I know a lot of people, many of them friends. But when I think about it, not all of them are friends; they are really acquaintances. They are people I’ve met through many of the interests I have and who I see off and on, some more frequently than others. Well then, who are your true friends? Are they people who you see more often? Are they people who would do anything in the world for you? And if they are, is it because they owe you a favor? Is that really friendship … or a sort of a business deal that doesn’t involve any material product, but rather some other kind of favor?
I’ve just spent a few days with Trudi. You might remember her from my memoir, Becoming Alice; she’s the little girl with whom I came to this country. I grew up with her in Portland, Oregon and our families were very close. That friendship was cemented when, as newly arrived refugees in America, no one else accepted us as we were. In fact we were different. We were different from all those around us, whether they were Anglo-Saxon, Italian, Jewish, are any other ethnic group. There was nobody quite like the small group of Jewish immigrants who had escaped from Hitler’s murderous European grasp. We were traumatied for sure and it took us a long time to get to even keel.
Clinging together as refugees allowed us to get to know each other very well under very stressful conditions without covering up our true natures. Despite all the internal jealouses and conflicts amongst ourselves, we forgave one another and continued to stick together. Our friendships survived.
There are not many people who know me with all of my faults, my weaknesses, my scars, my shortcomings. Trudi is one of them and she accepts me as I am. How lucky to have her, along with perhaps another handful of people, who I consider as more than friends.