No faster or firmer friendships

Amy and me with a teeny-tiny section of her family's BOOKS!  February 2012

Amy and me with a teeny-tiny section of her family’s BOOKS! February 2012

“There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.”Irving Stone

OK, think of how to describe the friend of your dreams.  The best friend you can imagine.

First, and this is a big one – someone who lives close enough that you can get to her home in less than an hour (in good traffic).  Hmmmm, that leaves almost all of my friends out.  Well, we’re just imagining right now, so we can come up with anything we want.  That one is not a requirement for being a friend, but in an ideal fantasy world, it counts.

OK, next, someone who has the same value system as you do, and understands your life’s priorities.  Someone who is there the minute you need her.  Someone who totally gets it when life is horrible and you just need to cry.  Someone who doesn’t expect perfection and knows how to laugh often and heartily.  Someone who loves to travel and is fun to be with when it’s time to go places.

So far, so good.  Now let’s add some icing on that cake.  Someone who has a super cool animal living at her home — and for me, extra points if it’s a dog.  Someone who has lots of tea and likes to chat over a cup.  Or two.  Or three.  Someone with lots of ice cream…no, make that an ice cream parlor! In her basement! With toppings and everything! (Hey, this is a fantasy, remember?)

And here’s a really big one: someone who LOVES BOOKS, all kinds of books, including some of the same ones you love!

Wait a minute…I just described my real-life friend Amy!  So some dreams come true, and not everything in my life is difficult right now.  If some of you are wondering how we manage to keep going through all that has happened recently, now you know one reason why we can.

Not every friend will fill all these qualifications, but most of us have some very dear friends with whom we share at least a few of them.  Aren’t you glad?  Whoever came to your mind when you read this, send her (or him) a quick note to say “thanks.”  While you are at it, find out if there are any good books you can talk about together.   Ice cream optional!

One year ago today:

The best kind of friend

43 Comments

  1. Books have always been my best friends…as a child my mother worked. She provided me with books and I was happy curled up with them…
    My best friend, Jayne didn’t enjoy reading as I do. But my friend MS Sylvia loved books as much as I do and we enjoyed reading the same books and discussing them.
    The “Killing of Jesus” by Bill O”Riley was the last book we read together before her death at a 100 yrs. in May 2014. Friends like Jayne and MS Sylvia are special…
    And your friend Amy.
    Ice cream is the topping on the book…Ahh Cake! 🙂
    Did you know…July is Ice Cream month!?

    • Merry, I didn’t know July was ice cream month. That settles it…I will simply have to find some time to get to Amy’s this month! How wonderful that you have friends with whom you share(d) books. Wow, MS Sylvia sounds amazing! I have not read any O’Reilly’s books but the one about Lincoln did sound interesting, and now the one about Jesus also. There is hardly anything that will cure my sadness or loneliness like getting absorbed in a good book. I like both fiction and nonfiction. Right now I’m reading Empty Mansions, a nonfiction book that reads like fiction, except that it would be too far-fetched to believe if it was fiction!

  2. Terrific, Julia! Now I have to brag on my best friend, Gailie. (Gail) When I’m home, she’s less than 15 minutes away from me (regardless of traffic!), she has a cool cat named Dewey (and several other pets, two are dogs and her husband has a parrot), rather than ice cream, we both appreciate red wine or a good gin & tonic, and we trade books as we finish reading them!
    I am such a lucky duck! Further more, I’ve known her since seventh grade, so we did “awkward” together, and had our first jobs together, at McDonalds.
    Yay for such a rare and precious find, as a Best Friend!
    (And now I’ll forward her this link) 🙂

    • Susan, thanks for sharing your friend Gailie with us! She does sound like a gem. WOW, I am only in touch with a few people who have known me that long! Working at McDonald’s or some other fast food place is almost a rite of passage in the USA – I wonder what percentage of people born since 1950 have ever worked in some sort of restaurant? Probably a lot! YES, friends are among the greatest blessings in life! Thanks for sending her the link to this; I hope she will see your comment!

  3. As I read your list of conditions for the ultimate best friend my friends quickly didn’t make muster. My best friend was just here two weeks ago on his cross-country trip on his honeymoon. He’s a face to face friend. He doesn’t write at all but prefers to call and chat on the phone. We met while working at a textile mill and have been close friends for over 20 years. Marion was there for me when I went through the toughest time in my life. We shared the good times as well, frequenting each other’s workplace and homes. He is a man of God. I was there when he was ordained as a Baptist minister. We will always be friends, regardless of the distance between us.

