To Everything a Season
This is the fourth and last entry in January’s series on friendship. You can read the rest of the series here. If you’re participating in the synchroblog, you can link up your own post about friendship below (and be sure to check out the thoughts of those who have added their own stories). I’ve so enjoyed this series, and I hope you have, too. Still, I’m already looking forward to what I have planned for February. Come back next Monday to see how it is beginning to unfold.
This past summer, a friend got married. We were the sort of friends who ate lunch together daily, in college. I walked with her as she went through a horrible breakup. Sometimes, I would spend the night at her little college apartment and we would goof around as is seems that only students do, trying to take pictures of ourselves flapping our arms, so that we looked armless, or singing loudly to a mix cd containing mostly Nickelback (what can I say).
We talked about our weddings a lot in those days. Now that it’s a reality for many people in my life, I find that the subject comes up less often. Now we talk about relationships, kids, and what we’ve cooked in the last week. We talk about writing, and faith, and hope. But back then, we talked a lot about our wedding party. She would be my maid of honor, I decided, and I had a place in her wedding, for sure, though a childhood best friend had the role of chief bridesmaid.
Many years later, I found myself mired in depression over a long weekend. I thought it might have been the guy who wasn’t calling, or even the stress of moving into a new home, and still feeling disorganized and scattered. It was only later in that very long weekend that Facebook told me that my old friend had married a man I’d never met. I hadn’t been invited. I’m not sure I would have gone, if I had. Sometimes my heart and body knows things that my mind does not.
After our brief time in college together, I moved far away, to the cornfields of Indiana, to finish my education. Although we both tried, as we knew how, we never could put our relationship back together again.
Once, just after graduation, I went and visited her in the little wine town where she grew up. For a moment, it was as if we were in college again, talking about boys, making silly jokes, dressing up in prom dresses and posing on her four wheeler. We took walks in the evening, talking long into the night. We shot a possum. We packed in so much joy and friendship and acceptance.
It was the last time I saw her.
Maybe you also have the sort of friends who are wonderful and precious in person, but impossible to get ahold of? I’ve had my share of these relationships in my life. Each time, I find myself hoping that this time it will stick, that my friend is back in my life for good; this one returned email, voicemail, or successful meet-up means that we’ve turned a corner. But we never have. I’ve learned to appreciate those unexpected appearances, but not to count on them.
My brother lives far away, right now. We are as close as you can be over so many miles. There are years, and memories, and so much that need not be spoken, binding us together. There is security in knowing that while other relationships might drift out of my life, this one will not. Even when we aren’t as good at daily life keeping as we’d like to be, we are secure. We are still us.
Every once in a while, someone from my past intersects with my present. They may come into my mind unbidden, or actually appear in front of me, on the internet, by phone, or in person. Last Christmas, I got a call from someone I hadn’t seen since we were both very young, our parents have been friends for decades. We got together for a movie with her family, and then snuck off to dinner. We hadn’t talked much before this day, and over pizza and craft beer, I wondered why. The years had taught us many of the same things. Now, we stay in touch, and dream of a next visit with hope. I try to remember that anyone can pop back into my life, at any time. When they do, I try to pay attention.
I used to think of my friends as a collection (a word more suited to possessions than people, perhaps). I’m learning to think of the relationships I’m a part of as a garden. Some of them grow and bloom for one season, bearing fruit and bringing beauty and life for just a short while. Others bury their roots deep and settle in to stay, even as the seasons roll on. It’s not always easy to tell them apart.
Sometimes, a person will come to mind, someone that I miss. I try to pay attention to this. I usually reach out somehow, asking to meet for coffee, catch up by phone, or share a meal. Sometimes, I don’t get a response, or I get a half-hearted one.
Other times, I’ll send a text like the one I sent to a friend I used to hang out with every Saturday night. Work, deadlines and busyness got in the way, and I was missing her. She told me about her hard day and invited me over after the kids went to bed. I went to the grocery store and picked up all of the ingredients for “Sex on the Beach” (her favorite cocktail). We sat on her living room floor and caught up on the last months, feeling tropical, even in the cold. Though many things had probably changed in our time apart, sitting on that floor, going right to the correct cupboard for the glasses and laughing together once again, I knew that the changes were far from fundamental.
This is the fourth and last post in a series on friendship. If you have written a post for the synchroblog, please link up below (I'll leave it open for one week). I’m so thankful for this great cloud of witnesses, representing so many wonderful relationships. I hope you’ll take a moment to visit and read some of their stories.