Julia Child and friendship

I finished Julie & Julia yesterday, and it was pretty good. A quick read, and very entertaining. My favorite part of the book was when she was talking about how sexy cooking – not just food, but cooking – is. And it made me realize that the only thing I like better than cooking for Mike something he really enjoys is cooking with Mike something he really enjoys. We made Kristen’s South of the Border Lasagne a few weeks ago, and it was fun to work in tandem. Plus, it was really good. I have to admit that I’ve never watched Julia Child, so I don’t have any strong connections to her or her book. A lot of the food simply sounded gross. But I understood that it wasn’t really about the food for Julie. It was about getting a purpose, getting focus at a time when a lot of things seemed uncertain for her. I had been looking forward to it since I first heard about it a few months ago, and it didn’t disappoint.

So at lunch today, I started The Friend Who Got Away, which has twenty essays about friendships that didn’t work out. I’m not very far into it, but it hooked me from the very first page:

You hear the name, and your heart starts to pound, your palms sweat. You catch a glimpse of a familiar face on the street and suddenly you find yourself sideswiped by memories better left forgotten. It may have been years since you last spoke, and yet it all comes back in a moment, the first giddy rush of talk, the shared confidences and sudden adventures, the certainty that your friendship could survive anything, and the startling heartbreak when it didn’t.

We all have one. A story about the friend who got away. A tale we replay on sleepless nights, turning it over in our minds, chastising ourselves for our cruelty or betrayal, our longing or jealousy. Sometimes we mourn the loss of a friend; other times we celebrate the break, but no matter what, we don’t forget it.

The loss of a friendship can be nearly as painful as a bitter divorce or death. And yet it is a strange sort of heartbreak, one that is rarely discussed, even in our tell-all society. Tales of disastrous loves about, but there is something about a failed friendship that makes those involved guard it like a shameful secret. Whatever happened to your friend? someone asks, and more often than not the answer comes back carefully crafted to give away nothing. We had a falling out. It’s complicated.

It’s interesting, because I think a lot of women do feel that way about failed friendships – as if they can’t really talk about them, as if no one will understand, exactly. I know I feel that way about the friendships I have that turned out badly. And yet, even if we don’t understand the specifics, we all do understand, because we know what it’s like to believe in a friendship only to see it fall apart.

When I met Mike, I told him I wouldn’t let our relationship get in the way of my friendships with my girl friends. I am sure that I let them down more than I realize, but it’s always been important to me that I have those friends. There have been times when I’ve had to realize that they didn’t feel the same way, just as I am sure they felt I let them down. But it’s a hard topic to discuss, because I only know my own perspective. I don’t always get to know what she thinks happened, how I hurt her. Sometimes those things are discussed, sometimes not. But I’m looking forward to this book, because it’s such an interesting topic.

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