    • Bob, I should have mentioned that Amy and I were thousands of miles apart for well more than half of the 20+ years we have been friends. She lived in Germany and in the Ascension Islands, as well as Montana, Wyoming and Colorado (I think I’m getting that right) since we first met, but the Air Force eventually put our families close together again. One of the things I’ve liked best about living part time in the DC area is being closer to her and her family. I don’t know how I would have survived Jeff’s diagnosis without her. But as you say, a true friendship is unchanging despite the distances. I am so happy you have such a friend in your life. Such close friends really do multiply our joy and divide our grief, as the old saying goes.

  4. Julia, I am an avid book nut!!!!! That is what drew me to you. My fantasy life always has books in it. The people I pity most are the ones who can’t read.

    • Cherie, I agree! I hear people talk of “retail therapy” and I can really enjoy getting out and looking in stores (but usually I don’t buy much), but for me, there is no therapy quite like “library therapy.” I walk into the library door and suddenly the world seems to be without boundaries, full of possibilities. Reading is something that binds us to people of all regions of the world, and most of recorded history as well. I think it’s amazing that we can “know” people who lived hundreds of years ago, through reading their words. What an amazing gift.

  5. Jack

    My lawyer friend David, whom I’ve known since the 4th grade and I have hunted, fished, played golf, socialized, bailed each other out of jail, our wives have been best friends for 20 years, seen the good, the bad and the ugly of each others’ lives now for 40+ years. It all started because of the Hardy Boys, continued through William Faulkner, Robert Ruark, Pat Conroy, CS Lewis and a wide array of good boy and bad boy authors (on a bad boy side note, read “Eat the Rich” by PJ O’Rourke). Our golf is pretty lousy, neither of us has been to jail for 30+ years but the books, the hunting and the wives remain the unifying themes.

    He’s been a gift from a God who loves in the coolest of ways.

    • Jack, I am so happy you have David in your life! Sounds as if you’ve been through a lot together. Maybe you will be like my Daddy, who is lucky enough to still have his childhood best friend in his life now that they are both past 85. It seems there are too few such enduring relationships in today’s world. BTW I love P.J. O’Rourke and think of him as a “good” bad boy, a loveable curmudgeon/gadfly who uses deft and incisive humor to make some hard truths more palatable.

  6. My husband is my best friend, and we do many of these things. But my best girlfriend works outside a lot and is a bus driver. She’s usually too tired to be much of a reader at night. But we still have lots to talk about! 🙂

    • How wonderful that your husband is also your best friend! I really envy Amy and her hubby when it comes to reading because they read aloud to each other on long car trips and they share the books they read with each other. I think that is so cool. I have a few friends who don’t read much and we always seem to find lots to talk about. Women tend to have that skill, I think! 🙂

      • I agree that talking is a skill most women have! 🙂 My husband and I read portions of things we want to share out loud to each other. I got him to read the book of “A Christmas Carol” out loud to me and the kids when they were little one Christmas season. That was fun!

        • Don’t you just love the Scrooge story? A Christmas Carol is such a favorite in our family that our son once wrote (for a school assignment) that “the love for this book is a family heirloom.” It’s a great book for reading aloud. Our father used to read it to us. Happy memories!

  7. LB

    Hello Julia,
    I just spent some time reading through your last several posts (I’m caught up!), but am only commenting here.
    What a wonderful walk through your blog:
    Pressing forward to live up to what we know is right (you are right on target with Jefferson’s inconsistencies amidst the brilliance),
    Happiness, Friendship, Blogging Benefits, and of course, Grooving Grady.
    You right such thoughtful posts, Julia, and we are grateful for your insights!

    • Thank you LB, for your encouragement! As a fellow transplanted Virginian, you may have experienced the same thing I did when we first moved here – I sensed a great deal of local pride in both Washington and Jefferson. Understandably so, of course, but it sort of reminded me of the years we lived in Memphis where one almost becomes an Elvis fan by osmosis, his influence and fan base is still so strong there. Having homes in Yorktown and Alexandria (near Mount Vernon) we certainly hear a lot about George Washington. Virginia is a great place to live for anyone interested in history; of course, I’m sure that’s true of almost anywhere! I really appreciate your reading through all the posts you missed. I get so far behind on reading blogs (as with everything else).

