Regardless of gender, age, background or ethnicity, there seems to be a universal pleasure in talking about friendship. It makes sense given that research has shown again and again that having a friend improves mental and physical health. In a culture enamored with a focus on romantic love, friendship is less the focus but a special and steadfast kind of love. Reflecting a popular trend, florists and restaurants are pitching to a broader concept of people to honor as having special meaning in our lives.

The history of Valentine’s Day is believed to echo back to about 500AD when it became part of the liturgical calendar for the Catholic religion commemorating martyred saints named Valentine. From that point, legends abound with the symbolism of fertility, and on to Chaucer and romance depicted in poems and songs. It ceased to be a religious day in 1969 but has nonetheless held a place in contemporary culture. It is morphing to behold the best of who people can be to each other.

From age 8 ½ to 84, South Boston weighed in easily on thoughts of friendship.  Here are some comments shared with seriousness and joy:

Elise, age 8 ½:

“It is important to have a friend, so you won’t be lonely or sad. I have a lot of friends and it is much more fun.”

Kate, age 9:

“It’s important. The way you can be a friend is to include someone, so they aren’t lonely. I have a best friend, and other friends and then new friends, too. It’s sad if people don’t feel included and that’s what friends do.”

Sky, age 17:

“I have a best friend named Danyla. I think it is mostly important because you need someone you can pour your heart out to, and then just hang out and have fun. It’s good to have someone by your side, and you can talk to about anything, literally. Boyfriends and girlfriends can come and go, but a friend is lasting. I try to be a good friend and I take it seriously.”

Thanos, age 28:

“I have a big circle of friends in Greece, where I come from. Some I knew since I was in sixth grade. It is unconditional and a different kind of bond. You can talk in times of need. In romantic love, there are constraints and expectations, and in the bond of friendship there is give and take, too, but it’s different. I can talk to a friend I haven’t seen in awhile and just start talking right away, and we rely on each other.”

Megan, age 26

“I work right here with Destiny who I consider my best friend. I didn’t have friends growing up. It is nice to have someone to talk to who is loyal. That’s a good friend. I know I can trust and laugh with her.

Destiny: “Megan has razzle -dazzle in life. I have it a little but not like her. I’m getting there and she makes me laugh!”

Kasie, age 31:

“Having a best friend is important to me because it is like family, but we can talk about anything, and I go to her when I need reassurance. My best friend is Kelli, and actress in New York City. We met in kindergarten. She’s more of an extrovert and I have a dryer sense of humor, so we are different. She says I bring her reality and she makes me laugh. The distance doesn’t matter. We didn’t go to the same schools or colleges but every time we get together its like being kids again.”

Michael, age 37:

“Friendship is about support. It’s an emotional thing. Having someone to talk to and who can understand. My best friend is Brian. My mother and his mother were best friends, and we were born a month apart, so that’s how long it’s been. He sticks by me and is my roommate, too, and we have the same hobbies. The thing about a romantic relationship is that it can be here today and gone tomorrow, but friendship is more solid. It’s been 37 years now that I have had him as friend, and I don’t doubt that it goes all my life.”

Maura, age 43:

“I have many friends, but I would say my sister, Kara, is my best friend. Yes, it is important every step of the way. It enriches life and makes it easier to get through life. We are alike but also different and that is good. She is older and wiser, but we give each other perspective. Friendship is lasting and a special, reliable communication.”

Julio, 45

“We all need people for different reasons. For me it is about trust and respect. Love doesn’t have to include intimate physically. It is someone you have an understanding with. It doesn’t matter what background, rich or poor or anything superficial, but it is a quality of being known. I work with plants and it’s the same with people.  Your heart grows, and joy comes with something you love and care for. Friendships don’t have to be many but a deep quality. “

Kim, 53

I have two best friends, Erin and Gina. Gina dates to college. A good friend changes life for the better. You can pick up the phone anytime. I think it is good to focus on friendships all through life. Sometimes, even if you have a partner, that person may not completely understand at a given time, and a friend brings something different.”

Gail, age 84

“Without friendship you are not living a life. Friends are not necessarily family, but chosen, and become like family. Trust is needed to be and have a friend because your real self is known. Sometimes you are judged but not criticized, and a real friend can point out something about you that you don’t see in yourself. A friend can be older, younger and many differences don’t matter, but you have to have the same sense of humor. I have two friends, Carol who lives here, and Roxanne, in New York. We know what we have been through and have “inside jokes” we refer to for many years. I can count on them and share pain and humor. Friendship really has a lot of the qualities of what a good long-term marriage can be. Good friends are forever, thankfully.”

Happy Valentine’s South Boston friends! (The author can be reached at



South Boston Hearts and Flowers


Megan and Destiny