To have a good friend is the purest of all God’s gifts, for it is a love that has no exchange of payment. It is not inherited, as with a family. It is not compelling, as with a child. And it has no means of physical pleasure, as with a mate. It is, therefore, an indescribable bond that brings with it a far deeper devotion than all the others. – Frances Farmer
Friendship. From the time we’re young children we seek it out, looking for our “people”. We crave connections and understanding. We long for relationships that we can count on to see us through the rough times and celebrate along with us during the happy times. We look for those who make us laugh, keep our secrets, and embrace our crazy!
I remember as a child we moved into a new home during the summer before second grade. As luck would have it, a new house was being built next to ours and shortly after we moved in, a family with a girl my age moved right next door! I vividly recall seeing them arrive on the day they were viewing what would become their new house. For some reason I decided I would try to impress them with my bike riding skills. I hopped on my royal blue bike with the white banana seat and flower-covered basket. It was the seventies and my bike was the coolest! Slowly I started out, glancing down at the family wandering the property. They didn’t seem to notice me. I’ll ride faster, I thought. I started picking up speed. “Look at that girl on the bike”, they’ll say. “She seems like the kind of girl we’d like our daughter to be best friends with”!
I raced around and around in a circle on our driveway, occasionally mixing it up and executing a perfect figure eight. Faster, faster, faster I went! I was really flying now! White wall tires blurred against the concrete! This family will surely be impressed with my mastery in conquering the two-wheeled beast! As I continued to ride, the family next door finished viewing the outside and was slowly making their way up the front steps. I made another fancy figure eight then glanced over to see if they were watching. YES! They were watching! They HAD to be impressed! I just knew I was going to make a lifelong friend out of that little blonde girl next door! My bike riding skills had secured my spot as her new best friend!
In hindsight, taking my eyes off my path to glance over at the family next door was
probably possibly definitely a bad idea. I rounded the final curve of my figure eight and quickly realized I had taken the corner too fast! Panicking, I tried to avoid the inevitable and jerked the handle bars in the opposite direction in a vain attempt to avoid the fall. In a split second all my dreams of finding a bestest best friend before the first day of school came crashing to the ground! I think I heard the mom next door utter something like “Oh my goodness” but it was drowned out by the pounding humiliation ringing in my ears. Quickly I picked myself up, bloody knees and all, and rolled my bike into the garage. I sulked in my room for what seemed like days.
Shortly after “the bike incident”, the family moved in. The funny thing is, as vivid as the memory of that day on my bike is, for the life of me I can’t remember when I became friends with the blonde girl next door whose name, I came to learn was Andrea. I’m sure it must have been sometime over the summer… after I had recovered from my humiliation, obviously. In any event, we DID become fast friends. We DID become bestest besties. I have memories of sleepovers and days spent playing Barbies on the lawn. Andrea had a Barbie Dream House with an elevator in it and I was SO jealous! We grew up together, discovered boys together, learned how to drive, and exchanged notes in class (yes people, notes on REAL paper, folded like little triangle footballs so we could “punt” them to each other when the teacher’s back was turned). We laughed, cried, fought, made up, and got into mischief… well, I got into mischief. Somehow Andrea never got caught! We were even the first girls in our high school to wear miniskirts and leg warmers! Don’t judge. It was the eighties! Highschool came and went, followed by college, marriage, babies, and now grandchildren and we’re still friends! She says she has to stay friends with me to help remind her about all the things we did in our youth!
Lifelong friendship. What a gift. If you can have one true friendship that spans the decades, consider yourself blessed. I am incredibly lucky to say that I have more than one. Enter Tina.
It was seventh grade. Two shy twelve-year old girls were assigned seats directly across from one another in Mr. Bergum’s English class. My life would never be the same! We were both petite, quiet, and slightly nerdy. We bonded immediately. Tina and I had this cool trick of being able to talk to each other with just our eyes. Somehow, we always knew what the other was thinking and we’d often have to stifle our laughter in class. We could tell our teacher always thought we were up to something, but he could never catch us! Together we learned the art of “cruising”, a long-abandoned tradition of weekend evenings spent driving slowly around and around and around a city block or “loop” as we called it, in an effort to ‘see and be seen’ by the opposite sex. We’ve talked each other through heartache and breakups. We’ve been each other’s cheerleaders, encouraging one another through life’s ups and downs.
Tina has always been able to bring out the silly in me. She’s been known to break out in spontaneous dance in public and I love her for that! I’ve always been too concerned with what other people think but as I get older Tina inspires me to dance like no one is watching… because they’re not; they’re all on their phones!
Over the years people have come in and out of my life and each has a purpose. I have had the opportunity to meet and befriend some incredible people who have touched my life in unique and special ways. Some stay a moment and some stay for years. I believe it’s our connections with others that help us grow into the people we are. Life gets busy. We fall out of touch. Time passes. Suddenly you realize it’s been weeks or even months since you’ve spoken with your friends. I get it. I really do. We lead incredibly busy and demanding lives. There is always a “to do” list. The needs of others are often put before our own. We rise in the morning and rest at night. Our days are filled with errands and emails, texts and carpools. We rush around trying to get everything done and please everyone, but are we taking time to really connect?
When was the last time you actually picked up the phone and called a close friend? I don’t mean a text or a Snapchat. I’m not talking about “tagging” someone in a Facebook post. When was your last, genuine and heartfelt conversation? I’m not judging. I’m often guilty of letting life get in the way of living. But wouldn’t it be something if we paused a moment and made a sincere attempt to live an authentic life, connecting with the people around us? Here is my challenge for you; unplug for a while. Step off the merry-go-round that is social media. Pick up the phone. Don’t let the sound of a text message or chime of an Instagram notification deter you from your mission. Stay steadfast and undistracted from your goal. Remember the show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”? When the contestant got stuck for an answer they were given the option to phone a friend. DO IT! Friends are there for you! They talk you through tricky situations. They support you and lift you up. They make you laugh. They laugh along with you, and sometimes at you! Phone a friend! Let yourself get lost in conversation! Laugh! Cry if you need to. Connect! It’s not too late. Phone a friend. Phone two friends! And while you’re at it, call your mom. You’ll be glad you did! xo