The Art of Friendship

My 10th High School Reunion is coming up! But, I won’t be there. Not because I don’t want to be or anything. It would be really cool. And I can understand why so many sitcoms use the “High School Reunion” scenario. It’s because you want everyone to see how well you’ve done – or you want old friends to see that you’ve lost weight – or you don’t want to go because you’re embarrassed – or you want to see that your life is better than everyone else’s. I would be quite selfish, probably, and want to go show off my husband who is really nice-looking and has a sexy accent. I wasn’t really selfish in high school, so daydreaming about showing off seems like less of a sin. 🙂

But, I would be quite happy to see those people I graduated with living equally happy lives. I do sincerely want the best for them. And that makes me not such a horrible person?

The Art of

So I’ve been thinking about my high school experience lately. Do you remember when you were in junior high/intermediate and high school, wondering who would be valedictorian or salutatorian? The top 10% were always honoured in some way. I remember that five highest grade point averages gave little speeches at graduation – The Valedictorian got to say whatever they wanted. I think one of them did the invocation or the benediction, but the others were given topics like “Success”, “Moving On”, or “Friendship”.

The “Friendship” topic was in high demand, and I can recall the girls talking about how they just did not know what they would do without their friends – How could they possibly go off to college and leave all their friends? Many of them, I believe, stayed and went to the nearby university. I don’t know if this was due to finances, family, relationships, or fear of losing friends. For many, I’m sure it was finances. Live at home and save money. But, I used to imagine: What would I say about friendship if I were given the chance?

Honestly, I would have tried to turn the topic elsewhere. Something like: Many of us are leaving behind the people that make us feel safe and comfortable. But, we are going forward to bigger and brighter things. To more friendships. To more people that understand us. To a world and an adventure bigger than anything we have known so far. And then my speech would have turned into a rant on adventure, because adventure is obviously more important than friendship. Right?

I’m not so sure anymore. They kind of go hand-in-hand now.

Anyway, the topic of “friendship” was my least favourite of all the topics given. I guess I thought that friendship was for the weak – for those that, in my mind, lived a different kind of life. Because I was in school pre-High School Musical. I was in school during the era when the cool people had the “real” friends. The ones you would want to have.

No one was like me in high school, so I guess feelings of loneliness started there. I never felt lonely at home, and my mom was my best friend – which I’m really glad about, especially looking back. I mean, I had what you might be able to call friends in high school. Friends that made me feel bad about eating healthy food because they were eating unhealthy food, friends that said they would go to the big banquets with me and took someone else, friends that stayed silent while I struggled through depression and anxiety, and friends who disappeared when my dad was in a car accident. But, writing about friendship seemed like a waste of time.

I don’t think it’s such a waste of time to write about now. So here I am. And here is what I know about friendship. What do you think of when you think of “friendship”?

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Real friendship is not shallow. Real friendship is lasting.

Real friendship doesn’t get angry when you don’t call, and you don’t get angry when they show up late. It’s patient and kind. It doesn’t get jealous or try to one-up you. It’s not selfish. It wants your good. (1 Cor. 13)

Friendship is about community. It’s a form of family. We may not see one another every day, like in high school. We might be halfway across the world, as most of my friendships are. But, we are the same. We watch each other grow up and grow old. By helping each other, we because happier and healthier together.

Friendship is mutual, but not always easy. Sometimes a good friend goes through a bad time, and that is when you stay by their side. That is when you get close, and that is when you are welded together and real, trusting friendship is forged in the fire. You love them in spite of their flaws or troubles and they love you in spite of yours – mutually.

Friendship is a gift. When a good friend comes along, you have found a blessing. You have gotten lucky. If you find someone that can cry with you, and that you care enough about to cry with, then you have found a bottle of precious tears. There is a lot of magic in those tears. If you find someone that can laugh with you, and at you, and at life, and you can do the same

Deep friendship is not exclusive, but it is not freely given. My best friend taught me this. I wanted to be everyone’s best friend, and in trying to do that, I spread myself too thin and even made myself sick. Don’t feel bad if you can’t be there for everyone. We are human. Be a friend, but know that the deepest friendships can only come two or three at a time.

