I read a comment somewhere that said sometimes the end of a friendship hurts more than the end of a romance. I don’t know much about the latter but I can attest to the former. For that matter I just love a good friendship story, with all the drama and the ups and downs but most importantly with the heart for the friendship. The intent to fight for it.
So it’s probably no surprise that I ended up reading ‘Rules for visiting’ by Jessica Francis Kane. I like the way the story starts. She sees the incomplete statement ‘A best friend is…’ and can’t find the right words to define one. Not then anyway but she wonders a lot about her friendships till she moves out to try and reconnect with her friends. To find out ‘who’s near’.
Yet spending time with friends is one of the first things we drop when life gets busy.Rules for visiting.
The character takes the time to ponder the benefits of friendship, cites research that says friends are necessary for high levels of happiness and generally good health (if you can believe that). And she argues that if this is good for your health, why don’t we treat keeping in touch like a health directive the same way we watch our diets and work out. Of course hanging out doesn’t have the same allure if you are treating it like ‘doctor’s orders’ but you get the point.
You make time for the things that matter to you. I think with how much this has been repeated, it’s safe to say we understand that one fact. Forget the wild happy night outs where nobody is going to share anything of substance. Those restricted to two hours max, and sometimes that’s all just warm-up time for honest conversation.
Obviously from the title, it’s safe to assume she makes it to some of her friend’s homes. With the desire to see them in their natural habitat, as far removed from public pretenses as people can possibly get. During the course of her visits, she wonders what it says about a people that don’t invest in a guest bedroom, as though having people over is a burden and the last thing on our minds.
There are definitely rules for visiting though she admits that she doesn’t always understand the rules and I found myself agreeing with that. Sometimes I also don’t know the rules of engagement with friends. Which topics are safe which ones are off limits? How much is imposition and how much is mutual interest?
Of course there are unspoken rules. The first one being ‘don’t overstay your visit’. But visit. Take the chance, be uncomfortable, see their homes, learn a lot more about them simply from observing. Put in the time to groom the friendships you would love to have.
It should go without saying that I enjoyed the book (but it doesn’t hurt to affirm it), it got me thinking and who doesn’t like a book like that! Rather than waiting till all you have are regrets of the time you didn’t spend together, take the time now.