*This is the seventh in my mini-series on stories of my past that define me. I’ll write these periodically, as the ideas flow. Enjoy.*
M remarked to me recently that he feels like I have SO MANY friends. Especially compared to him, as he considers just a few close friends as just that: friends.
I found his statement interesting, because I too consider myself to have a handful of close friends as well as a circle of all of YOU in this home I’ve cultivated here that truly ‘get’ me. That don’t make me feel compelled to compromise, to censor myself, to walk on eggshells, to feel short-changed. Real, solid, friends. Sister-friends, if you will.
Let’s start at the beginning.
My very first best friend was a girl I met in Kindergarten. Her name is Tali (and yes, we still keep in touch, though, relatively loosely as she is a missionary in Guatemala and Haiti!) and to this day, I truly believe she is who ‘taught’ me how to have a sense of humor. And to cultivate my own sense of humor, with a dash of wit and sarcasm. She is, to this day, still one of the funniest people I know (and actually, now that I think about it, her humor mirrors M’s quite a bit. I bet they’d get along so well…). But beyond humor, she ‘got’ me, even back when we were 6 or 7 years old. We had each other’s back at the playground, we stood up for each other, and we were always together. She is also one of the first friends I made that I felt was ‘my’ friend and not ‘our’ friend (given my sisters and I shared virtually all of the same friends, often, they were ‘our’ friend, not Jess’s or Jen’s or mine, but Tali? Was my friend first and foremost).
Tali and I stayed close friends all the way through middle school and into high school, even after we were no longer classmates (after fourth grade). But what united us was the ability to pick up where we left off, even if it were one month, one year, or even more. There were never apologies needed. There was never the need to feel like you ‘owed’ each other a reason why it had been awhile since we’d last gotten together. Life simply happens, and when you can keep in touch and get together when you can and really value that time together? That’s friendship.
And that friendship and what I learned from her over all of those years (reuniting once again after my divorce, and talking all through that, and talking all about her own love and life experiences) really set the tone for what I deem the friendship foundation: mutual respect, love, give-and-take, and simply for it to be effortless. For you both to WANT to make the time for each other, to make each other a priority. To honor each other’s life paths and goals and desires. To listen, and not always immediately advise, or provide an opinion. To laugh. Friendship is happiness, and when it is no longer happy, friendships evolve.
It took me a long time to realize that friendships evolve and that it’s okay if you come to a point where you realize that you have outgrown a friendship, or that friendship is no longer enjoyable for you, or for them. Where there is more strife, tension and negativity, than laughs, caring and respect.
The friendships I hold dear to me now are those that I consider sister-friends, that ‘get’ me, that understand why I live my life the way that I do, in every single way. Because that’s exactly how I treat those friends as well. Respect what they do, love them for who they are, and that friendship will thrive for as long as it’s meant to.