It was fall 2004, Creative Writing 201 had forced two lives to converge, two lives that couldn’t be any different found a common thread that semester. I had fought the decision made by my degree program to retake another writing class, since I had full-filled my writing requirements from the accredited private school I had transferred from. Looking back I am thankful that I had take the class for many reasons…
The assignment was simple, write a story based on favorite memory. My very recent engagement made the top of the list and I began to pour my heart over the pages as glimpses of that night faded in and out of the steel box that would hold them until it was opened to be shared with friends, family, children, and grandchildren.
A trip to the Notre Dame football field to see the team play with her mom, brother and sisters was painted so well that I swear I could smell the crisp fall East Coast air and the hot brawts being served. I never watched football a day in my life, never had the desire to sit and watch a ball be thrown and grown men tackled to the ground. Yet here was a young woman who breathed the game, who would give anything to have remnants of the field pulsing through her veins.
We talked, only at the surface level. She had lived her whole life in the big city, I on a small island. Commonalities were sparse, so it seemed.
I quickly found myself burnt out on “friendships”. Was it the fact I had spent my whole life drawn to the other side, rarely allowing any females in my space? I had grown up with boys in my class, church, family circles, and learned how to have friendships with the opposite sex. Friendships with girls took work, came with emotional roller coasters, games, etc. If I had a fight with one of my “brothers” we said sorry and got over it. If I had a fight with one of my girlfriends, my attempt at saying sorry and moving, not hashing it out, was my downfall.
Our classes kept merging together, even though we had different majors, we still found ourselves in class after class. Soon the talk dug a little deeper. The invite to hang out was given countless times. My past record with picking city people to befriend was 0 for 2 and my fiancé was not ready to play nice with fast moving people again.
For whatever reason, whether it was the need to have connection outside of my husband or the fact that this girl was everywhere, with her bubbly laugh and inviting smile, I said yes and put on a brave face and stepped out of my comfort zone again.
After just one night of hanging out at her sister’s, her’s and the sister’s new fiance’s apartment, I soon learned that not all city people were “city” people.
Our friendship is one that took its time to form, that allowed the waters to be tested and when the walls were put down, souls were revealed and a bond was formed.
Every friday night became “family” night. We would switch it up and meet at restaurants, apartments, and our house. We were a rowdy bunch, loved to laugh, loved to breathe in life, loved to play games and even though our roots could stretch from Alaska all the way to Michigan, we were a family.
Soon my life’s chapters reached their ending and allowed new ones to be written. Richard and I went from being the engaged couple, to the married couple, to the pregnant couple…
There we were standing on different sides of the tracks. It would have been easy to jump and bail, the reasons were stacked against our friendship. Yet, we stood on other sides staring at one another, smiling, embracing each other’s differences.
She graciously planned my baby shower with all of our friends, most of whom weren’t even in a serious relationship. But that was her, the planner. We all looked to her every friday night to decide what our big plans were for the weekend.
When I found myself dealing with the changes of motherhood she came and brought me chinese food and held my little guy while I ate a hot meal.
When the sudden move to our hometown required a frantic pack to be completed in 2 wks, she came, stuffed boxes, held a baby, walked away with a box of frozen food as a reward, the chicken lasted forever for her ;)…when it came time to say good bye it was brief, quick, left little time for emotions to well up inside as we severed the tie that had become strong as I changed in many forms before her eyes.
It would have been easy to say good by and move on. Out of sight, out of mind right?!?
We found ways to maneuver around the distance, thanks to texting and then the realization that FB was kind of cool, we reached out.
I have been waking recently, with a deep heavy sadness. I am longing for the warm sunny days of sitting by the pool with her, sharing dinner at Pei Wei, or just sitting and watching the office. I think about how easy it was to be around her, to share my heart. Our differences never drove us away from each other, but instead closer. Republican vs. Democrat, christ-follower vs. undecided, working woman vs. homemaker, etc. She was the very first person to know about each pregnancy with the girls, she rejoiced each time after the diagnosis of Ezzy, telling me that I could do it, no matter the outcome.
The years have come and gone, the two young women who had the world at their finger tips are now living the good life. She is married to a wonderful man, a man that gets her. She is using that super smart brain of hers and doing what she does best, planning and telling people what to do. I am nursing yet another child, making a home and finding my way in the curve balls that have been thrown. Yet that bond, those differences reconfigured into a deep lasting friendship.
10 yrs later, I still call her one of my best friends. She is one of my longest friendships with females.
Isn’t this what we all long for in frienships? Don’t we want to sit across from someone and know that our hearts were heard, received and not discounted. Don’t we all want to know that as the seasons of life come in waves, crashing at times or gentle rolls that we have people who will weather whatever storms drive those waves?
If you have those people in your lives, can I encourage you to find ways to tell them? Don’t let them go through life thinking that the giving, the constant steadiness of their character isn’t valued
Happy birthday my dear friend, couldn’t think of a better way to honor you, then to share with the world your tender heart!