I had a lady fuss at me a while ago because I fussed at her. Isn’t that the way with things? I complained about not getting enough time with her. She told me I had no right to put such demands on her. I was making trouble. She insisted that real friends can go weeks and months without seeing each other and still be friends. Why was I being so difficult?
So, I was a good girl. I let it go. No more fussing from me. No more audacious demands. I help my tongue and resumed my proper station. But this is what I thought on the inside.
You think you can stick a pin in me and expect I'll be there when you have time for or need of me. You call this a great friendship because everything is just the same after long stretches of neglect. Yep. It's the same, all right. We live absent any interdependence or any real need to know what's going on in one another's life. That isn't friendship. That isn't family. That's a nice acquaintanceship and you can have it.
So, that isn’t very nice, but there is something to my opinion. I think there are two kinds of friends. There are the ones I like to call camp pals. These are the ones described in all the cute ecards that talk about great friends who can spend tons of time apart, but when they reunite, they pick up right where they left off. I see people romanticize this notion in our society, these occasional friends who can give you a much needed belly laugh. I have quite a few of these friends myself and I adore them and thank God for them. But they are vacation or retreat friends. You drop out of real life to reconnect. The phrase often used to describe them actually reveals a lot: ‘like no time has passed.’ The friendship isn’t about growth or maturity. When you get together, it is a great time to stop striving so hard and just be a kid again. You might talk about your life and trials with this person, but it is just talk. You need the other type of friend if you want a companion who will go through those trials with you.
That other type of friend is the roadside walker, the day-to-day companion. This one knows about the daily grind—the good, bad and boring. This friend inconveniences herself to keep up with you, and joins you in the things that keep you from meeting more regularly with your camp pal. You don’t drop everything to take a break from life to be with the roadside walker; on the contrary, you pick up each other’s lives together and carry on. You don’t have to get yourself together before you can spend time with this person. She comes without judgment and you just keep on keeping on.
Sometimes a friend can migrate from camp pal to roadside walker, or vice versa. When a roadside walker becomes a camp pal, it is often because of a geographical move or a major change in lifestyle. There is a sense that if you were still able, the camp pal would revert to road walker in an instant. My problems arose because I let my feelings get hurt when a companion friend I saw four or five times a week decided we were going to be camp pals who had no plans to see one another at all. I guess I have to learn to be a little more ‘cool’ about such things.