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In praise of long-haul friendship

Photo – Drew, Lily, Stevie, Me, Kristin, Karen. Circa 2002.

Pt. 9/31 in the in the Moon Cycle blog series.

Today I received an email from my friend Stevie, addressed to a group of five women who have been friends for approximately 15 years. Some of our friendships began in middle school and early high school, but by senior year of high school we’d become our own little gang. It might have been the kind of friendship that peaked in high school and dissolved as we went on to lead very different lives, but from some magic concoction of love, affection, admiration and effort, our relationships have lasted. We graduated high school more than a decade ago but still call, email, check in and find ways to cross the country to see one another.

What does it mean to have friends like this? We’re each very different, and have pursued very different life paths. Yet we know and love each other on a fundamental level. There are things we know about one another we might not quite remember about ourselves; Stevie, for instance, can tell me dreams I shared with her in chemistry class, and can remember actions I took – for good, bad or otherwise – that had totally fled my memory. Lily remembers conversations we had in middle school, Kristin held my hand while I got my tattoo, and I still think about a note Karen once wrote on a little card and hid in my room more than 10 years ago. That kind of love, over the years, through the ebbs and flows and disillusionment of adult life? It’s priceless. I’ve seen so relationships that I thought would last but haven’t (and on that subject highly recommend Courtney Martin’s column on the topic) that I feel extra gratitude for what has made this web of connection so resilient.

We’ve been there for one another through weddings, funerals, babies being born, anti-war protests being organized, creative projects launching, grad school, law school, being broke, car breakdowns, breakups (oh so many breakups!), new loves, cross-country moves, Obama’s inauguration, international adventures, work challenges and just about any other situation you can imagine that requires bravery that you didn’t quite know you had. But somehow we always see that bravery in one another – the potential of our best selves – and reflect it back for each other. And we laugh. We laugh so hard. It helps that one of us is a comedian, actor and just generally amazing performer, but we can all make each other laugh in a way that only old friends can. This summer, we met in LA at the house of our dear friend Drew, and we spent an entire weekend laughing, lounging and just enjoying the moment.

This fall Lily got married, and three of us were able to make it to her wedding reception in Chicago. I had the chance to give a toast for one of my best friends, who has been inspiring me to be a better human for going on two decades. And then Stevie, Kristin and Lily got on stage and, with the help of Lily’s friend Lindsay (filling in for a very pregnant Karen) we were able to recreate one of our favorite scenes from the high school years – driving round Indy and going absolutely nuts to dancing to the Proclaimer’s “I Would Walk 500 Miles”.

(And if you want a taste of how special my friends are, check out Lily & Charlie performing a musical interlude at their own wedding.)

What else is there to say? Today I asked myself what I wanted to write, and what came out was a love letter to my friends, Lily, Karen, Kristin and Stevie. It’s a prayer of gratitude to the gods of friendship that threw us all together in a great big suburban high school in a midwestern city with not much to do except drive around town, spending late nights in Karen’s kitchen, making dents on the counter from sitting on it too long, talking and laughing over tea. It’s a thing of wonder and beauty to be part of a quintet of people who have maintained a commitment to one another for so long. Ladies, I think you’re grand.

Today’s moon status: Super gorgeous, just hanging out all dazzling and glowing in the night sky. As it waxes towards full it’s pretty hard to miss if you look up in the evening. Look up!

Filed under: Moon Cycle

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A traveler, a listener, a gleaner of stories.

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