Lifelong


“. . . the companions of our childhood always possess a certain power over our minds which hardly any later friend can obtain.” ~Mary Shelley, Frankenstein


December 16 – Friendship
How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author:
Martha Mihalick) [The #reverb10 project.]


(I’m going to cheat and simply talk about friendship because it is such a rarity for me. There is a bit of revelation though not necessarily pertaining to my world view. Whatever. What I'm going to say... needs to be said.)

The picture? 7th grade at Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya. I’m the ridiculously skinny child on the right but I’m not here to talk about me. Maybe a little, but not really. I need to talk about us.

See? The three of us met for the first time circa 1982-1983. Wait, that’s not right. They met me… seeing as they were already well acquainted. I was not their favorite person at the time and, truth be told, I know why and I’m okay with that. But, we did become friends.

Fast forward a few years to the picture above. We were roommates at boarding school together in 7th grade… and only that year. Yep, we figured out we couldn’t exactly live together in peace and harmony (not to mention varying tastes in room décor). Junior high years are just wretched anyway. But, we were still friends.

Fast forward a few years more. We graduated from Rift Valley Academy together and adulthood has taken us on vastly different life paths. There has been little similarity in our lives. In that picture we seem so alike to me now… even close to the same height. Even then, though, we were so different. From left to right: The Girlie-Girl, The Academic & The Tomboy.

Different then. Different now.

I, The Tomboy, am now about 3” taller than The Girlie-Girl. The Academic? Well, she is at least 3” taller (if not more) than me. Height aside, our lives and interests and experiences have tied and untied together over the years like the most bizarre pretzel imaginable. But, we are still friends.

We live in different places with drastically different lifestyles. We get to see each other rarely. Surprisingly, it is my presence in this little town in Arkansas that has allowed us to see one another at least once, and sometimes twice, a year. Despite the opposing directions we took post-high school… we all three married men from here or near here. I’m stuck here at the moment and divorced. Marital family ties bring them back here. Ah, one more reason for me to
appreciate this place.

I realized something this year: Despite ups and downs in personal lives and our relationships with each other, I desperately love each of the girls in that picture with wild abandon (Yes, even myself.). I am awed by the women they have become and the gifts they have to give to the world. I am unable, for various reasons, to be with either of them at a moment’s notice [The Academic, for example, is giving birth to her second child TODAY… far away from where I am.] but I would, without doubt,
go to the mattresses for (Read: fight for… stand up for… be there for…) either one of them. Were I needed… truly needed by one of them… I would brave planes, trains, automobiles and further financial insecurity (Who am I kidding? I’d call my dad.) to get to her side.

I also realized something else: I know that my friendship matters to each of them but I also know that, while they enjoy our visits together, they have their own lives. They have friends who know so much more about them now, as women, than I will probably ever know. Friends they turn to daily. I’m not that person and I am okay with that. I have wished previously, because of my staggering lack of female friends, that The Girlie Girl and The Academic lived in this town or within a reasonably short driving distance and then I remember…

We couldn’t live with each other in junior high and were smart enough to not try and live with each other at any point during high school. The Girlie Girl and I tried to live together briefly one summer after our respective sophomore years at different universities. That was a big reminder to not try that again. Granted, I was a highly unstable undiagnosed bipolar at the time but still…

Perhaps it is the distance and the varying life paths we have taken that keep us close. It is the lessons and experiences we have individually that allow us to continue supporting, understanding and nurturing us as a collective. We aren’t meant to live near one another because that has the potential to ruin the whole damn thing.

In my warped mind that makes perfect sense.

Asante sana, ladies, for continuing to be there for me… through it all. Grossly inadequate word that is… “all”. I know friendship with me is far from easy.

She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It's good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind. ~Toni Morrison, Beloved

8 comments:

  1. You say, "I desperately love each of the girls in that picture with wild abandon" and there's a wild truth in that -- how wildly we always love. Yes, even ourselves. We may hide it from ourselves, that abandon, because I think we get scared by what else it may require that we abandon in our lives, to honor that love. Ironically, we may even abandon ourselves, to not have to acknowledge how wildly we love, yes, even ourselves.

    What an honor you do, to them and yes, even to yourself, and to us, in upholding, and holding up, this lifelong love.

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  2. I envy you those firendships. I have not kept in close contact with anyone I grew up with and it makes me miss one person in particular. And my sister and I, although I love her dearly, could NEVER live in the same state.

    A beautiful tribute. I think they are very lucky women!

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  3. Thank you, ladies! I am better for knowing them. Oh, Shannon... I have the same phenomenon with my brother. I love him but could never live in the same state with him either. :)

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  4. I was saying to someone before that as we get older, our shared history becomes more important than any differences we might have had.

    The fact that you value these women precisely because you were all so different is so refreshing.

    People who challenge AND nurture us make us grow. This is also what I get from my friends.

    I hope I don't sound too preachy there.

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  5. What a gift to have friendships that go back so far. My closest friend goes back to when we were 17 and we have lived a lifetime since. It is comforting to have those friendships that carry through all phases of your life.

    In my #Reverb10 post on friendship I referenced the poem, "A Reason, A Season or a Lifetime." Lifetime friends are worth more than money can buy, no matter where they live and how much we see them.

    And I think it's awesome that you love yourself too "with wild abandon." Many people never get to that point in their lives.

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  6. @Patti ~ Not preachy at all. Perfect.

    @I Write ~ It is a gift. I'll wander by your post once I ditch this day job for the weekend. :)

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  7. Snowed in, with no way of getting to the places I hoped to go this weekend. The silver lining has been having the time to read this post, which I absolutely loved. Thank you!

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  8. Beth, I love your thoughts on how old friends become and stay old friends, and what that means for us all when we're far away. I might not be making sense, but I rambled a little about it on my blog - http://tinyurl.com/2efjf9d. Just thought I should give you a shout-out, since you spurred it!

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"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman

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