Rachelle and I meet for breakfast a few times a year to catch up, laugh, talk about nothing as well as business, and just enjoy each other’s company. Today one of our topics was friendship.
For me, friends are my family. I have a small “real” family that’s scattered around the country; my friends here in Denver make up my family circle. The saying goes that if you have five “real” friends then you’re blessed. I know I’m blessed. I may not have as many friends as some people, but I do have those whom I can count on to be there for me; they in turn know I’m there for them.
Rachelle’s turning 50 in January and she’s like a little kid: her dress is already being designed! (I’m turning 60 and I may just wear my sweats! ) On Rachelle’s 40 she threw a celebration that most people might throw for their 50th wedding anniversary or wedding reception. It was indeed a bash! I don’t remember how many people were there, maybe 60. Today she told me that a majority of them aren’t in her life today. I know that’s true of all of us. We meet people and they come into our lives for a reason then leave for myriad reasons: moved out of town, lost interest, got married and had babies – their focus changed – went through something traumatic or dramatic and couldn’t make the effort anymore.
We also talked about a best friend, other than a spouse or life partner. I have several close friends, but no “best friend.” Rachelle agreed. She’d had a best friend, “We had a falling out and we don’t see each other anymore.” Since that friend left her intimate circle of influence, she too has a blank “best friend” picture frame. This doesn’t mean that we’re lonely or odd, desperate or searching. It’s just that category of friends is “on vacation,” for the time being.
We count on our friends to be there for us. Friends help us out when we need not only hugs and laughter, but also to share experiences with, tell stories to, gossip with, travel with and be silent with for those moments of just togetherness. Books and movies make friendships look like diamonds, and yet, friends, like us, have foibles and warts along with their diamonds and other jewels. They may let us down, piss us off, ask too much – or too little, etc. We ask our friends to be “perfect,” and when our expectations aren’t met, then we think it’s them, not us. Nope, it’s us.
When my father died 20+ years ago, I was disappointed when I didn’t hear from some people whom I expected to console me. My friend Rick told me, “Don’t set up expectations and you won’t be disappointed.” For me that’s not in my chemistry. Friends deal with the world differently than we do. If we put our value system, expectations, needs and wants on them, then we may find that we are not only disappointed, but that the friend needs time “away.”
My beloved childhood friend, Emily, isn’t an outreach type of friend like I am. I know that that’s her personality and I accept it. Does it hurt me? Yes, and I get over it knowing that she’s always, always going to be my friend. I may want something different from her; I accept the friendship that she does provide. We’ve been good friends for over 50 years.
Friendships are magic. Friendships create thunder and lightening, and sunshine and clear skies. Daily I’m thankful for the friends I have, for their love, support and laughter. They show me another perspective in life, which can be funny, revealing and/or succinct. They keep me going during the dark days as well as the brilliant days.
Let your friends know that you love them. Let them know that you’re thinking of them. Send cards. I recently received an eight-page letter – a real letter – from my boarding school roommate. Wow, that was such a great gift. When I’m out of town next week, I’m going to use the Westin Hotel stationery to write back. No e-mail, an actual long letter. (I just hope she will be able to read my handwriting!) Her letter let me know that I’m still in her life even though we haven’t seen each other in decades, nor talked on the phone, nor e-mailed; the friendship remains. I’m so thankful for her and that letter. Both are a treasure.
Long-distance friends hear from me for virtual cocktail hours, e-mails and cards. I love cards. I help Halmark’s stock soar and not just during holidays. I may purchase $35 worth of cards in one standing; laughing at some of them and knowing that one card has a special friend’s name on it. The old telephone company’s tag line used to be, “Reach out and touch someone.” I know that touching can be a phone call, e-mail – so easy to keep in touch, a “just because card,” and/or a special thought. Now with Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, et al, people from around the world know what you’re up to. But, let those special friends, that small and mighty circle of influence, know they’re special.
I know it makes my day when someone let’s me know they’re thinking of me. Thanks to you who do so.