I watch my twins laugh and chat with their friends from school over Facetime. The happy faces, the whispered exchanges and the giggles that break out every once in a while, make me amused. I think about the time I was eleven in the pre telephone, pre internet days where friends meant those that lived next door or across the street. These were people you ran around with or read books with.
As I grew older, friends at school were the stilts on which my identity was constructed. I related to the world as someone’s friend, as a member of a group. My individual identity was a late bloomer, appearing in my late thirties and finally seeing full beauty now in my forties.
As a young adult, all of my time was about being with friends, talking to friends and talking about friends. Very often, amma would caution me about being caught up in friendship so much. People fall away, relationships fray and drop by the wayside she would say. I would scoff at her. Now, I marvel at her farsightedness.
All of the people who shaped my identity are stick figures in my imagination now. The memories of the highs, the pure euphoria of being part of an intense relationship are like whiffs of fragrance, evoking memories and fading away sometimes leaving a smile on my face. The heartbreaks, the pain of exclusion, the hurt from lingering artefacts is just as important as the good parts. They remind me of the time I was intensely alive, so consumed by people, feelings and emotions. Distance gives perspective and I realize there is truth in the adage that is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.
I imagine the next couple of decades for my girls will be defined by friends and relationships. I am tempted to caution them as amma did once but I stay silent, watching things play out and hoping I can hold them as they break only to be healed again.