Last night I had dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen in a year. How can peoples’ schedules conflict for that long and still upon seeing each other, retain a connection that is completely unscathed by absence? I’m not entirely sure, but I confidently state that I love this friend as much today as I did the last time I saw her, worry for her happiness and celebrate her joys with the same intensity I have always felt.
This has been one of the gifts of this first year of my new adventure of which I’ve written before. Yet the enormity of its implications and lessons somehow demand more attention and thought. I have been a friend to many in my life, but have considered few friends. The lessons learned in the unfortunate elementary school years provided the introductions of being ‘in’ or ‘out’, and as one who was often ‘out’, it was devastating to me. The peaks and valleys of adolescent insecurity screw with one’s identity enough to limit one’s friends to a select few who help you feel relatively okay when everything else around you screams to the contrary. Throw in a couple of marriages which frequently relocated me, but more critically dislocated my sense of self completely. It’s easy to trace my overall interest in others coupled with an ironic reluctance to divulge very much about myself. If I cared about others, I would at least get by. If I could make them laugh and sincerely attend to their struggles, much of my internal discomfort could be ignored and largely ameliorated. Psychology and education were natural pursuits (after realizing that my only acceptance speech at the Tony awards would be given in the shower).
These boys o’ mine – lifelines to me at one point as much as I was to them – did more than anyone else to re-establish my sense of self-worth and belief that if such wonderful human beings could be brought into this world and be an integral part of mine, then there was a strong likelihood that there was more goodness in the world to be found – and felt in my little corner. At some point, I remember just handing this loneliness over – one of the few lessons from Alanon which stayed with ne. When unsure about what I’m doing or how I’m doing it – I hand it over. Each time I have come out the better for ceding control. But I digress…
So I write to you today, with a helluva journey behind me and much still ahead. What I have grown to cherish fiercely is this small circle of friends that I have the honor of knowing today. Such an amazing group – my ‘re-found’ best friend from elementary and jr. high school, the Capt, my ‘second, singing sister’ to whom I remained attached at the hip through high school and college. My phenomenal friends who were once professional colleagues – people with such talent, energy and commitment – and heart to spare. My most recently discovered friend serendipitouslycame into my life while waiting to get a manicure of all things. This is an intimate group – most of whom have never met each other – yet each is so essential to my life. My sister – my oldest and deepest connection and my sister-in-law – my love for them is too big to define.
As I was driving home last night – so full of appreciation for this wonderful woman who just happens to also be my dear friend – I thought that the friendships we women have are proof enough in the wonder of tomorrow. Anything can happen to enhance your life in the spaces in between – those moments when we’re not paying attention to that which we seek. These gifts find you. Our only responsibility is to recognize that they are there – and pay attention to what is being given to us.
Before we head off on vacation, I had to post this message. A message of appreciation without question, and a message of wonder – for this world can hold more love than our arms can ever encircle. The greatest disservice we can do ourselves and others is not to embrace it with arms wide open.