Every year I try and extend my birthday for as long as possible, Saturday we hosted a BBQ at our house. I did the invite of the moment, which is creating an event on Facebook, and invited people I hadn't seen in more than a year. I invited neighbors (who are now friends) and family too, but mostly it was a chance to invite some people who just might have the time to road trip to Fresno for a Saturday afternoon.
Of course not everyone on the list came. We are older now. We have kids in baseball and soccer, dance and gymnastics. It's not as easy to drum up some spare time on a Saturday afternoon anymore. Saturday was once a day for recovery, before you went out and did it all over again. Saturdays spent in bed, with last nights mascara, and a gin and tonic aftertaste. Those Saturdays are far behind me now, and far behind most of my friends. And it doesn't really bother us. We have found our grooves in this adult life. But sometimes those grooves don't allow for friendships as strong as they used to be.
Friendships give off the appearance of ease. But like with any relationship they are work, they require attention and love. Every year I make a pact with myself to be a better friend. I need to communicate better, to call more, to write more letters, to have fun text conversations about anything and everything. And every year this alludes me. I say things like "Life gets in the way" or "I have no time for anything", but that's not the whole truth. I have time. I blog. I Instagram as if I'm on their payroll. I watch my favorite shows on their designated nights. I read about 60 books a year. The truth is, I do have plenty of time to be a better friend.
Saturday, two of my very dear friends spent the day in my back yard. We laughed until we cried. We told stories about the "old" days. Memories that we have because we grew up together. Because we matured together. Stores of drunken debauchery. Stories of nights almost forgotten. There is something sacred in the stories you share in the most formative part of your life. No one else knows those stories. They can hear them, or hear about them, but they will never taste that memory like the one you shared it with. It was almost magical. As if we hadn't aged at all, as if we would always be twenty three or twenty four. As if we would never marry that guy, or take that job, or ever drink that much again. It was good for the soul and it was good for the sake of those friendships that so very sturdy and steadfast, despite the miles and the years between us.
I had a renewed faith in friendship on Saturday night. Friendships are about the thick and the thin. Some years friendships are thick with life and love. They are at the forefront. They are the first priority instead of the last. Other years friendships are thin. They are there, on your heart and in your mind, but the attention paid to them is scarce. Is there ever the possibility for balance? What is it about good solid friendships that survive the thick and the thin? How do those friends make the cut? Could it be that they were always destined to be your friends. That your paths crossed for a very simple reason: to be friends. I have friends, that are solid and steadfast. Friendships where the miles and the years don't matter. Friends that I love and have loved for a while. We have memories that will never fade, as long as we can recall them together. That the good old days will always remain between us. Maybe as we recall the good times we make new memories. We remember how good it feels to be in each others company and make more of an effort to get together for dinners and birthdays. Call each other just because, or send a card because it reminded you of them. Some friendships have the ease of years behind them. And those are the friendships that mean the most.
Monday night another friend's Dad passed away. It was shocking and sudden and all of the horrible things you can imagine. My first thought was to text her, to tell her how very sorry I was, how I had no idea what she was going through. My second thought was that she may not return that text, because we haven't seen each other in over a year. We live in the same city. She is one of my dearest friends I've had since moving to Fresno all those years ago. She was the first of all my friends to hold my daughter. And yet, life, hers and mine, have gotten in the way. Why would she return my text? Too little too late? But she is one of those friends, the ones that don't count the years or the miles. We went back and forth for a few minutes. Just enough time for me to tell her that I loved her. That I was thinking and praying for her. That whatever she needed, I'd do it, or be there to support her in it. I told her that I didn't even have the right words, and that I was sorry for that too. And she accepted it all. Regardless of time. Regardless of previous efforts or lack there of. Because there is something so sacred about friendships that start out when you least expect it, with people who may seem so different from you, but who, in reality are just like you in so many ways, and it just works.
Friendships can withstand the tests of time, marriage, and children, but you have to want them to. They can weather the storms of divorce or separation, the death of a loved one, or a parent. Friendship is just as hard and just as important as any relationship. I think we forget that. I think we get lost with the dynamics of friendships when they surpass late nights at the bars, sneaking back in to the sorority house, or road trips to nowhere. As adults, we get lost on how to foster our friendships without the obligatory dinners or nights out. We forget that the smallest gestures are the most important.
The best friendships live in the careful, watchful middle of the thick and the thin. That almost grey glow, between daily phone calls and every three month dinners. The glow of baby announcements and Christmas Cards, and ahey it's your birthday, and I'm thinking of you text messages. Thankfully I'm lucky to have put down roots with some pretty spectacular people. Who don't let things like miles and time cloud what has always been, the love between two friends.