It’s not just love that we find in the most unexpected places—it’s also friendship. The “when” and “how” of unexpected friendships make great stories.
Unexpected friendships despite first impressions
Particularly when we figure out how wrong they were, our first impressions stay with us. This topic resonates with me, because I’m a pretty lousy judge of character. My my first impression of one of my dearest and oldest friends wasn’t good at all. When I first met her, I mentally dismissed her as potential friend material. I’m so thankful that my first impression wasn’t a lasting one.
Write about unexpected friendships that emerged from negative mental images. Was your initial judgment wrong or was it just incomplete? What caused you to give this person a second chance? Did your friend also have a negative impression of you?
Difference in temperaments
Did you ever have a friendship that grew out of a dislike? It’s not just the stuff of Harlequin romances. Clashing personalities can develop in close relationships.
Most of us have grown to like—even cherish—someone that we initially disliked. These stories of unexpected friendships make great stories! (Think about Felix and Oscar in The Odd Couple or the misanthrope Melvin and his neighbor Simon in the movie As Good as It Gets.)
Unexpected friendships despite differences in race
Slowly—very slowly—race relations in our society are progressing. But, for those who grew up in earlier decades (i.e. older folks), personal relationships between races was often a rocky road to navigate. Depending on our age and situation, we’ve had to overcome barriers of history, prejudice, and hurt to form close bonds. We’ve had to forgive and seek forgiveness.
How did (or do) you and your friend negotiate issues of race? How big of an elephant is race in the ‘room’ of your relationship? What did you learn from each other on the way?
When did this happen? Don’t forget to include historical context as you tell the story of your friendship. What was going on in the world, country or regions at the same time?
Issues of class
Class differences often present obstacles to friendships. Income, education, background, and position status separate us.
One of my family’s favorite stories is about a dinner thrown in honor a new fiancé. Looking over the beautiful table setting, the little brother of the host fingered the silver butter knife. All pretensions had to be dropped when he inquired, “What’s this? I’ve never seen it before.”
When you write about unexpected friendships, include what role issues of class played. Was there awkwardness or pretensions? Did you—or your friend—feel apologetic for their lack of education or position? How did you and your friend resolve those feelings? Again, be sure to provide historical information to provide texture to your story.
Write about why how it matters
All friendships matter. The question here, I guess, is how a particular friendship matters to you. Why is it significant? Did it notch a mark in your personal development?
Why should it matter to future generations? Did it come with a lesson—not to assume, presume, or pre-judge? Why was it unexpected at the time? Would it still be considered an unusual or unexpected friendship today?
When did you find an unexpected friendship? How would you write about it?