Marilyn was my best friend from elementary through high school. Our mothers were Girl Scout leaders together; we rode bikes to Tod's Point Beach and had sleep-overs on weekends; at age sixteen we were camp counselors in Litchfield, Connecticut, together. After high school I headed to college in Maine and she to Ohio. Subsequently, we were in each other's weddings and got together sporadically when in the area. Charley and I visited her daughter and family in Italy and I attended her husband Wayne's memorial service in Ohio.
|Pam and Marilyn, 2013|
|Greenwich (Ct.) High School Hockey Team, 1960|
During that first girlfriend gathering in Massachusetts all of us were tentative with each other. We talked of parents and siblings we all knew. Over bottles of wine we broke out our high school yearbooks to reminisce about proms and boyfriends, our favorite teachers, college weekends our parents consented to, and cheer-leading uniforms we paraded in. We had shared the trivialities of the teen years through quasi-adulthood. During walks on the beach we felt each other out to reveal medical problems, failed marriages, and worries over kids.
|Westport, Mass., 2011|
|Delray Beach, Florida, 2019|
|Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Delray Beach, Fl., 2019|
|Pam with Pat, Mystic, Conn., 2017|
|Delray Beach, Fl., 2019|
Young people, however, don't seem to be concerned. They feel socially supported by large networks of "friends" they never see face-to-face. The kind of presence required for deep friendships does not seem cultivated in on-line relationships. There we cannot touch or smell each other, detect each other's facial expressions, or moods. We can easily replace on-line "friends" and often don't know where they live or if they're a he, she, or bot. For the disabled, however, that is an advantage.
Asma in his article proclaims the most defining feature of deep friendship is "doing for," as when a person is sick and needs soup or a ride for medicine or appointments. "The emotional entanglement of real friendship produces oxytocin and endorphins in the brains and bodies of friends - cementing them together in ways that are more profound than other relationships."
Kids still get a large amount of face-to-face time in school and after-school. However, when Professor Asma asked his college students if they had people in their lives who would bring them soup when they got sick, they laughed. They told him they'd order from UberEats!
|The Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach, Fl., 2019|