Wednesday, August 8, 2012

BFN or BFF?


By JOELLEN COLLINS

The other day I was talking with some teenagers and mentioned the term BFF (Best Friends Forever). They snickered, either, I presume, at my use of an Internet acronym (How can an "oldie" use this term?), or because the letters may have metamorphosed into standing for other, less-flattering, labels. As I think about my BFFs, I realize that they have many characteristics in common.

By the way, I have some other very cherished friends, whom I do not see enough due to physical distance. I do not include my daughters and other family: they are stuck with me in uncounted and wonderful ways.

I also have examined my relationships with my situational BFN (Best Friends for Now) compatriots: school pals with whom I reconnect instantly, adventurous friends from amazing trips in Ecuador and India, other mothers from baby-nurturing days, and all the marvelous people with whom I taught in California, Thailand and here. We have stayed friends in spite of life changes. It is hard to imagine the richness of my life without these women (and many men, like brothers).

However, when I miss friends I count on in emergencies or think about on an almost daily basis, I count myself lucky to know the joys of deep friendship with a few good women. What they share (other than being from my generation and having been present long in my life) are these common traits: They are strong in will and values; are adventurous; have dynamic, nurturing and effervescent personalities; are intensely loyal; and love animals and laughter.

I cannot examine them for all of these virtues now—perhaps a book would be a better forum, but I can encapsulate their qualities on a study of each exhibiting a particular characteristic.

While I consider myself a strong person, I often am quieter when I am with one of these amazing women. I actually listen to her advice and often follow it, something I have learned to do as I have matured and discovered the value of others' insights.

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Although I do not wish to belittle my own conscience, I can always count on their wisdom. For example, a good friend suggested that I avoid a beau of mine coming unexpectedly—without permission—from California one Christmas Eve. I ignored her warnings and thus faced an extremely volatile incident at Warm Springs Ranch restaurant as he followed me in, shouting obscenities and threats. If he had had a gun, he might have shot me and others, including Mike Simpson and my daughter and son-in-law, who convinced him to leave.

Hindsight is always better, but now I try to heed the sage advice of those nearest and dearest to me.

The BFF I met on my first day of high school in Mrs. Silva's Spanish class, epitomizes the dynamic and exciting side of my friends. With age she has become even more glamorous, befitting her persona as a patron of the arts in San Francisco. She also had the courage and good taste to open a boutique featuring French posters and bijoux when she first craved Paris.

Our experience as poor language students in Burbank should have given her pause, but she was able to deal with Parisian merchants and importers and adore France.

She and my other friends have proven time and time again that they are loyal, supportive and giving. One friend has invited me to move into her home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., guilt-free.

While I wouldn't impose myself on anyone for that length of time (god willing), I know she means it. I can never reciprocate fully for the generosity she and my other friends have always displayed to me

These woman are intelligent, literate, energetic, vivacious, affectionate and gregarious—the kind of people who tease each other because we never run out of things to say. I have traveled with one women friend to elegant spas and seen theater and ballet with others, but I also have shared lumpy beds in Mexico and hard floors in Thailand on our trips, laughing all the time.

Finally, from the friend who has four King Charles spaniels to my local pal who lets my two little white fluffs tease her gorgeous Aussie mix on my frequent visits, my gals all adore animals and exhibit love and compassion for them all. How blessed I am!




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