Friendships Past and Present. Do they have an expiry date?

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I like to think that I’m qualified to talk about friendship. See, I hardly have any friends, so I can look at the issue objectively, as an outsider (don’t feel sorry for me; I’m just a quiet fella content with a few pardnas of my own).

I could get all emotional about the topic of friendship, and the drama that can cause some friendships to end. However, friendship is something that can be considered to be seasonal or unconditional.

So, for me, it’s interesting to look at it from the perspective of our various life stages, and to see which friendships survive each transition.

Friendship conjures a few interesting memories for me, the main one being in primary school, where my schoolmates would spend many a break time arguing or discussing various going-ons, from who could have a piece of whose snack, who went on the forbidden red sand (worse yet on a day you had P.E.; the all-white uniform would make for easy profiling by teachers), and, of course, who was whose best friend.

This was never an issue I personally had to deal with. I was never anyone’s best friend, and I had no best friend to call my own. “You are my best friend. She is my best friend. Both of them are my best friends!” I’d have heard it all. In the course of a day, one can go from being a best friend to being demoted to the ghetto of ‘regular’ friendship. What a cruel world we live in.

It’s interesting how the talk about best friends can lead to people being quite the opposite.

‘Wanting to be liked is something just about anyone can relate to’

Looking back on it now, I see all of this as being part of something deep rooted in our human nature. Wanting to be liked is something just about anyone can relate to. Sure, it’s nice to have friends, but to have the status of best friend at such a young age, why – that’s a crown worth fighting for. And fight people did. Of course the power goes both ways. Being able to bestow the title of best friend upon someone is a power in itself. For those who care at least. And all of that for what?

By the time primary school has come to a close, and we move on to the next chapter in our lives, all of those friends and best friends were no more. Sure, there may be the exceptions to the rule here and there, but for the most part I think it’s safe to say that not many people would keep contact in that transition, yet the cycle was about to repeat itself again.

In secondary school, no longer would people argue over who were best friends. Obviously, these are big men and women we’re talking about, but cliques would begin developing, and certain people would ‘end up’ hanging out together every day. No longer was there to be, “You are my best friend!” There was now an unspoken code that indicated what remained unsaid.

Two tumultuous rifts in secondary school take place that test these friendships, however: Ordinary and Advanced Level exams.

CXC was a war that left some casualties. Some anxious to get out of the education system altogether would not return for A Levels. Others may not have made the cut, or even opt to go to a different school. Yet again I observed, for the most part, people splitting, with these friendships barely surviving.

‘Now we can have the illusion of friendship without all that pesky human interaction or having to actually care’

Of course, with Facebook this is no longer as blatant an issue. Now we can have the illusion of friendship without all that pesky human interaction or having to actually care. Score.

Even as adults, we see can draw parallels to high school behaviours. Some of us still move in cliques, with each member playing a role, while some of us like to count our friends on our fingers. With Facebook and Twitter giving us new ‘friends’ each day, the real question, beyond what’s the expiration date on our relationships, is how do we know when the line between real and fake friendship blurs? A good hint is to see which friends are with you at every junction on this journey called life. Granted, the obstacles that we face when we’re older tend to forge stronger relationships.

Looking back on it all, I can’t help but think that many of the friendships forged in primary school and secondary school were never what we may have thought they were. Some stand the test of time, or the test of not having to see a certain individual every day to have them considered a friend. Really, our ‘friendships’ would seem to be nothing more than coping mechanisms – seasonal, and with expiration dates.

This can likely be applied to anything where a group of people have to deal with the same thing, be it work, church, parenthood, etc. It’s no different than striking up a conversation with someone when you’re waiting to get your driver’s license.

“They taking long, eh?”

“Yeah boy, I dunno wham to dem!”

Then you get what you were there for, and go on with your lives. Had fun complaining with you, don’t care to know you, though.

Looking back on your school life, if there were people who were long-lost friends who you lost contact with after graduation, well, maybe you should reassess if they were even friends to begin with. Don’t feel bad, since it goes both ways. Then again, what do I know? I’m just an outsider looking in.


Evan Salina is a freelance procrastinator, attempting to do something nearly entertaining enough to include in a two-sentence bio. Follow him on Twitter @evan_s.

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