By Terri White
I love people. All kinds of people. Young, old, and middle-aged. Freckled, tan, brown, white, not-so-white, black, not-so-black, pierced, tattooed. Poor, rich, middle class. Tall, short, skinny, fat. Those on the spectrum, those not on the spectrum, down syndrome folks, those with learning challenges. Strangers, new friends, old friends. Musicians, poets, accountants, clerks, doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, the homeless, veterans, bikers, carpenters, factory workers. The more the better. People make me feel alive.
I am one lucky girl because I have friends. A wide variety that infuses my life with pizzazz, comfort, stimulating conversation, and get-aways. What’s not to like?
As a girl, my dad changed jobs frequently, so I was often the new kid at school. I hated it. All eyes on me, stumbling around to find my place in the mix. Consequently, I was ever so grateful for that one person who befriended me. And as I grew more comfortable in my new community, I surrounded myself with girlfriends from all walks of life. Never cliquish. Always welcoming. The good life.
However, with so many childhood moves, it was challenging to keep up with old friends in the pre-digital era. Long-distance phone calls were expensive, so we wrote letters. But life gets busy; I attended college, started my career, married, and lost touch. Fast forward to the Internet era with smartphones and social media. Voila! Looking up old friends right at my fingertips. But still. It’s not the same as those face-to-face relationships.
What a pleasure to sit across the table with friends while enjoying a good meal or leisurely chatting over a cup of coffee. Sharing life’s tidbits, deep discussions, and laughing – a lot. Working together on a project or sneaking away for a girls’ weekend. Or to just quietly be. Then, too, friends provide comfort during troubled times. Friendship: it’s the splash of color in one’s life.
Life, though, is not always pretty. Friends come and go for various reasons, like the ebb and flow of life. Sometimes I’ve even experienced the unkindness of an “unfriending” (long before FaceBook) because I changed my views on life issues. Sigh. Sad, but true. After one such experience, a lost friend summoned me to her death bed to apologize for throwing away our 20-year friendship over such foolishness. Two days later she died. Really. I miss her.
But all-in-all, life is filled with treasured friendships – old and new. Like a gardener, I work hard to maintain them. Friendships nourish me, enrich me. I love them. I love them all.