Saturday, February 03, 2007

Friends, part 6

Part six of a series. Please read parts one, two, three, four, and five.

I've covered childhood, college, and young motherhood; I've had a few crucial friendships to get me through each period. But now I'm standing at another doorway. I see my children growing, and I know they won't be in the house forever (Susie's more than halfway to eighteen, and Alex is almost halfway to driving). And with the "best friends" in different states, what's next?

Making a new friend is a lot like falling in love. A lot of those same emotions get stirred up: fear of rejection, nervousness, infatuation, euphoria. When the friendship is in first bloom, the conversations are fast and giddy - finding all those common interests and experiences, as well as the differences in viewpoint - heady stuff. That new person just seems so delightful, so wonderful, so interesting. How did you manage this whole time to not have met? What history will you share through the years?

I see a few people in my life who are gradually shifting from that wider circle of friendly people into the inner circle of true friends. In this entry, I'll examine those relationships. Since we've been going chronologically so far, I'll just keep that going.

Gareth (not his real name, but his requested pseudonym) started coming to church in 2004. He quickly joined the choir and got involved. He and I seemed to click almost immediately. Though several years younger than me, he and I share a snarky sense of humor, a great deal of commitment to social justice, and we both like to be involved. (Maybe it's because our birthdays are just a few days apart?) When I had to undergo a high-dose regimen of steriods that summer, he helped me through it, as he is no stranger to chronic illness that sometimes require prednisone. That support and understanding of what was happening to my body and my mind were probably what cemented our friendship. That and the fact that he lets me call him "my gay" in the style of Kathy Griffin. Oh, and he trusted my Martha Stewart skills sufficiently to have me plan and cater his housewarming party. Because every bachelor needs a pretend wife. Even if he's gay and the pretend wife is eight years older and married with two kids.

Melissa is another friend from church (mentioned in the prior entry). She and I have worlds that overlap in several places. We work at the same place (though not in related departments, so our work is not related or even remotely similar), we share similar political beliefs (though she's much more committed to the liberal cause than I am), and we both have media-addicted husbands. We have similar tastes in most things and have similar interests, too. Like Gareth, Melissa is younger than I am, and is currently pregnant with her first child. I have confidence that she'll be a great mother, and I also anticipate that her motherhood will strengthen our friendship, as our worlds will overlap even more.

Rebecca joined the Memphis Vocal Arts Ensemble during the year I took off after my radioactive iodine treatment for my thyroid gland. And then she took off most of the next year, after I had returned, because she had a baby that summer. So we met last May, when she came in to sing the opera concert. I noticed her immediately, because we had just about the same haircut, just about the same hair color, and her clothes reminded me of things I wear. We're also very close in age and have daughters that are just about two years older than their little brothers. Plus the music. So that's a lot in common. We did a bit of friend-courtship that spring and have gotten together outside rehearsals a few times, and we've had a great time when we've gotten together. So why aren't we closer than we are? I blame geography (we live about 20 minutes from each other) and life. We're both busy women - she is a professional musician, which means her evenings are mostly occupied by rehearsals. I work during the day, so we don't have compatible schedules. We spend more time trying to plan get-togethers than we actually spend getting together, but there is definitely a "spark" that tells me that she could be a significant friend.

I think that's it for my series. I am so fortunate to have had such wonderful people in my life. Even the difficult relationships have helped me to learn more about myself and the world around me. Each person in my life has helped me grow and become who I am now.

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