Recently, I was reconnected with a childhood friend whom I haven’t seen in 25 years. Instantly, memories of our youth came flooding back, and we were five and six again, getting ready to perform in our first dance recital together. There is a picture of us, somewhere in my photo album archives, dressed in our bunny rabbit costumes, mothers’ lipstick and eye shadow embellishing our young, round faces. We sat side by side, legs crossed, my friend looking confidently at the camera, and me looking sideways at my older, self-assured comrade, wanting to be just like her.
Friends are those people who act as the mortar to our bricks, the yarn to our sweaters, the oars to our boat. They’re there to hold us together when we’re falling apart, and keep us warm when we suffer the chill of defeat. They are our non-biological sisters and brothers; the family members we get to choose.
And while there will always be those “friends” who stay for a short while before moving onto other things, the true friends - a small, yet solid group of kindred spirits - remain even in our darkest hours. They serve as our support system, cheering from behind, and never crossing in front of us to that finish line. They push us to search the depths of our souls for who we are and what we’re meant to do. They help us uncover our hidden strengths, and they sober us when our heads become too clouded with self-serving notions.
Some friendships have origins dating back to our earliest years, while others find us only when we’ve already grown into the adults we were destined to be. Each friendship is unique in its purpose, in that each union provides unique opportunities for individual growth.
Over the years, there have been friends in my life who have served to point out my flaws, and others who have helped me learn to celebrate them. There were friends who taught me how to laugh and others who showed me that only a strong person allows herself to cry.
Friends are a necessary part of our existence, providing an outlet, and at times, safe haven, from those biological friends known as our family. They are the ones who share a common history with us, having grown up during the same time, licking the same adolescent wounds, hoping to achieve the same rites of passage.
True friends don’t laugh (much) the first time they see you with your braces and head gear. They keep secrets about fighting parents and rendezvous with boys. They dream with you about first loves, first dates and wedding days.
Despite time and miles, my true friends still welcome me home, to the place we all first began sharing our journey. We still can talk for hours over coffee, much to the displeasure of our waitress who just wants to end her shift and go home, and long after all other customers have left.
We still laugh at the absurdity of society’s expectations, as we always were and still remain, just on the outside of those norms. And we still celebrate one another’s accomplishments, although our goals in life have changed.
So to my kindred spirits, for whom the word “friend” falls short of describing my true feelings, I celebrate each of you for the memories we share, the growth we’ve achieved and for the simple joy you have given me all these years.
Happy Friendship Day.
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