are mothers and soul mates. So… have I missed out? I don’t think so.
I can still count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to a bar with a huge group of 20-somethings, and, except for a persistent desire to participate in karaoke, I think I’m probably better cracking open a bottle of wine with friends in my own living room. I’d rather laugh until I cry than scream over the music.
I’m just not the type of gal to hang with that guy who wears a beer hat. And that’s probably for the best, considering my very low tolerance for beer of any kind.
In Jellicle Girl, Beth deals with friendship in all its forms: her best friend Jackie who walks the edge between close friend and something more; Lizzie, a little-sister figure Beth tries desperately to protect; Nancy Sullivan, the therapist who guides her, and with whom she fights intractably. Simon—her friend and ideal love. Kate—her cousin and confidante.
In this book there are many different forms of friendship—but no Friends. Perhaps this stemmed from my own experience. Subconsciously? Even deeper? I don’t know.
The most blurred relationship is the friendship between Beth and Jackie: two girls, both on the brink of womanhood—learning about boundaries and love and sexual attraction. Jackie seems far more confident and self-assured but lacks discipline, which is something Beth holds far too tightly. What starts out as friendship crosses every line, with Jackie at the helm—laughing and brushing off any consequences Beth brings up. It’s no big deal, she says. It doesn’t mean anything.
But it does mean something to Beth. Why? Because even in the shades of grey of women’s friendship—the world of sleepovers and skinny dipping and midnight secret swapping; holding hands, trading clothes, whispering face-to-face—she and Jackie cross a line.
They tip the boat. “Attraction is just attraction is just another form of friendship,” Jackie tells Beth.
Is that true?
Friendship overlaps with love, sure, but somewhere in that intersection lays an invisible line. The point of no return may be different for each friendship, but walk far enough and you’ll find it.
What makes some friendship spark into love while other friendships die? How do some friends recover when lines have been crossed: lines of anger or love or lust or dishonesty? What attracts us to our friends, and repels us from others? Can you have Friends who are also genuine friends?
And does the Friend really exist?
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