On the Power of Friends...
I had lunch today with a group of women. Different ages and backgrounds, all centered around one woman we all know and love. We met at a restaurant and as I sat down at the large round table, I was struck by our diversity. As we moved through placing our orders and getting our salads I watched the diversity fade and the similarities emerge. This was fascinating to me personally as I have just come out of a very hard "friendship" time.
Its funny how we ALL have friendships that end, and even if they devastate us with their ending? We somehow dismiss it lightly with a slight gesture of a hand and an airy tone in our voice "Oh yes we were friends but we grew apart" OR "Yes I don't see her much now that she moved.." The truth is, letting go of a really good friend is as hard as letting go of a husband, or watching an adult child walk out the door. There is a sense of loss. A supreme desire to try in some desperate way to recapture, to go back. To love the unfaithful lover as we did in the first. To make the grown child a baby again. To keep the friend we knew.
The unescapable fact is people change. Life changes too. Quickly and often. And our reaction to that is to hold most desperately anything that seems solid. Real. Defined. We form rules and boundaries very quickly in a friendship." I am the comforter YOU are the explorer"...YOU are the "solve it" person I am the questioner"...We settle in to these roles the same way that we move into a house. The idea being to get comfortable. To land. There really must be nothing so suffocating to a friend than being held to the former bonds of what was a comfortable friendship, while they are experiencing a time of growth. The living of that, the tumultuous feeling of being uprooted and repotted by the changing circumstances of life is a hard one for a friendship to endure, bound as it is by the hard the and fast rules of commonality. To weather that is going to take a lot.
Sitting there in that restaurant, surrounded by what amounted to 4 generations of women, I was struck most of all by the acceptance. The simple joy of celebrating the uniqueness of each one there.
I felt my personal stiff upper lip of the "friendship factor" quiver, and my spine relaxed into my seat in the easy joy of their company .The clink of glasses and forks, the warm freshly baked bread was a soothing background to this easy acceptance .
The seemingly effortless flow of food and conversation. The genuine look of celebration in the eyes of each one, happiness for the forward moving moments since we had last talked. The gentle feel of support for the lost parent, the difficult child the errant spouse. We covered it all as we moved our way to dessert, and the late afternoon sun watched as we lingered over coffee. It all played across this gentle winter afternoon like a ballet, orchestrated against a symphony of linen, china and the inept impervious waiter. My triumphs had been celebrated and my sorrows had been acknowledged. My heart had spent an afternoon being wide open and felt richer for it.
Goodbyes were said, much too soon it seemed. As I drove into the clear light of the setting sun, I noticed an unfamiliar as of late, feeling... warm, heavy.
It was the feel of contentment glowing deep from within the center of me. It settled down as gently as the water colored winter light in front of me, and had nothing to do with the salad, the main course, or the exquisite chocolate dessert. This was the feeling of friendship...I had felt and thought. I had sympathized and rejoiced, I had heard and been listened to, all in turn.