Friends by Default

My best friend growing up was this kid named Josh. We were friends up until the third grade and I don’t really know what spawned our friendship. When you’re young, friendships are formed based on the most innocuous things. For Josh and me, I believe it was Pokemon cards and our mutual distaste for playing outdoors. We were both in Boy Scouts and both endured the ridicule of our class bullies.

Josh is now married and still living in my hometown. I haven’t spoken to him in years, but if I ever see him when visiting my parents, we say hi and are on good terms.

Most of my childhood friendships were friendships by default. Friends by default are the kind of friends you have growing up who you did not choose because of actual shared interests, but because of geographic proximity. The shared interests develop later. Josh was a friend by default. We were in the same class, but he lived far away. When he left the school, we stopped being friends.

I had another friend by default who lived nearby. We had very few shared interests besides the love of basketball. He was one of the cool kids who had a lot of charisma and had a lot of potential. He now has some boring job and lives comfortably in the Midwest.

The friends I make as an adult are rarely accidental. As an adult, you have to make an effort to cultivate a platonic relationship. It gets more difficult as you get older and your interests become narrower and more specialized. Most of my grandmother’s friends shared interests are tennis and being old.