Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Forever Grateful for Friends

I think I am one of the very few folks out there who is happy when her friends move away. I am happy because I now have even more reasons to get out of town! Sure, you can say I am the same ol’ selfish woman you knew – it would be fair!

But, let me explain: when your friends move, you get the best of all worlds: you still keep the love, and trust me, if you really put your mind to it, long distance relationships DO work! So, you don’t “lose” them at all. Your relationship just changes … interaction. Then, you get to pull away from your routine once in a while, when you get to take the weekend off and go visit them; you get to disconnect from your boring life, and re-energize (how grateful do you need to be for THAT?!?) ; and you get pretty much free lodging and sometimes food when you go, too. What’s not to love?!

This year, I had two mantras to live by: stay in touch better with friends, close and far, and go places you’ve never been before. Thanks to friends who have moved places I have never been before, it looks like this is going to be an easy one!

This past weekend, I went to visit some friends who moved to Lexington, SC, just outside of Columbia. I have been to Lexington before, but not to this part of it: I didn’t know any part of SC can be so lush green and gorgeous! I have never been to Columbia, but I am planning to go back this year, to see that city also – I only hear good things about it. I am also planning to be on Lake Murray this summer, at some point, also courtesy of my said friends! I hope!

It’s always a pleasure to visit with my SC friends (who used to be NC friends). They are a gregarious bunch of folks, who always welcome you with open arms, always overflowing fridges, open minds, wisdom, poignant criticism and lots, and lots of unconditional love. The chats are easy and genuine, the love is sincere, and the giving is abounding! There is always a familiarity to see them, and a feeling of not being alone that is known to me only when I see family. They gave me a backyard bbq party, two restaurant meals, an office chair to take home (free!) , and a birthday gift, a month and a half after my birthday! It was like seeing mom, dad and having Christmas all over again!

I could have stayed on that screened in porch and talked about past, and future, and catch up on people we know till Labor Day, if I’d had my rathers! I didn’t mind the humidity, nor the mosquitoes that somehow got through the screen anyway, nor the heavy eyelids of a body tired from driving in the rain for three hours! It was so refreshing to meet the like-minded folks I once knew and still hold close! It was so refreshing to know, one more time, that I am “home”.

The moments spent with your friends are priceless! They are crystallized in time, and forever engrained in your brain. Those moments, I am sure, you take with you, in your heart, when you slip into "forever". They give you dimension in space, and teach you who you are. And on lonely nights, when you think you’re alone in the world, they give you something to feed off of, and something to dwell on: a family, and sense of belonging. We should really be more grateful to friends than we sometimes make time for!

I thank them now, as I always have, for just … existing. And making me a part of their world, about seven years ago. And never budging from that commitment. Yet. Family has no choice: they have to have you. But friends don’t have to. They do have a choice, and these folks made a choice to “have me” despite the changes in their lives, and mine.

I am grateful for the “things”, sure, and the “free trips”. But mostly, I am grateful for the love, and respect, the steadfastness with which they've loved me, and welcoming that they display, year after year, visit after visit, unmoved by the changes of time, and life.

They have married a son, and had two grandkids; they have retired and moved away. Their dog got old and slow. But they have always been the same to me: loving, giving and accepting! They humble me! And I love them.

One of my favorite pieces in their lush, perfectly manicured
gardens was a deep purple calla lily.

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