Note: This article will appear in the May/June issue of Pleasant Living magazine, available FOR FREE at your local convenience store underneath the stacks of yesterday's newspapers. If you stand on your head, you'll see it. This was for a Readers Write exercise on the topic of Friends.
Unconditional love earns the dog the title of man’s best friend. I beg to differ. All of my friends provide unconditional love and support, and none of them are dogs. Of course I’m not a man either, but I digress.
I’ve known my friend Alda since the very first day of school at age 5. Nervous and unable to make eye contact with anyone, I hastily sat next to her on the bus. With the wisdom and confidence of a soul much older than her 5 years on this planet, she immediately noticed my unease and began chatting away, telling me stories about her life and making me laugh. Almost 40 years later she still has the ability to make me laugh no matter what drama or tragedy or life event is doing its level best to drag us down.
On yet another first day of school, I nervously unpacked all my worldly belongings in my college dorm and, with the confidence of a church mouse and the social skills of Rain Man, I paced back and forth and around in circles in our suite. Iris, an extrovert, immediately came up and started talking. In an instant, I had a friend who calmed me and made me feel okay, even though she herself had been flung into this new environment. Almost 25 years later, she still has the innate ability to calm me down.
Another friend, Kathy, I met when our sons started daycare together. As we watched all the Perfect Mothers in their black heels and tailored suits effortlessly drop their children off, we were the only ones on the sidelines wringing our hands, feeling guilty, feeling inadequate. Over the years, our (mostly distorted) interpretations of life and its events have brought us even closer together. She makes me laugh, I make her laugh, and we see things eye to eye. That those eyes desperately need an optometrist is entirely beside the point.
There are several lessons to be learned here. First, I clearly hate change. Second, evidently I don’t like first days of school. Third, I don’t care for dogs much, but I do like cats. Most importantly, fourth: I cherish my lifelong friends who make me laugh, and who support me through thick and thin.
I love them all.