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My mom always told me that when I went off to college, I would make life-long friends that had the same interests as me and were more like me. I’m glad she was right. To miss out on that kind of friendship would be sad. I was content before, but having real best friends and trying to be a real best friend for them, is one of the most continuously rewarding experiences that any human being could ever know.

Looking back over my life thus far, I can now see that friendship is not fluffy. It’s not about who you can give the other half of your friendship necklace or bracelet to. It’s not just pink and girly. It’s rough. It’s blood, sweat, and tears. It’s adventure on one of the highest degrees. It’s climbing a mountain, but climbing it with someone else. And that, my friends, is a pretty good deal.

Reality of Fairy Tales

What does a fairy tale really look like?

I’m sitting here in a sun-drenched bach, looking out the window at green mountains and valleys – out into the ocean and the beach down the hill, out to boats resting in the harbour for the winter. The water is so blue, I could easily mistake it for sky, so the boats look like little seagulls flying far away. The song of native birds rings out in the air – beautiful hymns that the tui sings with the angels and happy, joyful tunes from the fantails as they flit and float through the trees. The deep, intimate ballads of the wind and the sea makes it easy to feel that I am one with this place – that nature doesn’t mind sharing itself with me.

Untitled design (2)When Mark & I were married eight months ago, I felt a sort of happiness that I’d not felt before. It was similar to the calm I feel right now, sitting here. That everything was alright in the world – that I was one with another person. He and I are the same.

We have only been married for those mere eight months, but I have a different view of a fairy tale than I had before we got married. I mean, I knew that marriage was hard, and I was not soooo naïve that I thought we were going to live the rest of our lives in a magical castle and ride together on horseback every afternoon of our lives. I knew that I probably wouldn’t be wearing a crown or that fluffy pink dress every day for the rest of my life. Fairy tales have a use, but they look a bit different when they aren’t animated and people aren’t singing and dancing like a flash mob wherever you go.

Having said that, marriage is better than I imagined. You know how the prince and the princess ride away in their carriage after the wedding and you don’t really know what happens in “happily ever after”? In this “honeymoon stage” of my marriage, I feel like the movie should start with the wedding. Yeah, I’m lonely sometimes (even though I have Mark) and I get sad and homesick, but there is another person with me. I am his and he is mine. Where he goes, I go. Where he stays, I stay.

This goes for friendships, too. Mark is my best friend, but I have other best friends as well. I have a best friend in Holliday, a couple in Oklahoma, another in Dallas, and luckily, one in New Zealand. They bring me peace and comfort. And I think that a committed friendship is like marriage in a lot of ways. My best friends are my friends for life and we don’t give up on each other in the hard times. We get closer.

So, sitting here in the Coromandel, gazing out the windows into the sunshine, listening to the wind and waves soothe our souls, I reflect on peace and I reflect on my friendship and on my marriage. I am grateful for the friendships my husband has – that we can be here with his friends, and that he is out there now spearing fish with his friend’s spear gun, wearing another friend’s weight belt.

I am thankful that our friend found a octopus yesterday. I never dreamt of ever seeing one in real life.the octopus

I am thankful for the starfish and the kina we found.

I am thankful for the quartz and jasper at the top of the ocean.

I am thankful my husband let me bring home seashells and random rocks.

I am thankful that he found a perfect paua shell for me to keep.

I am thankful for the sunset’s colours pouring out over the Coromandel cliffs and valleys.

I am thankful for these little things.

Mark has finished his studies for nursing, and took his final test last week – the state exam. He has been offered a job where we wanted to be, and so many others won’t get jobs or interviews this time around. We have a roof over our heads, and a fireplace for the winter.

I am thankful for all these big things.

I get to experience a fairy tale – walking barefoot on the sand with my lover, my husband, my best friend – sharing my life with him, laughing when he laughs and crying when he is sad. I am thankful for this life in the good and the bad. And I want to remember to do that for the rest of my life. My happiness doesn’t depend on my husband or my friendships. But they do enhance my life.

This fairy tale – this life we have – is ongoing, and I’m glad it doesn’t end with a wedding.