Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
Today seems like the perfect day to write about friends. I wasn’t able to post much last week because of Hurricane Sandy. I live in New Jersey, and I’m very lucky that my house in Montclair was spared. So many people I love lost their homes and their electricity. Many are still without power. School hasn’t started up again yet. We’ve all been doing what we can for each other. We’re happy that routines (if not gas) are getting back to normal. What would this disaster have looked like without the kindness of others and the selflessness of friends?
Author Julie Klam is a New Yorker, and she has emerged from the storm intact according to her tweets, which I love to read. I want to be friends with her. Klam is the author of the new book Friendkeeping. (Check out my review in the November issue of Parents magazine.) First of all, she made me laugh out loud. Second, she just gets it. Friendships are complicated, and each one seems to have its own life cycle. For example, my BFFs and I bonded much differently before I had my babies. Not only did I have to stop raging until 2 a.m., I wasn’t even available for dinner unless we could meet at 5 p.m. Then there’s the whole motherhood issue. Some friends wanted kids desperately but remained single; some had fertility issues, and then some–the ones I was able to stay closest to–had children around the same time I did. Awkward. But this situation happens to many of us, and it also happened to Klam. She lays out her relationships in detail with insight and humor.
Have a friend who married someone you just can’t stand? What about a friend you loved but lost and then finally reconnected? What about the friend who always seemed to suck your emotions dry? Klam can tell you all about it.
My favorite part of the book is when Klam’s pals come through during her health crisis. When she is diagnosed with preeclampsia toward the end of her pregnancy, her friends help her manage bed rest, meals, a messy apartment and the overwhelming wall of gifts she receives even though she is too sick to attend her own shower. Unlike her worried mother, her girlfriends know not to talk about the baby and to bring her gossip mags and chicken dinners. Her close pal Jancee straightens Klam’s apartment proclaiming, “I love cleaning!,” words that ease Klam’s feelings of guilt and vulnerability. Klam and her baby turn out just fine (not really a spoiler). But her potentially fatal pregnancy makes the author more empathetic when pals go through tough times.
And that’s what it’s all about. Friendships go up, down and sideways in a constant motion. We may argue, disagree, envy, support, hug and love each other. It’s all good–as long as we’re friends.