On Friendship

Moving frequently growing up, childhood friendships were made and broken but not necessarily forgotten. I have vivid memories of a girl from first grade in Florence, Alabama who invited me over to spend the night and we stayed up late jumping madly on couch cushions like they were trampolines. There was gentle red-headed Pam Bowers, who I only remember saying good-bye to just before we moved, and my first crush as a seven year old. There was this adorable boy who lived in our Richmond, Virginia neighborhood with a brown crewcut and a serious overbite. He sealed our troth with a thin metal ring with a sky blue stone just before we moved. As a child and even as a young teenager, I didn’t understand how you maintained friendships because we would inevitably move and these connections were severed. 

It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I learned that you can have friendships that are grounded in the ordinary and everyday. (But mind you, we can’t experience the ordinary and everyday unless we live somewhere for a reasonable period of time.) Today, this might mean having coffee at a local cafe, celebrating a birthday or christening, taking a walk together or attending a book launch or art exhibition. It also might mean taking a friend a pot of vegetable soup when they are ill or getting a recommendation for a good dentist. Moving frequently, I had assumed that I had to earn any potential friend’s interest by being, well, interesting. Otherwise, why would anyone notice me or care to get to know me? 

Fortunately, I have since learned to relax and to recognize that our best and most enduring friendships have many different variations but share some important qualities: mutual respect, an abiding curiosity about the other person and some undefinable spark. I have also learned that certain friendships will continue mainly because of history—these friendships rely on habit not intimacy. But there can be a comfort in having a shared history with another person, a history that doesn’t change, and in my case, doesn’t move away. 

With all these variations in friendship, there are some rare friends in your life who continue to surprise and inspire you. I can’t be sure of the percentage for other people but with my itinerant background, I can number about two people who fall into this special category. They are friends for a lifetime and we connect on some deeper level no matter where I am living and no matter what I am doing. It doesn’t mean that they can’t annoy or frustrate you but distance is never a barrier. For those of us who have been ‘Professional Newcomers’, this is a gift that can never be taken for granted. 

Picture of Joyce Agee

Joyce Agee

Writing can magically transport us anywhere. My blog looks at the experiences of being an expat newcomer; life in a small town in regional Australia, and what the world looks like living ‘down under’.


Related posts

A Modern Day Horror Story

The banking industry should be heartily applauded for their security systems to stop cyber crime which now makes it nearly impossible for genuine account owners to access their money. ———————- In the name of cyber

Read More »

The Night of Noisy Men

A girlfriend and I ordered drinks and sat on stools at the front of a small bar. We chatted for about ten minutes when the noise in the room became so loud we couldn’t hear

Read More »

Cat & Pigeons 

Recently, I was giving a talk about my book The Newcomer’s Dictionary at a local library. In conversation with one of the audience members, I discussed a potential issue that would cause some concerns for

Read More »

The Madness of Social Media

If anyone has ever has tried to solve a technical glitch related to Facebook (Meta), Instagram or another social media platform, you will know that the process to solve a problem can be so difficult

Read More »

Jane Again

The opportunity to reread a book seems a luxury. With all of the new books and limited time how do we justify it? On impulse, I borrowed a new paperback edition of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane

Read More »

On Friendship

Moving frequently growing up, childhood friendships were made and broken but not necessarily forgotten. I have vivid memories of a girl from first grade in Florence, Alabama who invited me over to spend the night

Read More »

Thanksgiving Thoughts

An Australian friend recently asked me about the significance of the Thanksgiving holiday in America. Living abroad, I am accustomed to people not understanding this holiday as it is uniquely American and does not have

Read More »

Tyranny of Distance

Numerous books for expats offer practical ideas to help bridge the distance from family and loved ones when people live in other countries. But let’s face it, the hardship of overcoming great distances is real

Read More »

Learning Leisure Activities 

We planned a glamorous two-day holiday on the coast of Victoria for my birthday, but instead of feeling like a holiday, it felt more like a trip to a comic Twilight Zone. Admittedly, our challenges

Read More »

Another Agee on Film 

James Rufus Agee (1909-1955), was the posthumous winner of the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1958 for his autobiographical novel, A Death in the Family. He is our family’s most distinguished member and comes from

Read More »