I'm having a hard time reconciling some things I see at work with what I have chosen to believe about people in general. I know I've mentioned my struggle to strike some semblance of balance between work, home and friends, and this subject matter is one that creates an incessant feeling of being pulled, or at least forced to peer, into something dank and dark. Totally off balance.
I just about blew a few weeks ago. There were going to be smatterings of brain matter, heart strings and tears for a quarter-mile radius ... and that was if it was a still day.
By the time Thursday night rolled around, I had a heck of a week at work under my belt, (remind me to tell you about parent-teacher conferences sometime), the BoyRD had taken off that morning for his first college visit 950 MILES AWAY and I taught a particularly emotional class that night. Dude, I was SPENT.
With a terrifically understanding boss, a day o' time built up and an opportunity to take care of some family stuff, I took Friday off.
For what was supposed to be a day of respite, it dawned a tad early. Some friends I don't get to see as often as I'd like were meeting for coffee and dip me in pig poop if I was going to miss it.
It turned out to be the best thing I could have done.
I drove a pick-up truck to a tidy, upscale coffee shop ... while listening to country music. It was like my past and my present were doing a happy little do-si-do. That, in and of itself, was healing.
Then there was the weather. You know those perfect, sunny, crisp fall days that practically sing, "Alleluia" all by themselves? It was one of those.
And while those things were sweet, the best part was at the coffee shop.
I didn't have time to shower, but instead added an extra layer of deodorant, brushed my teeth and washed/moisturized my face. Honestly, I'm not even sure I was wearing clean underwear.
Self conscious of my physical shape, I slinked in and was greeted the same way they always greet me—with love.
Driving away from that morning's coffee, I was restored. My soul nurtured by the smiles, hugs and laughter of friends, I was able to allow my shoulders to drop from near-ear elevation, my back and neck to loosen and my stomach unclench for the first time in weeks.
Most importantly, I was reminded--as I often am in the presence of these folks--of who I am, what I believe, and why.
I drove away thinking about who these people are to me, and how inadequate words can be to describe them and what they mean to me. The only word I can think of with any precision—and this is based in shear definition-- is, "friend", but in comparison with my experience of who these group of people are, it falls flat.
When I consider those I have cultivated relationships with over the years, and look around at who I am surrounded with now, I can't help but be pleased.
These people are, individually, awe-inspiring. As a collective, they become something else. They become a net, a solid sheet, a concrete bowl of support, love and--most importantly to me--genuine acceptance.
These are the people I can be myself with. The ones I adore for being themselves with me.
Adore may come off as a big word, but I spend a great deal of time thinking about this, so hang with me here a second.
I do, indeed, adore them. Cherish them. Celebrate them. Worship the very ground they walk on.
They bring me a solace I’ve found nowhere else (and believe you me, I’ve tried some comfort sources, kids.) They know with usually one word that something is awry and don’t give me peace until I spill all of it, usually in a volcano of ick and filth, never flinching when the grime hits their shoes and my language is peppered with such vile words a sailor would squirm. They laugh at the ridiculous, the nerdy, the obscure and obscene things I think up. They ask with interest about the things I concern myself with, and listen with love. And somewhere in this mess, reciprocation occurs.
These are the people who have taught me how to truly be a friend.
They meet for last-minute dinners, they sit around fire pits, they take road trips, they squeeze in coffee dates at otherwise preposterous hours and show up to help out with the crappy jobs I just can’t bring myself to do alone.
They send texts just to make me laugh. They send pictures to make my jaw drop. They call just to sing a bit of a song because they know I’ll get it.
So no, I can't call them friends. It's just not enough.
And in that space of lack, I find a full and joyous echo, filling my heart and resonating in my soul.
Here’s to my friends. To those far away and near, newer and around since dirt was invented, those I see daily and sporadically, those tied by blood, and those bonded by love and laughter:
I don't have the right word to describe you, but that doesn't matter.
I love you. Thank you for being you.