Love of place, love of music, love of family, love of friends....
I've noticed that a number of popular television shows center on casts of friends. I wonder if it represents a shift from shows about families. In the Eighties, "Cheers" seemed to be unique in that it portrayed a loyal group of friends rather than a loyal family. But in the wake of "Friends" and "Sex and the City", today we have "How I Met Your Mother" and "The Big Bang Theory" among the other shows that advertise themselves on the television in the Historical House. And I am wondering if the fantasy of a family whose problems can be solved, forgiven and forgotten in 30 minutes has been replaced by the fantasy of a group of friends who never break up because their problems can also be solved, forgiven and (mostly) forgotten in 30 minutes.
Could it be that it has become romantic to have a big group of friends?
To be a migrant is to have part of your heart in one country and the other in another, and it is rare to feel that your heart is whole. This week my heart has been whole because for once I have been in Canada with B.A, who brings Edinburgh with him wherever he goes. The only time this trip I have pined for Edinburgh was Monday morning when I heard about the abdication and wanted desperately to organize an emergency dinner party so that my EF friends could gather together in an upper room (so to speak) and drink a lot of gin while we made sense of the business.
But otherwise I have been very happy and, having had a good visit with all my family, have begun to go out and find my Toronto friends.
Yesterday B.A. and I went to my Canadian theological school to see a priest friend, and we were summoned to his office for, said the receptionist, he said there was another friend there who'd like to see me.
What a surprise I got.
"Hello, Old One," said a twenty-something year old man in a chair.
"Hello, Small One," I said. "I mean, Young One."
Some years ago I was did an internship as an assistant college chaplain. Among the students who liked to hang out in the chaplaincy offices was a teenage discerner. Somehow we began to call each other "Old One" and "Young One." He says now that this is because I hated being thought of as old, and that there is nothing a teenage undergrad hates more than being reminded that he is young.
I am not so sure of this interpretation. Personally, I think young men love being cheerily insolent to older women if they can get away with it, and certainly I enjoy putting young men in their place, if only with the information that I am older and therefore naturally wiser than they. And, ironically, although Young One constantly called me Old One, he was the friendliest of the bunch, the one who most seemed to enjoy the company of the Old.
Amusingly, the sympathy between Young One and Old One led to the one-and-only-time I earned a professional rebuke for ministerial boundary-crossing. If I remember this correctly, I encountered Young One on his way to Mass during some college break, when almost all the undergrads but he had gone home. It may have been Easter Sunday. Afterwards I was going to lunch with a number of fellow theology students, including men of the religious order Young One was discerning, so on impulse I invited him along. Young One accepted the invitation with alacrity, as otherwise he would have had a boring and lonely afternoon, so off we went to lunch.
I do not remember how this came to the ears of my immediate supervisor. Perhaps, I told the supervisor myself. But I do remember I got a LECTURE.
Personally, I thought it ridiculous that it could be wrong to invite a bored and lonely undergrad to a restaurant Sunday lunch with a bunch of grad students of theology, some of whom were male religious a serious discerner quite naturally might like to meet. I speak as one who had already listened to no fewer than three seminars on Healthy Boundaries in Ministry. Of course you cannot get romantically or sexually involved with those to whom you minister, even if you are a Single laywoman, but we cannot allow paranoia to stop us from being friendly.
That is my one exciting story about Young One, who is now Young One, [Initial, Initial], and it reminds me of this article I wrote for the CR, which you might enjoy.
Single people, more than anyone else, must rejoice in their friends.