“My best friend is the man who in wishing me well, wishes it for my sake.”
My wife and I attended the wedding of two good friends recently. The bride looked amazing, the groom was serviceable, and the party carried well into the morning. We had a fantastic time. In fact, we had such a fantastic time that our blog topic for this week changed. We have been lucky that in the past few months, over Thanksgiving (in Minnesota), Christmas (in Seattle) and this wedding (in Portland), we have been able to see a lot of our close friends (and family). It has meant a lot to see them. Our friends bring us more joy than they probably know.
Life tends to offer a lot of seemingly high points and low points. It is difficult not to be overcome with disappointment or to be elated with joy at these points. Naturally, there are very real times when life offers devastation or elation, in which case these emotions are more than appropriate. However, I think many of us are overcome with emotions in situations that call for a much smaller reaction. Friends are there, I think, to keep up us grounded. They offer insight into our problems to make sure we keep a level-head and they offer levity to our successes to make sure that level-head doesn’t get too big. In short, friends are those that get us to become the person we want to be, when we are too timorous to be that person.
I have heard it said countless times that religion is a crutch for the weak. I think myself both spiritual and religious and I have no problem with this assessment. I for one know that I am weak and need a crutch as I limp along this journey. I tend to believe, however, that the phrase would be better served replacing “religion” with “friends.” Isn’t that in fact the case? Aren’t our friends simply a crutch to live life well? When we can’t muster the amusement to laugh, don’t our friends assist? When we can’t find the passion to persist, don’t our friends shoulder the weight? And when we simply need a warm body nearby, aren’t our friends at the ready? It seems our friends are the crutch that allows us to enjoy the life we live. And what a wonderful crutch they are.
At the aforementioned wedding, the wonderful bride and groom wrote their own vows. The vows were heartfelt and true. The bride, though, said something that stuck with me. Now, I apologize in advance for having to paraphrase, but, in essence, the bride told her soon to be husband that she will love his friends, and continue to learn to love them more fully, because they are the people that have made him who he is today. Obviously she was much more eloquent than I can ever hope to be, but the sentiment stuck with me. That is not an easy promise to make, but it is a beautiful promise to make. Our friends, for better or worse, have an amazing impact on who we are. To find someone that not only wants to learn to love your friends the way you do, but actually promises to do so, is truly finding someone who wants to understand who you are. What makes you tick. It is someone that honestly wants to know you. And that is probably the best kind of friend you can find. Lucky for this writer, I have friends that I count myself blessed to have. Even luckier, I have a best friend to walk with me each day and every day.
She Says: What you’re doing is only as great as who you’re doing it with.
When we first pondered our topic for this blog, there were a few great ones on the table that we debated on doing for several days. Then we went to back to Portland (one of our four “homes” …there, Seattle, St. Paul, Salt Lake) for a wedding of close friends from college. It was on the dance floor at the wedding reception that I shouted to the bride “best wedding ever!” to which she replied “I better make the blog then!” to my husband and I.
Immediately upon return to Salt Lake, my significant other exclaimed that “there is no way we can not not write about friendship.” And he was right. After a weekend of spending time with some of the best people we know, it was obvious our next excerpt would be about those we love.
And in typical fashion, because I love lists, I’m off to ramble about the top things I love about friendship – at this stage in my life – in no particular order.
- The morning after. I always look forward to a night out. And not because of the night itself per se, but because of what comes the morning after. Hungover, many times still in my pajamas, I trudge to the living room of whatever home I’ve crashed at the night before where the site of friends, equally as hungover, sit barely awake. Before we know it, the “oh my God, I just remembered …” phrase starts a story that leaves everyone in the room laughing until they’re in tears. And when we can’t laugh anymore, we all stand up hours later to grab a great bloody mary breakfast to cure the pain of last night’s beer.
- 2. Going to the chapel. Perhaps it is because I love a wedding. But more so than the wedding itself, I love seeing a friend happy because they’ve found the person they’ve decided to spend the rest of their life with. At this point in life, we’ve been to (and been in) enough weddings to sink a battleship. In fact, we get comments constantly about how many weddings we travel to attend. In six years, I can count three that we’ve missed – one was because my husband’s brother was getting married the same day, another because of my husband’s law school graduation, and last because I had just left my job and life was downright crazy. The other twenty plus we’ve made. Long story short, what I love about a wedding is the fact that it’s an honor and a true example of friendship to be one of few that the bride and groom think of when they first make that attendee list.
- 3. The baby is having a baby. When I think of myself, I still think I’m 23. I probably will for the rest of my life, which I figure is a good thing. But because I am that way, whenever I get the call that someone about my age is pregnant, the first thing that comes to mind is “God, they’re awfully young to be having kids.” Then I remember we’re in our late 20’s and it’s completely normal. And then I think “What a cool thing, that this person I have known for X years, who I watched grow up, and go through so much, is bringing a new person into the world.” (Insert gagging noise here … I know). But if you take a minute and actually think about your friend, and everything you’ve been through with them – at least for me – I start to think about all the things that one person used to worry about. All the times their heart was broken by a significant other. All the times they used to stay out with you until 5 am talking over wine. And then I think about how selfless they are to have a child. And how that selflessness is exactly why they are the good friend they are.
- 4. Birthdays. I love my family. In fact, I am obsessed with them and think they are the coolest people on earth. However, when it comes to birthdays, it always seems to be that quick text or email from a friend that makes the day that much more cool. The family dinner and cake from Borracchini’s that my mother insists on getting is always special. But on any birthday, I love hearing an old friends voice in a message saying “sorry it’s been a while, but I wanted to let you know that I’m thinking about you today” (or “happy birthday you old vagina” from certain friends who like to be drunk when they make their call).
- 5. The carefree-ness of it all. The random road trip. The last minute flight to Vegas. The quick happy hour after work. The Saturday shopping spree. The splurge on a nice dinner. The quiet movie night. The unforgettable camping trip. The concert unlike any other. I mean let’s face it … friends make the event you attend with them. As independent as I truly am, I’ve seen great plays on my own. I’ll grab a tea at Starbucks and sit and read. I’ll enjoy a Sunday breakfast solo. But none of those moments are quite as enjoyable as when they are with a friend. Chalk it up to human nature and people always feeling the need to be around others. I say it’s because what you’re doing is only as great as who you’re doing it with.
So there you have it folks. My quick brain dump of why I appreciate my friends as much as I do at this point in my life. I could honestly go on for days in explicit detail, but I’ll save it for another time. After all, my 10 year high school reunion comes up this summer and I know there’ll be some great tales to tell about friends … and maybe a few about some non-friends depending on how many mimosas I have at the brunch. We’ll see.