You know what my FAVORITE relationship is in books? It isn't romance. It's not parents. It's not siblings... On occasion it's grandparents (but more on that tomorrow), but my favorite dynamic—the one with the most fantastic possibilities, is FRIENDSHIP. I think the REASON is that I have some fantastic FRIENDS.
I don't have any real complaints about my family (mother issues aside). In fact I have a fabulous family, albeit filled with freaky quirks. We're not however, short on flaws or neuroses, and THAT is probably why I have always ALSO needed my friends.
When I was in graduate school was my first exposure to the term 'Families of Choice'. Sometimes, even though families have to love and accept us, they don't. But friendships form families with foundations built in love, trust, shared experience—and for any of us with flawed families, which I think is everyone, they can provide a place for that unconditional acceptance we all need.
In my own family, I've never felt unaccepted (except by my mom's refusal to introspect a little when it is desperately needed, and her unwillingness to accept my husband's personhood, but that is, as I said, my only real issue), but there are some skills I NEVER would have learned there.
Foot in Mouth as Fashion: There are two kinds of people in my family. Those that say whatever comes to mind, no matter how rotten, and those who never say a THING no matter how necessary. In between there is an area called 'gentle truth' where a person says what is necessary if it will improve life or relationships, but not MORE because it's just mean to do so. I NEVER would have conquered this among family. (In fact conquering it is why my mother isn't speaking to me—how dare I tell her she needs to learn to be nice or she will alienate her grandkids?)
Fabulous Food: My grandma made the standards well, but I come from Seventh Day Adventists on one side (creative cooking anyone? No meat, but without the Asian/Indian/Italian fallbacks I would take were I to give up meat), and Norwegians on the other (no offense, Mari—other than the sweets, this is not my food of choice). Growing up I was convinced I didn't like any foods mixed together, and there was a LONG LIST of things I didn't like. What do you know... it was just how they were prepared... Friends have filled me in on HOW TO EAT.
Fun and Frolick: Like the foot in mouth versus silent dilemma, I also have alcohol abusers and tea totallers with nobody capable of a nice middle ground. Judgment from both ends (then again, this party girl decided young which set looked more fun, so I was just as judgmental for a good long time). In fact though, there are some people out there who don't fall into either extreme... Baffling.
I'd like to think I am a fierce and faithful friend. I've had people I love go through the trenches, and a few of them, I've pulled back out myself. I am a Cancer, and the story with we crabs, is we will lose a limb before letting go. It's true. Once in my life, you have a permanent spot, and I will go to the mat for you. It makes it very disappointing if someone is needed and doesn't come through, but it also makes for truly deep bonds.
We talk about writing as solitary, but I never finished anything long when I was writing into a void. Feedback from friends filled my confidence and fueled the fires. Fan Fiction formed the foundation, but only because I met others also driven to write, who liked what I wrote and kept encouraging me.
Do you know what the most fun thing about this Cozy gig (that I should hear about this week or next) is? I am getting to write about best friends. The MC is the 'straight' to the over-the-top, outrageous best friend. Man, am I having fun writing both the FRIEND and the FRIENDSHIP. There are some people who get themselves in a bind now and again (including people who end up in the middle of murder investigations) and it is a FUN dynamic to explore.
My other books all seem to have friendship at the core, too (and the periodic false friends, just to keep life and literature interesting)
I think this is one of the reasons I like the Harry Potter series so well. Youth Fiction seems to keep the friendships front and center. Even an egomaniacal genius like Artemis Fowl ends up with tight friendships (after all, experiencing life threatening events together can do that).
So what is your favorite Fictional friendship? I want to know!
And because I'm bad...