“Wormy,” one of the greatest SpongeBob episodes of all time, features a song called “That’s What Friends Do.” The lyrics read, “A friend is a friend till the end of the end / That’s forever and a day.” Hannah Montana — relatable teen by day, pop star by night — sang something similar in season two of the eponymous show: “You’re a true friend / You’re here till the end.”
Why so sentimental, you may ask? Well, during homecoming, I witnessed the reunion of my parents with dozens of the friends they made here at the College of William and Mary. Although my mom and dad — both alumni — frequently refer to college as the greatest times of their lives and their college friends as the best they’ve ever had, it’s entirely different to see said great times and friendships play out in person (especially when your mom has had quite a bit of Chardonnay).
During homecoming, my mom’s Chi Omega sorority sisters ate brunch together in Sorority Court and complimented each other on their minimal forehead lines. My dad and his Kappa Sigma big brother grilled food together at an epic homecoming tailgate (my dad in cargo shorts, I may add — his wardrobe is another thing that hasn’t changed over the past 30 years). Everywhere on campus, I saw reunions of old friends and the creation of new ones. There was laughter, love and lots and lots of homemade Bloody Mary’s. My dad’s tailgate in particular, full of ex-football players and fraternity brothers and their wives, could have been a scene from the 80s, only with higher quality alcohol and more receding hairlines.
Seeing friendships of 30-plus years granting my parents so much joy made me reflect on the friendships I’ve made during my own time at the College. Which friendships are worthy of an epic montage featuring sappy music, a la SpongeBob? With which “true friends” would I share the secret of my celebrity status if I were actually a pop star and could pull off a blonde wig with straight bangs? Although I have many surface friends, with whom I converse about celebrity gossip and Netflix recommendations, the number of people I see as a constant presence my life 30 years down the road is decidedly smaller.
My dad’s tailgate in particular, full of ex-football players and fraternity brothers and their wives, could have been a scene from the 80s, only with higher quality alcohol and more receding hairlines.
At the same time, this reflection has increased my desire to put more effort into the friendships I have. Which surface friendships are simply waiting for a night of deep conversation over chips and queso to make the transition into real, meaningful and rewarding relationships? Which ones are worth the extra time and commitment? Sometimes it’s not clear until you’ve really reflected. We’re talking Adele “Hello” music video deep, as you stare off into the distance with the wind swirling around you.
The point is, friendship is hard. It’s hard to grow and even harder to build, especially at a college where students have so little time to spare. Creating friendships to rival Ann and Leslie’s in Parks and Recreation is a challenge in such a busy environment, but as my parents have shown me, finding your own “beautiful, tropical fish” is worth it. If you choose friendships thoughtfully and work on them purposefully, you may find yourself at your own homecoming tailgate in a few decades, showing off your new hover car and sharing pictures of your genetically-engineered dogs (hey, who knows what the future may hold?). As for me, I plan to continue creating lasting friendships and putting effort into the ones that I have and value. If you haven’t found your school of beautiful, tropical fish quite yet, not to worry — there are many fish (and sponges who live in pineapples) in the sea.
Cameron Murphy is a Confusion Corner columnist who continues to hope that Miley will return triumphantly to her Hannah Montana role.