Recently I was going through old photos, of me and some of my early childhood friends. Snapshots taken at various times, birthdays, play-dates, school gatherings, etc, you know, the usual get- togethers children congregate for. I recognized all the faces, and memories hit me like bricks, stuff I hadn't thought of in years. I looked at each face, and realized, maybe not for the first time, the who and what kind of people shaped my individual life.
- There were my cousins, first and foremost, not only because they are family, but because we got along, and love (for the most part) flowed evenly.
- There was the girl next door, who if not for her in our early childhood, I think I would have been lonely, because my older brother and her older brother didn't want us hanging around them and their friends.
- There was the girl down the street, "the girl with the pointy glasses" as my cousin used to call her, who if not for her, I don't think I would have learned to draw and be just the little artistic that I am.
- There was the girl who lived around the corner, who if not for her, I wouldn't have learned the meaning of humility, after I stepped into her house and witnessed her entire family screaming with sorrow over the loss of a pet bird.
- There was the girl who's family was poor, who if not for her, I wouldn't have learned what it meant to be scraping by with dignity.
- There was the girl, who if not for her, I wouldn't have learned what it meant to accept people with a disability, her mom suffered from Cebral Palsy.
- There was the girl who, if not for her, I would not know the meaning of guilt. I left her, because of the fight her brother and mine got into. She was a good friend, but because of some stupid allegiance to my brother, I dumped our friendship with no explanation. That still haunts me today, and I wish I could go back.
Then there were pictures of life after early childhood, the teenage years. In School we all make friends, most people make friends for life, I wasn't so lucky. After grade school, any chance of lasting friendship, went downhill in lieu of a boyfriend that started in my sophomore year of High School, and he became my world. Friends dotted the landscape, mostly his friends, people I wanted them to like me, because I liked him. But there were no solid relationships, nothing I can look back on and remember fondly, only as a matter of fact. For that matter, the only real friends I counted on were the same age(ish) cousins, who lived 3 hours from my home, they probably kept me in check when I needed the kind of friends everyone else had. When I started to drive, I found myself driving that 3 hour trek, just to be around them, because I needed them, even if they didn't need me. I had a desire to know I had friendship, I needed to talk with them about stuff everyone else was talking about. I needed my cousins just to hang and feel better about teenage angst.
So I don't have a lot of pictures today of my current friendships, which is funny, given my love of photography. Right now, there are a few friends who mean the world to me.
- One stems from knowing each other in early childhood, not because we were great friends at the time, but because we connected later in life and realized we should be friends. She means a whole lot to me, even though we don't see each other as much as I'd like, just knowing that we can connect at any minute, sits in my heart like a bright beautiful rainbow.
- One stems from a job we had together. This friendship was unexpected, our lives were thrown together because of a mutual set of acquaintances. Suddenly we shared a daily commute to and from that work, and we had some awesome conversations, shared some magnificent epiphanies, and laughed a great deal. It hurts that she lives so far away now, that our one on one time is now confined to a brief visit. In fact I just saw her, and when we parted, I walked away crying, because we both know its useless to try anything else.
- One stems from new motherhood. She and I have daughters about the same age. She and I connected in a natural way, just getting each other. It's a nice, and easy friendship, I completely appreciate her, and I think she appreciates me too.
- Of course there are other friends that I adore. I love to be around them, gather news, learn about their lives, know what's new. And I think of them often and would love to get together more, but our lives are busy, I understand that. I appreciate when they think of me, and I hear of something we can do together, it's always lovely in so many ways.
- And the most wonderful, fulfilling, loving friendship of all, is my family. My parents, my brother, my husband and daughters. It's a different kind of friendship truly, but the best of all.
Friendship is bigger than we think, I wonder how many people take these friendships we have for granted? I try not too, because it's part of who I am as a person. From the that first baby your mom sat you down next too, to the person you sit across from at the local coffee bar today, it's someone to connect with, someone to share, laugh or cry with, it's a person like you, or even the opposite of you, that makes life full.
It's still shaping my individual life.