  8. Rene

    My childhood friend, Lauretta, and I would have slumber parties that consisted of us pooling our Nancy Drew books (or Harlequin Romances, later) and reading all night, while devouring nacho cheese Doritos & assorted other snacks. Ah, those were the days…

    • Rene, I had those same Nancy Drew sleepover memories with friends, but somehow never graduated to Harlequins. To this day I have a hard time getting through a romance novel. I’m not sure exactly why. I love Jane Austen (the prototype on which all romance books were based, in my opinion) and have read maybe one or two romance books I liked, but mostly I was into suspense and spy novels as a teenager. Serpico, The Odessa File, Eye of the Needle, that type of thing, plus a lot of Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. I do know that Nancy Drew was always my favorite series. I’ve been tempted to go back and read a few of them again. I bet I would still love them. I was so surprised to learn that “Carolyn Keene” was really a bunch of different authors writing for a book packager. I remember our school library was not allowed to have Nancy Drew books since they were considered “not of high literary quality” but they must have done something right because so many of my generation grew up devouring them! Those were the days indeed!

      • Aw, I didn’t know that about Carolyn Keene! I inherited my mom’s modest collection of Nancy Drew books and then added some more. But the differing authors may explain why I could read some over and over, (the Old Clock? 99 Stairs? ) while I thought others rather feeble and could barely get through them. In general, it seemed the older ones were better, but maybe I was younger and more easily impressed.

        • I never thought of it until you mentioned it, but come to think of it there was quite a difference among various titles in that series, wasn’t there? Some of them just seemed to move much faster and be more exciting. Of course, they were also written over a long span of time, with the first one coming out in 1930, so that may explain some of the variation. And the first few were written by the same woman, though she was a “hired gun” who didn’t originate the idea for the series. Apparently we are in good company in loving Nancy Drew – according to Wikipedia: “A cultural icon, Nancy Drew has been cited as a formative influence by a number of women, from Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Sonia Sotomayor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former First Lady Laura Bush.” HA! Take that, literary snobs who said these books didn’t belong in school libraries! 😀

      • Rene

        You should read GIRL SLEUTH, which is about the Stratemeyer Syndicate and the women who wrote as Carolyn Keene, It is fascinating.

        • Thanks Rene, I had not heard of that book! I just put it on hold at my local library. I also reserved the unabridged audio of the first-ever Nancy Drew book (Secret of the Old Clock) which also happens to be the first I owned, and one of only about 5 or 6 I ever owned. The version I checked out is read by Laura Linney; I expect she will be a good reader. All this talk of Nancy has made me eager to read it again and re-visit her buddies Bess, George (ahead of her time with that name! Maybe a nod to George Eliot?) and of course, good old Ned, her boyfriend, and Carson Drew, her father (an attorney?). Despite it having been many decades since I read these books, I can remember all of these characters. I never did watch any of the TV shows, though. I can’t imagine them living up to my imagination. 😀

          • Rene

            I enjoyed the TV shows the first season or so (& eagerly awaited Sunday evenings for that reason), but the departure of Pamela Sue Martin & Shaun Cassidy’s pop career kind of ruined the whole thing for me.

            • From what you say, I’m glad I wasn’t watching the show’s demise! Shaun Cassidy? Was he Ned or something? Talk about a crass ploy to draw in viewers! 😀

              • Rene

                Shaun Cassidy played Joe Hardy (Parker Stevenson was Frank). At first the show, alternated between HB & ND, but at some point the producers went with the boys, Nancy visiting only occasionally. Sacrilege!

                • Rene, I knew girls who read the Hardy Boys, but I never did. I know nothing about any of them. Unfortunately, the teeny-bopper audience the TV show was playing to probably drew the boy-crazy preteen viewers, kind of like the Monkees did with my generation. So poor Nancy was sent packing. Too bad. BTW, the book you told me about is waiting for me to pick it up at the library – my hold came through. 😀

                  • Rene

                    Enjoy! (And let me know how you like it!)

                    • I just talked to the library lady – I’m going to pick it up in a few minutes. 🙂

  9. Nice! I’m happy you have Amy in your life, and I’m happy for Amy too.

    • Thank you Alys!

  10. raynard

    Julia I just read about the recent storm damage at Virginia Beach. I was thinking about a drive there this weekend. But you know me with a Plan B lol.My childhood friend that I spoke of reconnecting with and attended his wedding. He’s a over the road truck driver. We talk on the phone and via Facebook.Both of our mothers came up from the South to The Big Apple.. Be blessed as I start planning a real real big cake for our church’s picnic next month

    • Hi Raynard, it seems like we are having a storm every other day around here. Our gazebo on our Alexandria deck got mangled in some heavy winds and about the time we got it back in shape it got trashed again, so we got a new one that was a bit sturdier and fastened it down a bit tighter. I just know you will eventually make it down this way. You might have told me from where in the South your mother came, but if so I have forgotten. Did she tell you much about it? I will be eager to hear about your “real real big cake” for the church picnic – it sounds as if you are making enough so the ants will get a few crumbs too! I hope you will have good weather for it. Have a great weekend!

