Being a real life cougar, I tend spend a lot of time with a significant other who is from a different decade. This is usually fun for me, because he keeps me on my toes, but sometimes--well, sometimes I just feel the need to talk to someone closer to my own age. There's no need to explain references, no need to explain physical limitations, no teasing about my reading glasses/bifocals/et al. Lucky me, I have those people in my life, and they constantly remind me of the true value of friends.
Let me just say the bald truth, I am not a great friend. I spend too much time being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the schemes and plots of my life. It takes a lot of energy to be risk taker. I don't have a whole lot of it to go around. Unfortunately, my tendency to jump off cliffs trying to see if I can fly precludes me getting overly close to any one person. I would not be the best person to call if your house is on fire, but if I find out and get there, I can be formidable in removing all obstacles from your path. I am a whirlwind once I can fit you in to my schedule <sigh>. I know. I'm still working on it. My sister is a great friend to her friends. I try to emulate her.
So though I am often not a good friend, I do recognize a good one when I see one. I saw three great ones last night. They took me to dinner, bought champagne to celebrate my books, and teased me about reading only the sex scenes until they had me blushing. Yes, blushing. Me. The one who wrote the scenes was blushing. Lesson learned: It is one thing to write a scene for a stranger who will buy the whole story and quite another to have friends reading them to husbands and saying "Donna wrote this--Can you believe she wrote this?" Now how am I going to look those men in the eye next time I see them? I'm going to have to get one of those tee shirts warning them to be careful how they treat me or they might end up in my novel. Teasing! Okay, mostly teasing.
Last night I laughed. I cried. I was happy--happier than I have been in a couple of years. And that's why I tried to show the importance of the friendship in these first stories. Love, romance, and a hot guy who knows where all the right buttons are is really good to have. But when you are over 50, cynical, and weary of life's trials, there is nothing, literally nothing, like the hug of someone who puts all their energy into wishing the best for you.