It's funny how often the sky above me on my morning walks reflects my thoughts. This morning the sky was a swirl of grays, whites and blues. I counted three different kinds of clouds (don't ask me their names!) crisscrossing and dancing in front of a sunshine-rich blue backdrop.
And that's pretty much what was happening in my head... lots of swirling thoughts, some light and full of sunshine, but some tinged with gray, threatening rain.
Friendship was on my mind, as it often is, along with the usual... finances, the land, the kids, jobs, my writing...
I was thinking what a funny thing friendship is... how indefinable... how impossible to squeeze into a specific container...
In comes in so many shapes, colors, intensities.
It's unpredictable - you click with certain people; with others, you just don't. But surprise! you might if you try again later.
Some friendships take years to form; others only seconds.
Some snap, broken by some random split-second test of life,
While others take on superhero strong-as-steel, unbreakable qualities.
In the past few years, I have regained friendships I thought were lost forever through negligence;
Others that lasted decades... holding on tight through marriages, divorces, parenthood, illness and cross-country moves... have suddenly rusted away.
Nothing of substance there after all, you might be thinking, but I know that's not true.
Funny things, indeed. What does it really mean to be a friend, anyway?
I have a tendency to hold on tight to my friendships. Time doesn't bother me - for me, friendship is always in the present tense, no matter how many years have gone by. And I know there are others out there like me. I may not hear from them often, but I know they are there, holding on tight to the other end, if I need them. And they know the same about me.
But I'm learning to recognize that sometimes I'm clinging to an empty line - no one is hanging on to the other end of the rope, anymore. There are signs and I'm learning to read them, instead of ignoring them and making excuses. For whatever reason, they've let go and there's nothing I can do about it, but let go of my end as well. It's a waste of time to hang on. Maybe one day they'll wander back and pick up their end. Maybe not.
I'm learning not to be sad about that, to just let go and focus on the lines I'm still holding, the lines I'm still collecting. It's tough. But it helps that every day I'm rediscovering (or just discovering, period) other friends. Perhaps it's because I have the time now that my kids are older, or maybe I just realize how much more beautiful my life is when it's layered with so many different shapes and colors, and I'm reaching out more, but I know that these friendships, however indefinable themselves, help me define "me"... help me discover things about myself I've forgotten or perhaps never knew. They make me stronger, they inspire me, they challenge me, they bring me joy.
My friendships are here and now. Today. We might share memories from the past, but memories alone can't keep a friendship alive... it has to be carried into the present, and that takes two.
Last night I met these wonderful women I went to high school with for dinner. Our memories swirl in the same place, sometimes alone, sometimes intersecting, but our friendships are alive and well in the present (a good thing, considering my memory isn't what it used to be!) I hope they continue to grow, held up on both ends and carried forward, even as I reluctantly whisper good-bye to others.
(Leslie, Donna CH, Shirley, me and Donna BV - photo by the Girl, who was lured to join us by promise of spinach enchiladas, but I think thoroughly enjoyed listening to our stories, too.)