  11. Very nice, Julia.
    thanks,
    Alan

    • Thank you Alan, I’m so happy you liked it!

  12. Sheila

    Julia, of course we both read Nancy Drew, that’s no surprise. I’m sure I read those books several years before you though.:-) That was the highlight of “summer of 1960” when a teacher invited several neighborhood kids over to her home library. That surpassed the rural bookmobile by far! My best friend, Faye, and I love the low country authors, especially Mary Alice Monroe. Hey, she’s in our Verandah Club! 🙂

    • Sheila, I keep forgetting you are a few years ahead of me (but only a few) – based on my memories, I would guess I started reading those books somewhere around 1965 or 66. I’m not familiar with Mary Alice Monroe – I’ll have to look her up! I’ve read a couple by Anne Rivers Siddons but I can’t remember much about them; it does seem that she writes about that area some. I have one she wrote about Georgia (or Atlanta?) that I’ve never yet read. So many books, so little time! I hope you will have a wonderful weekend.

  13. Awwww, that’s so nice. Amy has a very warm smile. Great photo of the two of you Jules. What a fun fantasy and low and behold it’s true, even better. I could more easily list the ‘few’ traits that will discourage my friendship than entice. Because I’m a pretty liberal minded gal, there are very few exclusions and I can almost get along with anybody. One thing I find offensive is loud, over-talkers. People who are more keen on talking than sharing. That’s an immediate turn-off and I probably won’t make a true effort to get to know them. Also, someone who doesn’t like animals (I’ve actually met people who say this). I can imagine my life without a lot of things, but not animals. I don’t trust people who don’t love animals, I think that’s callus and un-giving of yourself. Then there’s negativity. If you’re a person who’s always “woe-is-me’ing, I might be empathetic to a certain degree but as my dad use to say, “no one likes a complainer”.
    Actually Julia, Alys sent me this link with a sweet note. As friends go, I couldn’t imagine anyone kinder or more thoughtful and caring. We’re going to be lifelong friends, this I know for sure. Lucky, lucky me and you’ll adore her even more after our visit 😀 xo

    • Thanks so much Boomdee – I think of myself as tending to be a “loud over-talker” so I’ll try to behave in person. 😀 With me it’s usually just over-excitement because I really do like to hear what other people have to say, unless it’s a rude, interrupting telephone customer “service” person who just wants to tell me why they don’t care about the problem I’m having. I don’t feel so bad about talking over memorized lines like “I do apologize but we are not able to help you with that.” While we are in full disclosure mode, as Amy can tell you, I do get into the “woe-is-me-ing” sometimes, especially in the past 18 months. Your Dad’s advice is good to remember though, because complaining does drag everyone down, especially when it’s not directed toward constructive solutions. I am so glad Alys sent you the link – I knew you would think of her when you read it! As I said, some friendships are just meant to be.

      • J, you, out of anyone I know, are entitled to “woe-is-me” to your hearts content. Gads, no one would ever fault you. I’m referring to people who have every slice of every pie and it’s not enough. No one would want to walk a mile in your shoes hon.

        Don’t be anything but yourself in person. Being authentic is a gift to everyone you meet, don’t worry, we’ll all be talking at once LOL. mwwwaaa to the moon and back. xoK

        • Thank you K, this brightened my day. It’s interesting but I find that the old “never enough” mentality is most easy to catch when everything is beyond any reasonable complaint. There’s nothing like some earth-shattering bad news to light up all the good stuff you never noticed before. Having said that, I’ll be sure to invite you to my next pity party! Sending you cyber hugs for your words of cheer today!

  14. Amy

    Yes I do have an ice cream parlor which is kind of funny since it’s not my favorite snack but we love sharing it with all of our friends so bring the boys and come on down. We are doing well. Hope the same is true for you. When is Matt at camp? I hope to take a day off while he is away so we can have a day together. Love to the boys. Thank you for this. I love you and consider it a wonderful blessing that you have stayed my friend for so long.

    • Wow, I didn’t know you were not as crazy about ice cream as I am. I’ll just have to take more of it off your hands in the future. If all goes well, Matt should be at camp July 20-27, so we will simply HAVE to get together during that time. I hope you don’t mind me featuring you without your permission here. Kind of late to be saying that I guess. 😀 Love you!

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