To Friendship

 

"Coffee Break" Photo by Berit Watkin

“Coffee Break” – Photo by Berit Watkin

Water bottles. Check. Audio book. Yay and check! Overnight bags. Check. My friend’s car—her behind the wheel—gassed up and ready to hit the road. Check and check. First stop: Drive thru for coffee. Last stop? Destination Prince George.

 
It was a lovely mini vacation. Three friends and I decided to meet up for a day of shopping, followed by dinner and a late night gabfest in PG. It was one of those spontaneous breaks you don’t know how much you need until you take it.
 
We each visited our different shopping priorities then met up at a hotel where we shared a suite. We drank wine and munched appys in said suite, then devoured a fantastic meal at North 54. After that we partied up a storm—old-friends-who-don’t-get-to-see-each-other-enough style, meaning we taxied back to the hotel after dinner, chatted for a few more hours, then went to bed, woke up, had coffee in our room and talked some more, then had a lovely breakfast and went our separate ways.  
 
As you know from last month’s column (and from your own life, no doubt), some seasons in life are harder than others, and what kept coming back to me over and over again was the famous Beatles’ refrain, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” (Ohhhhh, ooooooh!)
 
I have been incredibly blessed with enduring friendships: some formed as an adult in the midst of raising children and trying to find myself career and creativity wise, others that predate meeting my husband, having kids, or graduating high school—or, in one case, even having permanent teeth. A couple friends are related by blood. Others are more the kind Anne of Green Gables spoke of: “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
 
Over the years and depending on the busyness and cadence of our various lives, we see a little or a lot of each other, but something interesting struck me the other day. I appreciate, need, rely on, and revel in my friends with the same intensity that I did as a teenager—maybe more because we’re not all so rottenly insecure.
 
I wouldn’t have predicted this in my twenties and early thirties when things were so hectic that long deep visits or casual just hanging out times were rare—but I also wonder if it has something to do with the life stage I’m at. In my twenties and thirties, I knew what I was doing, what I was focused on. I still appreciated and enjoyed my friends, but my small children and family took most of my energy and time. Here at 43, I feel like I’m 18 again, in terms of wondering what’s up next, who will I be, how shall I live? And some of the grief and hard things feel similar too. Why do we exist? What’s the meaning of life? Why is our world like this? (I know, I know . . . you’re feeling sorry for my friends having to put up with me. What can I tell you? They really are amazing. And they drink a lot to cope with me. Heh.)
 
My husband and I often joke that I’m a hermit, and that’s partially true. I can enjoy light socializing, but it wears me down. I don’t do small talk well. And I require a lot of alone time—yet I also need my friends, deeply.
 
It’s not the quantity of friends that counts, nor the amount of time you spend together. In both cases, it comes down to quality.
 
I hope you, like me, have found (or find) your people—or person—that keeps you from feeling alone on this small planet. After all, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” ~ C.S. Lewis 
 
Love and feel extremely grateful for my friends. Check.
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“To Friends” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, November 25, 2015 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”