10 July 2012

A Dear Friend

I had lunch with her today. Hadn't seen her for almost a year, though we live in the same valley.




I just love her.

I remember when I met her. I was a painfully shy junior in high school, and I had one friend, a guy from my church group. And when I say friend I mean that we said hi to each other in church once a week and stood against the wall together when the rest of our peers were doing church activities (he was new to the area). That was the extent of my definition on friendship.

He told me he'd met this great girl at the high school and wanted me to meet her; they were having a barbecue at her house over the weekend, and would I like to come?

I agreed hesitantly. I wouldn't know anyone there. And (let me mention again), I was ULTRA shy.

We drove to her house, and I considered having a panic attack as soon as I saw that there were other people there too, besides the cool girl. People I didn't know. People who all knew each other. But it was either play calm or walk home, and it was a hot evening. So I decided to stick it out.

My guy friend introduced us; then he pointed out the window to the horses she had. My Man from Snowy River wonderment kicked in, and before I knew it, this girl, a complete stranger, and I were walking out by ourselves to see the horses. And we stayed there by the fence. Just talking.

Actually there was no "just" about it. In my mind it was, we're actually talking! I'm talking to a stranger! It's me, doing this, with her. One on one. Enjoying it. I'm making a friend! No wait...I've made a friend!

Then our guy friend came up behind us and chucked two surprise water balloons at us. And from that moment of shared betrayal, we bonded.

I've never made a friend so fast—not before, not since. I spent my summer hanging out with her and our mutual friend, and it was one of the happiest summers of my life. I learned how to play RISK (which she couldn't sit through), went hiking and horseback riding (which she loved), and just sat around and talked. And when our paths diverged from our mutual guy friend's, I still went over to her house and talked.

She was my hero in high school. She still is. She draws, she paints, she sews (she sewed her own hoop skirt Civil War ball gown and wore it to prom), she writes, she reads (she's the only other peer I've met who likes Louis L'Amour as much as I do), she hikes and rides horses (rides them in competitions, no less). She decorated the walls in her front room with beautiful painted borders of horses and arrows. She swims. She does everything. And now she's married. And happy.

And she never gave up on me.

I say I spent my summer hanging out with her; it happened a lot less frequently than I let on. 40% of the time she'd call and invite me to stuff I'd actually accept. Because I was still painfully shy, and while I loved doing things with her, my "be social" fuel tank emptied at a hyperactive rate and took a long time to refill (I'm sure there was a leak in it).

But she never stopped calling. All through high school she called and invited me out to stuff. When we went to college she called me and had me come over to the mall, to dinner, or just to her apartment. She gave me paintings for my birthday and Christmas. She watched out for me. She encouraged me to get out more and do things with people. She still does. And she still calls. Even though our paths have now diverged too.

And it means so much to me. 

Today I reconnected with her. And had a fabulous afternoon. And was reminded again why she is one of my favorite people on Earth. So talented she is, yet so sweet and humble about it. Down to earth. Genuine. My hero in so many ways. And I'm ever grateful to her for still calling, even after all these years. For being my special girl friend and showing me what the definition of "friendship" really is.

Girls, we're sure lucky to have each other, all of us. We mean so much to each other. I don't think we could function right without girl friends, real girl friends. It's a girl thing. And it's something special.

Is there a girl friend you want to acknowledge? Send her a note or a text; thank her for being your friend, for spending time with you, for being there to talk to, for helping you shop or giving you advice about boys. For not giving up on you, even though you're not perfect and sometimes you're downright annoying (we all have those moments, right?).

Let her know that she means something special. I'm going to.







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