The earliest high school friend I can remember is Ardelia Jones who could drive a stick shift. Watching her switch to the second gear impressed me. The way she would take her right foot off the accelerator while simultaneously activating the clutch with her left foot – often with a cigarette in hand was a skill that many didn’t have. Then there was the beautiful and smart Tracy Baker, who scraped the side of a teacher’s car when driving into a car wash stall, a car we borrowed to drive in the senior parade. We spent an entire day at an auto body shop getting it repaired, causing us to miss our senior parade. I don’t remember exactly how we first met, it may have been cheerleading, but she was always the friend I felt I could tell anything.
Mentors were my next friends. There was Clarice Marshall a classy smart educator and neighbor who taught me about relationships and the importance of loving myself. Virginia Alder, a great teacher, warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring and then Arleatha Green who taught me what a good friendship looks like. I learned a lot from Apple, as I call her, she helped me understand how to live better. I always felt lucky to have her around. Come to think of it, she also made me feel completely unworthy of her friendship! She was just too good!
If I hadn’t experienced an amazing weekend connecting with a group of high school girlfriends, friendship probably wouldn’t have come to mind. It was so good to catch up, reminisce, and share our road through life with friends.
Aristotle speaks of three different types of friendships: friendship of utility, friendship of pleasure and friendship of the good.
- Friendship of utility is a friendship between you and someone who is useful to you in some way. The best way to explain it is I do a favor for you with the hope that a favor will be returned. For example, I don’t mind driving this time because she’s done it for me- you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.
- Friendship of pleasure is a friendship when you enjoy each other’s company and there’s always much laughter. Someone you enjoy over a certain activity. You would have a drink with them, but you wouldn’t invite them to dinner.
- Friendship of the good, are based on mutual respect and admiration. These are the friendships that take longer to build than utility and pleasure—and they are more powerful and enduring. These friendships come about when two people recognize that they have similar values and goals. They are invaluable, and necessary to live happy lives.
The closet friendships I have are with the people whom I respect and admire most. I like the way they treat their friends and the way they get (the right) things done. People who are incredibly loyal. When you have true friendship, you have friends that love you for who you are, and they only want good things for you.
Over the years the one thing I found to be true is that friends can grow separately without growing apart, especially high school friends. It’s hard to believe that next year we will celebrate 45 years since we graced the halls of our high school alma mater, Southeast High School, the Castle. Often, high school friendships will last into adulthood and often serve as the foundation for future relationships.