This is the post that I've been wanting to write since I first thought about doing a blog. I've restrained myself from writing it though, hoping I'd have a better perspective on what friendship actually is after I had some time to reflect on the subject.
When moving from Atlanta became a reality, what kept popping up in my mind was that I was going to have to leave my friends. I thought of all of the people who I would miss seeing on a regular basis. There were many more people in this category in Atlanta than anywhere else I had lived. I hadn't realized before exactly how many people I considered as friends. This was something new for me - to actually have a lot of friends. It made me consider why this was true. Why did I have so many friends in Atlanta when I'd never experienced this before?
As a child, I was very shy and had a few friends but not many. This was true through high school and college. Even in law school, I had only one friend. Once I started working, I had friends who I got to know through work, but there really wasn't much time to hang out. Being a working mother is like two full time jobs so there is little energy left over for friends.
So it was really only after I stopped working full time and after about five decades on this planet that I actually started acquiring friends. When I asked myself why I was able to enjoy these friendships in Atlanta and never really had a lot of friends before, I realized that it was not just having more time to devote to friends (although that is definitely part of it). What I learned is that in order to have friends, you have to be a friend and that's not as easy as it might sound. It takes effort and devotion. To really be a friend one must give as well as get; be there when needed to listen to a rant or to sympathize; sometimes do the tough thing and give a kick in the butt as necessary; give advice even when not asked and be open to taking advice when a friend offers it; make sure that there is a lot of fun and laughter in the relationship, including being in touch with the silly side of things.
I pride myself on being a world class luncher. It's not for everyone, but lunch is a misunderstood and often overlooked opportunity to take a break from the day and enjoy the moment. Barry's idea of lunch is to shovel something into his mouth as fast as he can as he sits at his desk and works. My idea of lunch is exactly the opposite. Stop, eat and enjoy, preferably with a friend. Lunch was my primary social vehicle in Atlanta, and I hope to keep that up in Denver, as I already begin to assemble some good lunchers. It was really at lunch that I got to know people, shared their ups and downs, and created bonds that I hope will go on for a lifetime.
I definitely miss those Atlanta lunches. But what I've learned after two months plus away from Atlanta is that I still feel bonded to my friends there. Even if I don't see them or communicate, I feel like I could pick up exactly where I left off because of the relationships we had before. So, even though I tear up as I write this, I don't feel as empty as I thought I might without these folks. I feel like they are here with me. And I'm thankful for that.