Friends can also be soulmates; Cherish them
There are few things that I can say without a shadow of a doubt, but I am 100% certain that I would not have made it to my thirtieth birthday without my friends. I have friends who changed my diapers, changed my mind, and changed my tires. I have had friends who made short but dramatic appearances in my life and others who have been around since before I can remember. I have had friends who have failed me, friends who have pushed me, and friends who have directly contributed to my success. To all of you who have graced my life—from Tall Pines Road to Lancaster to St. Louis to New York City to everywhere in-between—I cherish you and thank you for the love you’ve shared, the wisdom you have imparted, and the patience you have shown, for the love you will continue to share, the wisdom you will continue to impart, and the patience you will continue to show. I truly do not know who or where I would be without you.
Many years ago, I came across this quotation by Robert Bach:
A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise.
Some of my friends are undeniably also my soulmates. They are the ones who open the locks to my truest self, the ones who unconditionally love me for who I am and call me out when I try to be anyone else. There are times when we hate each other, times when we take breaks from each other, and times when we don’t show up in the ways we know we should. However, these people, no matter what corner of the world they are in (shout outs to Florida, France, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pakistan, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina), are my people. They are a part of me and they are a part of what makes life worth living. Because for each of the moments we have fallen short, there are dozens of moments that epitomize unqualified, unadulterated, unequivocal love. One of you broke down a bedroom door when I was having an anxiety attack on the other side. One of you gave me a place to sleep when I didn’t feel like I was safe anywhere else. One of you rescued me from the middle of the college quad when I was so depressed I couldn’t move myself. One of you organized my closet when it became too much of a disaster to stand. Many helped me get dressed, eat, and bathe after my shoulder surgery. You’ve helped me move, helped me make tough decisions, and helped me grow. No matter what goes wrong or how far apart we may be, I know that I am safe on this earth because your arms are there to catch me. The net is wide.
I have a group of girlfriends from high school who have truly been there through it all. From first crushes to proms, from funerals to weddings. I have many great friends, but these girls are the foundation. Every year, sometimes more than once, we set aside time to go away together just the six of us. These weekends are full of the most organic laughter imaginable. They are also the times when I feel like I can be the most “me.” These girls have not only seen me at my worst, but also held me through my worst. They’ve forgiven me through decades of mistakes, and I have forgiven them. There’s no reason to hold back because I don’t think there’s anything about me they don’t know—even if I haven’t told them. Many years ago, one of us came up with the concept of “feelings time,” which is basically anywhere from one hour to two days when we go around one-by-one and share our feelings, truths, struggles, and dreams since the last time we were all together. It takes however long it takes; no feeling is too big or too small to share. And we listen to each other and hold each other (both physically and emotionally) through whatever comes—pain and joy, brokenness and wholeness, fears and revelations. We also call each other out, give lots of both solicited and unsolicited advice, ask the big questions, and affirm that no matter what, each of us will be loved. Sometimes it’s more laughter than tears and sometimes it’s more tears than laughter. In either case, these moments together solidify our bond and give me hope and energy for reentering the world. We bring out the best in each other and it is good.
The lesson about cherishing friendship may seem clichéd or unoriginal, but it’s also one of the foundational lessons of my life. As we grow older, our priorities shift. We start “adulting” and worrying about bills and weddings and mortgages and children. In the mess of life, it is easy to remember our friends and perhaps equally easy to forget to tell them how much they mean and how grateful we are for their presence in our lives. It is not enough to say, “I’m here for you.” Part of being a good friend is proving it, even when you yourself are in a funk, or your child is screaming, or you had a difficult day at work, or you would rather be doing anything else. Cherishing our friends is about honoring the past, remembering and honoring the sacrifices we and they have made, and being willing to continue sacrificing and growing together. It’s not always convenient and it is not always fun, it’s not always simple and it’s not always earth-shattering. But it’s always worth it.
To all of you, thank you. I love you.