Friday, March 14, 2014

30x30: What About Your Friends?

When you live more than 700 miles away from your family, you're gonna need some friends.

I was running a fever of 103 degrees, was living alone, and was out of ibuprofen. I was in no condition to go out, but was afraid that if my fever got much higher things would start getting dicey.

I texted a few friends who I knew lived close by to see if they could bring me some drugs to get my fever down. My friends have busy lives; I was worried that everyone would be too busy dashing about being fabulous to help, or worse, that no one would think it was important enough to go out of one's way. Friendship is optional, after all.

Luckily, within a couple of hours, two friends were over not only with ibuprofen, but with soup, OJ, and Theraflu too. I think it was less the things they brought that made me feel better, but more the fact that they had cared enough to come.

Friendship is easy when you're a kid. You go to school and see they same people every day for long expanses of time and over many years. You work together, you play together, you go to each other's birthday parties, you study together. 

But getting older, it gets harder. People grow up and get busy lives, and spending time with friends - which had always been a foregone conclusion in the past - more and more often takes a backseat to the fatigue induced by the daily grind, the ladder-climbing, the housekeeping, and all the things required for survival in such a complicated, messy world. 

Friends get significant others, and in that indefinite honeymoon phase, would rather stay in and snuggle. Friends start families and it becomes understandably more important to attend to those than to grab a beer at a bar with a bestie. At a certain point, friendship becomes work. At a certain point, one has to choose friendship, work towards friendship, make time and space for friendship. Friendship must be cultivated and attended to like a garden, or it will wither and there will be a part of life that is barren and incomplete.

Friendship saved my life. There was a time, when my first marriage was ending, that I was in such despair, they I really didn't know if I'd make it. My family was supportive and loving, but they were so far away. Without the friends who spent selfless hours talking with me, taking me out, and showing compassion, I really don't know what would have happened.

Friendship is so unimaginably important because the best friendships, sometimes the ones you didn't see coming, will stand up when everything around you is falling apart.

I approach thirty with joy and hope due in no small part to the community of friends that has buoyed me, shaped me, and made me laugh sometimes so hard I've cried through every portion of this unwieldy life so far.

Thanks, friends. Let's keep up the work of being such to one another.

Original illustration by Isabella Rotman

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