Thoughts: The definition of friendship
So, I’m starting to realize that the stories I share on this blog make it sound like my entire life is stuffed full of characters from John Green books. Know that I recognize that. Know that I see the literary theme that’s building here. Also know that I can’t do a single thing to change any of that because all of these stories are true and I can’t help it that sometimes life (yours, too) is a poetic masterpiece.
That said, here we go again.
It’s Pride (in NYC) and the World Cup (in the world), so – like any respectable, globally aware millennial – I went to brunch.
We were at a sports bar in LES called the Blind Pig, which offers a bottomless brunch, but we didn’t even opt in (aka, this is not an alcohol-inspired tale). That should have been my first sign that John-Green-esque magic was brewing.
I was with one of my closest friends, whose family has been going through a really, really hard time the past couple of weeks. It’s the kind of hard time that’s made me reserve my 11:11 wishes for them, instead of me.
As her friend, I’ve felt that my responsibility is to be there, physically and emotionally, as much as possible. I don’t want to make her talk about it and I don’t want to make her not talk about it, so we’ve chatted about things but in update-form. We’ve talked about it but we haven’t talked about it.
So, today we were at the Bling Pig, having a conservative amount of mimosas while people bottomless brunched and cheered for soccer and Pride-danced all around us, and I started talking about something that another one of my friends is going through. A story that has similarities to her own current state.
That was when my friend started to tear up. And, for context, this is not a standard character trait for her. This is the opposite of usual. (Yes, I know the opposite of usual is “unusual.”) Because this friend I have ,who’s going through this really hard thing, is one of the strongest people I know. She swears the universe has plans for us and that they are good and beautiful plans and that we are capable and beautiful and amazing and will always, always be more than ok and she genuinely believes it all. My friend laughs and smiles and dances and sings and lifts you up no matter what. And that isn’t to say that she isn’t allowed to cry, or that seeing her cry has changed any of those aforementioned truths about her, but I didn’t want it to be because of me.
So, of course, like any civilized adult human being who is capable of processing complex situations quickly, my brain went: fuck.
And I quickly said, Let’s not talk about this. And she conclusively answered, No, let’s.
So we did. And she teared up. And we got to a point of her articulating that she just feels for what this other person is going through, and doesn’t want that for anyone else. And that was when, for the first time, we finally, really, beyond update-level, started to talk about some of what’s been going on.
That was also when – against all my will – I started to tear up, too.
Which wasn’t the first time I’ve gotten emotional about what she’s going through, but the times before I was safe behind a wall of text messages. I always, always told myself I wouldn’t get emotional about this in front of her because that is the wrong kind of role reversal. But now it was happening and the truffle fries were too cold at this point to be a distraction, so here we were. Together.
I didn’t have the words to fully say what I was trying to say, and she didn’t have the ability to change any of what is. But there we were. Together.
I never, ever wanted to make her feel in any way like we needed to talk more than she wanted to, and I’m sure she didn’t think the time and place would be in a wooden booth at a bar named after a visually impaired swine. But there we were. Together.
Beyonce was playing and people were dancing and a girl in a rainbow cape flew by and soccer goals were being scored, like, a lot. But we were sitting there, together, doing this.
And I think, for me, that’s what a friend is.
We all go through friend-phases. People fade in and people fade out. But, I think, if there’s a science behind the ones who last, I have to imagine that some of the variables would likely include the ability to stay focused on you while Beyonce is playing + passion for champagne + straining to hear you for a big conversation in the middle of a crazy loud sports bar + staying there.
And I’m realizing that, when those variables are present, all I ever really want is for that person to never, ever feel alone. No matter what. I want them to know that no matter how lonely, or scared, or lost they feel, they’ll always have a safe place – a home – with me.
And I think that that (maybe?) is friendship.
Friendship is magical, but you don’t have to be. Humans, on their own, aren’t magical. It’s like this weird and amazing chemical reaction when one good human gets mixed with another good human and their good humanness percolates to make light.
You don’t have to be magic on your own. But you do have to be there.
You have to be home. No voice mail, no out of offices. When it’s time for your friends to need a home, you absolutely, every time, have to be home.
And I hope for you that you know the people in your life who feel like home for you, too. And if you don’t know, then find them. Because you deserve them. A mountain home, a beach home, a home overseas…you deserve them all.
You deserve them all.