By Alex Cohen
This has been one of the best summers for me. Aside from our family, I spent a lot of extra time with my friends, including two weeks on a boat trip and then every weekend out east or in Los Angeles with them – it’s been a blast.
I cannot begin to tell you the joy I get from spending time with my friends. They are family that I “hand-picked” and I love our time together. Ever since my kids flew the coop, my pals have picked up the slack on keeping me entertained and in good company. I don’t know what I would do without them.
Indulge me as I take a trip back to when we old folks were growing up. We lived in buildings where we knew every one of our neighbors and we played outside together, everyday. We would yell out the window or knock on a friend’s door and ask them to come out to play. If we lived in a house, we would walk or ride our bikes over and do the same, sometimes even a pebble to the window got their attention….
We knew all of our neighbors, and they knew us. We were never far from supervision or safety but, most of all, we knew we could always count on our friends. We were all part of communities that looked out for each other. If a neighbor was sick, our parents would take their kids to school or make them a meal. If a friend were in trouble, we never hesitated to reach out and help. If there was a fire, flood or any trouble at all, we united as a community to help – it was just the way it was.
Now, we have to create schedules and organize play dates for our children and plan them months in advance, so as not to interfere with afterschool activities or, God forbid, other play dates. We often brag about how many “friends” we have on Facebook or how many followers we have on Instagram and Snapchat, and we keep track of our “likes,” “retweets” and “shares.” Because I’m a baby boomer I may be spelling or using these terms incorrectly but I think you all get the gist of what I am saying.
What happened to quality time spent in person, whether planned or spontaneous? How many people can even say they know their neighbor’s name? Whether you live in a house or an apartment, when was the last time you said hello to a neighbor, helped with their bags, or left them a note or gift during the holidays?
I have always kept a core group of friends. Some I have known my whole life, some as many years as my marriage and others for a decade or so. This group has always remained small and I am as devoted to them as they are to me. Sadly, I’ve had to divorce myself from a few for not being as supportive to me as I had been to them (one-sided relationships never work) but, in the end, it was the best thing for me.
During my husband’s destination birthday, he said to me: “I loved watching you dance and have such a great time with your friends.” That says a lot. There is never a dull moment with my crew – we laugh, gossip, drink and eat together like no one I know. We look forward to being together every chance we get, even with our busy lives. Not only are they, individually, my closest friends but they themselves have all bonded also – through me – and created their own special friendships with each other. I still look around the table when we are all together and thank God that we found each other. We don’t always agree on things and often have very lively debates, but in the end we accept each other for who we are – flaws and all.
This blog is about friendships; the people we surround ourselves with says a lot about who we are. Are they kind, generous of spirit, trustworthy, loving, and dependable (and, in our group, thick-skinned as well)? Are you these things? More importantly, this blog is also about giving friendship – both to yourself and to others. First, you must own the traits above for yourself before you can be them for others. You also have to be a good friend, in order to get a good friend in return (remember what I said earlier, one-way relationships never work!).
Don’t take your friends for granted. Tell them you love them, and show them that you care. Tend to their needs and always keep that shoulder ready. Keep them in your mind and in your heart, even when you have not seen them in a while – no amount of distance can ever change how you feel.
If you live in close proximity to your neighbors, introduce yourself the next time you see them, compliment them on something, on anything! Cute dog, great shoes, nice car, pretty roses, etc. Drop off a small plant or candle with a note just introducing yourself, a small gesture goes a long way when you might need a neighbor down the road.
Trust me, these tiny actions will have a big impact and go a long way. You never know, you may just be opening the door to a lifelong friendship.
Now call your friends and plan a night out – enjoy every minute of it!
The old rule will always apply…DO UNTO OTHERS…..