In the fall of 1992 while waiting for my late bus home from school, another student waiting for her late bus kicked the back of my chair. To this day, she claims that I made a “bitchy” face when I turned to see what struck my seat, and since this is my blog and I get the final word, I will reiterate my stance and say that she is wrong. J Despite this initial misinterpretation, though, we grew to become friends. And in the fall of 1993, when we were both cast in the high school play, our friendship was solidified over the joint love of the song, Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison. I am not sure why this song specifically resonated with us, especially since neither of us have brown eyes; however, to this day, I cannot hear the song and not think of my oldest and dearest friend, Susan.
The Value of Friendship
For the past 21 years mine and Susan’s friendship like any strong relationship has had its shares of ups and downs as we have lived through fights, heartbreaks, growing up, going away to college, living in separate cities, getting married, becoming moms and everything in between. We recently got together for lunch to celebrate her birthday, and as it always happens, no matter how much time we have spent apart or how long it has been since we last spoke, when I am with Susan, I feel as though I am “home.” It is probably one of the greatest compliments I could give anyone. Over our three-hour lunch, we shared our various struggles as Type A, overachieving women in the pursuit of “having it all” and coming up short, and at the end, I felt as though I had just had a great session with a therapist. I got in my car, and immediately reflected on the “value” of my friendship, and how I think we all may suffer from “undervaluing” one of the greatest investments in our lives…true friendship. So in case you haven’t thought about this, here are some ways that my friends save or make me money over time.
I have never had an “official” therapist, and I don’t think I will ever need one as long as I have amazing, insightful friends who let me share my true self while not judging me, but rather trying to help me through my struggles. When I have issues with my family, my husband, or my son, I turn to my friends. And unlike a traditional therapist, they are there for me at all hours of the night, understand the nuisances of my relationship dynamics, call me on my b-s, and make me laugh at my “crazy” at the end of it. The average going rate for a therapist is around $150 to $250 an hour, so I figure my friends have saved me the price of a small house in mental health over the years.
Other Professional Services and Perks
Friends are not only great listeners, but sometimes, if you are lucky, they obtain day jobs that will provide unforeseen benefits to you as well. I have been fortunate over the years to have my taxes done for free by accountant friends, I have obtained legal guidance and contract review for free by attorney friends, I have attended sporting events in box seats thanks to banker friends, gotten into museums for free, enjoyed free dinners as a “client,” attended rock concerts and a myriad of other events. I did not become friends with these people for the benefits that they provided, but when you are close to someone, they naturally want to share their gifts with you.
I have visited, New York City (when I didn’t live there), Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte and a host of other cities with free accommodations thanks to my friends who have shared their homes with me. I would also typically save on ground transportation and food thanks to my “friendly” hosts. When I have traveled with friends where we don’t have a residential “host”, I have saved on hotel accommodations because we typically share hotel rooms and other trip costs.
As I mentioned last week, I can have fun with my friends at a minimal cost to my entertainment budget. I recently visited a friend in DC and over a $6 bottle of champagne and $4.50 frozen pizza (she got on sale with a coupon), we had an awesome night staying in and catching up. My friends are intelligent, well-read, insightful, hilarious, inquisitive and diverse. When this type of person surrounds me, there really is no reason to leave the house and spend money; because you have the best entertainment right next to you.
Health and Fitness
One of my favorite “work out” routines is a brisk walk and chat with a friend, you not only get that free therapy, but you get a free work out. I have also gone hiking, biking and swimming with friends to stay “active.” And even if we are not together, we have pushed and encouraged each other to train for races or lose weight by trying various apps or other sites available for free online.
Here are some pics of me and Susan over the past 21 years.
How long have you known your oldest friend? Is there a song that reminds you of this friend? Does he or she keep you financially fit like my friends?