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With a little help from my friends

August 10, 2016
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

We're in the throes of Friendship Week, kicked off Sunday with Friendship Day. I challenged myself this week to write the column of my life, and I looked to a set of essays on friendships past young adulthood from the New?York Times, New York Magazine, and the New York Post for inspiration. Unfortunately, those are about friendships in New York.

I?have friends in New York. They are all either former (or in one case a future possible director) cast or crew members of my play or actually Iowa people who moved to New York to pursue their dreams of musical glory.

My best friend is my 20 year old daughter, Caitlyn. She has long and sometimes odd working hours and described how difficult it was to find friendships in Texas, where she now lives.

I suggested a few venues in which she might meet people and said, "I'll always be here to be your best friend, but I?really think you need friends your age, and

the friends you've had in Iowa have certainly benefited from having you as a friend."

She surprised me by saying, "I'd love to be closer to you - to all of you,"?sort of like she'd love for us to move to Texas.

Caitlyn will come into her own, especially when she returns to school where she's studying to eventually become a pilot.

I?read a lot of essays about why it's hard to make friends of a certain age. Some of it is priorities. We put our spouses, children, parents, siblings above our friendships. If we have to cancel with a friend and catch up later, it's okay, whereas it's far more difficult to skip out on our father's birthday or our child's ball game.

Plenty of new people enter your life through work, children, and Facebook. But actual close friends, whom you'd call upon in a crisis, those are in shorter supply.

As schedules compress and priorities change, we're far more picky about what we want in friends.

The period for making the bff kinds of friends we make in our teens or early 20s is over by age 30 or so, according to these essayists.

For someone coming new into a small town, I?think it is even more that way. While some younger people report that most of their friends and classmates moved away, and as they grow their families they become more of a priority, I've also met people who moved back to Estherville because their true friends are still here.

As we move into midlife, according to Laura L. Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center on Longeivity in California, we tend to interact with fewere people, but we grow closer to the friends we already have.

Sociologists have defined three conditions crucial to making close friends:?proximity, repeated, unplanned interactions, and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other. Once we're out of school and college, those conditions become hard to maintain.

Even in the workplace, we can't count on proximity for a long period of time:?many people move on from jobs routinely after a year or two.

Some in Generation X and beyond report lowering their expectations of friendship, seeking activity partners to ease the loneliness and allow them to get out and do the things they want to do.

Speaking of friendship, in ten days there's a happening in which, at least for a moment, but I hope longer, we can all be friends. A Day of Peace in Estherville is Aug. 21 from 1-3 at Library Square. Be at peace with us.



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