This morning, I sat across a breakfast table from two of my oldest and most beloved friends, and I realized just how much I have taken for granted all these years.
Katie and I have been friends since I walked into a new school on the first day of fourth grade. She introduced herself to me that day, and she’s been a part of my life ever since. Sometimes Katie and I go for spurts where we don’t talk for a year or two at a time, but she’s that friend I know I can pick right back up with, and it will always seem like no time has passed all. After all these years, Katie and I just get each other. Together, we’ve weathered it all–mall bangs, junior high bullies, SAT prep, awkward notes to boys, car wrecks, marital wrecks. It’s because of Katie’s friendship and support I managed to survive all of those things. She’s keenly perceptive, compassionate, upbeat, and quick to laugh, and her ability to see the humor in an awkward situation has always helped me to do the same, and laugh at my own weird self. How amazing is it to have a friend like that for almost thirty years?
Kristal came into my life in either seventh or eighth grade, and shame on me for not being able to remember. She moved in right next door to Katie, which was awfully convenient for me, since I lived about 200 yards away. Kristal has always been the sweetest person I know–honestly, the sweetest, and not in the way people overuse that sentiment. She is bright, instilled with a deep desire to help others, and extraordinarily loving and forgiving. She is one of the best listeners I’ve ever met, and that’s a more rare quality than it should be. We spent time at each other’s houses after school all throughout high school, doing homework, watching movies, and talking about our families, friends, religion, the future–the big stuff. Kristal is the friend who will text out of the blue just to make sure you’re OK. She’s that person. I am so grateful for her.
I sat across the table from these ladies this morning and thought about all the years I’ve spent feeling like I didn’t really “get” women–like I didn’t have girlfriends. It’s true, I didn’t run with a pack of girls in school like some teenagers do. I was more of a floater type, who didn’t have a set group of friends. Instead, I had a lot of acquaintances. I spent a lot of years (a lot) feeling like I had never really fit anywhere, and that I just must not be much good at friendships with other women. But I’ve realized, over the last several months, that I have had it all completely backward: While I floated, and enjoyed the association of all those acquaintances, I was grounded by the friendship of a few girls who really cared about me. They were always there for me, when I floated back. I realized today that I have have taken for granted just how important these friendships have been to me, both in my adolescent years, and now, in my adulthood.
I don’t think it’s any secret that the last several months have been difficult for me. Things have been in upheaval in my personal life, and I can’t always talk about what’s going on. I’ll say honestly that I’m not always handling that very well. I feel isolated, sometimes, by my circumstances, and some days I’ve been extraordinarily lonely. For whatever reason, each time I have a day when I feel like I cannot handle the crushing burden any longer, a friend reaches out to me. Each time, it’s a woman I respect and admire. Each time, it’s someone who doesn’t really know much or anything about what’s going on with me, but I believe each of these women knows me well enough to see that maybe I need her help. Each time, her kindness has saved me in some small way.
The other day, I was driving to pick up my five-year-olds from school, and the song “Team” by Lourde came on the stereo. I’ve heard it dozens of times, but this time, it made me burst into tears. As I listened to the chorus, I was suddenly struck by the thought of these women who have reached out and lifted me, supported me, carried me:
We’re on each other’s team
And you know we’re on each other’s team
We’re on each other’s team
Something about that idea finally clicked for me; these ladies were my team. They hadn’t, I’m sure, talked to each other about me. But they were on my team. They were my team. They were there to support me, even if they didn’t know why.
How grateful I am for the friendship of other women. It’s an idea I’ve taken a long time to warm up to, though I’ve taken advantage of it my whole life. As I sat across the table from my wonderful friends this morning, I realized just how widely woven the web of my team is–it spans the country, and stretches continents. It gives and pulls to allow us to stretch and grow and go our own separate directions, and then come back to each other when we need support, or just a really good laugh.
If you’ve been on my team, these last several months, thank you. You have made my burdens lighter, and things have gotten better. You are part of the reason I’ve survived the worst. I love each of you for that. Thank you for loving me enough to care about me and reach out to me. Thank you for being my team.