(Don’t forget: There is a contest at the bottom that could win you a $25 Amazom gift card)
You can’t help but close your eyes and croon when you hear the Wonder Years’ theme song: I get byyyy with a little help from my friends. (Beatles original, Joe Cocker remake). But the lyrics were only partially accurate.
I called one of my oldest friends recently. We’ve never been good phone friends – more e-mail and Skype, peppered with triennial visits, due mostly to our varying schedules. Life gets in the way if you let it, man. But in the past six months I have had this unusual yet overwhelming sense of urgency to call and talk with her every few weeks.
One of the things I love about this friend is we never have to set a future date to talk. I just know we will talk at least every couple months; neither one of us lets it lag too long. But we never even have to say “I’ll talk to you soon, okay?” It’s always, “Okay! Good talk. Have a great weekend!” Because we just know, without a doubt, that we will talk soon. There’s no need to say it; it’s just going to happen.
I realized this last time we chatted that my sense of urgency to call her stemmed from a strong fear of losing her. We are polar opposites in some really big ways, and as our world seems to grow more divided and more intolerant on a daily basis – depending on how the culture wars are going – I kept feeling like we were going to start disagreeing in not-so-nice ways, or that she was going to stop wanting to speak to or hang out with me. If either one of us were the obnoxious Facebook type, we would have unfriended each other long ago for our varying social, political, and faith-related views. Thankfully that’s not the case, but the differences are still there. (By the way, this friend has never exhibited any kind of arms-length attitude when our differences have shown themselves. This is, as most things are, a self-imposed fear).
But all that goes away when I hear “Hello!” on the other end of my iPhone. Differences dissolve when she calms me down during a life-crisis moment that I’m convinced only she can fix, or when I bring to the surface for her something she’s wanted to say aloud for weeks. Our dissimilarities melt away when we bond over TV shows, food intolerance-slash-digestive issues, and an old-soul hope for the world that few of our friends and family share.
It all started back in high school during a from-the-gates-of-hell Senior Project. We have a similar work ethic and came together over late-night paper-writing, constant giggles, and creepy mugshots (viewed during our research, I swear!). Over time, our differences grew but so did our friendship, so did our kindred spirit connection. Our hang-outs back then guaranteed deep conversation and lots of laughing. Our grown-up (in age only) visits guarantee 48 hours of very little sleep, a highly entertaining film (she has a fabulous collection), and lots and lots of giggling. I mean, we put adolescent girls to shame.
My question is, do we know what a treasure this kind of relationship is? Do we truly understand what an absolute honor, what an asset, it is to have someone out there in the world who, to their gut, understands what we’re trying to say at any given moment? No “what do you mean?” or “did you mean to say…?” Someone whom when one of you approaches the other you physically relax, your body actually feels relief, for their proximity. Isn’t is such a special thing to know that there’s someone like that in the world? Even if they’re far away? It is to me.
And I’m one of the lucky ones. Off the top of my head I can count 12 friends whom I can call on at any given moment and the depth of the relationship will not have receded. To be honest with you, I have laid down at night and have actually thought to myself – even if I didn’t talk to the particular friend that day – “Thank God I have _______.” I have breathed easier knowing I have certain people, certain FRIENDS, out there rooting for me, praying for me, thinking and worrying about me, loving me – no matter how long it takes me to call them back, write them back, or visit them. No matter how cranky I am or how stubborn I can be. I appreciate them in varying ways, but I appreciate them nonetheless. They love me in varying ways, but they love me nonetheless. And their presence in my life is nothing short of a comforting miracle, and it’s nothing I plan to change. Ever.
I don’t have any idea where I or my life would be – physically, emotionally, spiritually – without my friends. They motivate me, teach me, inspire me. They listen to me, help me, love me. They laugh with me, pray for me, encourage me.
So, John Lennon had part of it right. I get by with a lot of help from my friends.
Dobby had it all the way right: Such a beautiful place … to be with friends.
I love you guys!
And here’s the contest: Between today (Sunday, 4/28) and Wednesday (5/1), tell me why you love your life with your friends. Post a comment or e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I will choose the story that moves me the most (either to tears of joy or tears of laughter), and the winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. Can’t wait to hear your stories!