"But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them." ~Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
This is one of my favorite quotes from the entire Harry Potter series. No matter how many times I read those books, when I look back on my favorite parts, this one stands out. It's just so simple but so sweet and true. Any time I make a new friend or am faced with the challenge of making new friends, this quote comes to mind and makes me smile. If only there were more mountain trolls hanging around to help the rest of us make friends. That would make life easier.
So, how do you know when you've made a friend? At what point do you actually think of an acquaintance as a friend? I've always had a hard time making new friends, probably because my best friends took no effort at all. We all meet between preschool and the third grade, the perfect time in one's life for friend making. It's before you're old enough to be self conscious and shy, when making friends is as easy as trading Pogs and Beanie Babies. I don't even remember meeting my Lovettsville friends; they have just always been there. I have a vague memory of meeting Molly after she crashed her bike outside 'the cottage' behind Lovettsville Elementary school, but I'm not sure if it really happened. She does have a scar on her knee that could be evidence, or could be from any old trip on the black top or soccer game.
That's when it was easy. Kids don't know how good they have it. Once you hit high school everything's different. You start to actually look at yourself and you get self conscious. Unless you were anything like me and never quite realized how silly you looked on a day to day biases. I wore a cloth retainer case around my neck every single day of late elementary school through Middle school (it was green, big, and had beads on the strings) and I distinctly remember wearing a pair of bright yellow boy shorts (like actual guy's shorts, not the type of underwear) that had long strings that hung off from the waist almost to the ground up till my senior year of high school. I remember my first pair of actual girl jeans with a zipper and how uncomfortable they were. My favorite shirt was a gigantic tie dye one from Woodstock my grandma bought me in New York. It's a wonder anyone stayed my friend.
But this is not the point nor does it have anything to do with my question. How do you know when someone is really your friend? Since making new friends has always been hard for me, I think I over analyze the whole friend making process a tiny bit. When I got to college, I had a really hard time. My core Lovettsville friends were not around and I was lonely. It took me a long time to make new friends, but I was still in school, so that made it easier somehow. Nicole and I have a fictionalized account of when we first meet that's fairly hilarious, but that's just when we meet, not when we became friends. I don't know when we became actual friends. I guess I made friends with Nicole the same way I made friends with my Lovettsville gang, gradually, only this time I was old enough to notice it happening.
There are some instances where I can actually remember the moment. With the Triforce I don't remember the exact hang out session, but I remember knowing we had reached friend status. It was the first time we hung out after going to the Sigma Tau Delta Convention in Pittsburgh together. For all of you out there who don't know, that's the International English Honor Society I was a part of in college. Jen and Liz are both older than me, so I was automatically a little intimidated by the prospect of going on a trip with these cool girls I hardly knew beyond a few classes and our club. The Convention was SO much fun, we stayed up late talking every night, but that's not when I knew we were friends. It was after the Convention, when they still wanted to hang out with me. That's when I knew. I think we all got together and had a Harry Potter movie marathon. See, it all comes back to J.K Rowling in the end doesn't it?
More recently I've made friends with a bunch of the people I work with. I see them every day, so it's only natural we would become friends, right? I remember the exact moment I knew I was friends with this one girl. A bunch of people from work invited me out with them some random Thursday night. We all went to a bar and had some drinks, and eventually ended up back at the girl's boyfriend's house to spend the night. I was on the pullout bed. The next morning, the girl came out from the other room, plopped down on her stomach next to me, kicked her feet in the air and started to chat with me as if we had known each other for years rather than a month. That was it. Bam; friends.
Still, I wonder. At what point does a casual acquaintance become a friend? Is it the first time you talk about personal things together? Or is it the first time you are able to make a joke at their expensive without offence? The first time you hang out outside of where you meet (aka work, school, club)? Or does it not really matter? Should I probably not worry about who counts as a friend and who doesn't, because in the end friendship is not something you can plan or force? That's probably it.
I know that sometimes it's hard, sometimes it's easy. Some friendships spring from initial dislike, some are from admiration, others out of nowhere. You can find friends in common places like Marching Bands, Europe Trips, English Clubs and classes or random places like parties you don't want to be at, buses, facebook and prep kitchens. Who count's as a friend? Anyone you enjoy being around and who enjoys being around you. Right? It's that simple, I think. As simple as knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll in a girl's bathroom on Halloween.