The Price of True Friendship
Friendship. It’s a scary precipice for me. How many true friends do we have in life? What does letting people beyond the veneer give us, especially when it seems so few people really want to be included? Why does life rob us of the microscopic few who choose to bite off our issues and neuroses?
The wake of my life is littered with failed friendships. A person I knew most of my life chose a different fork in the trail and ended up walking away from me. Sometimes, I still want to tell her my innermost thoughts in the moments before I realize I can’t. There’s the investment I made in a person who cut everyone to shreds, including me, but it took me years to realize the folly of that relationship. The end wasn’t pretty or clean. My biggest failure was in helping someone through the burning trials of unhappy hell, only to be cast aside when life turned rosy.
I’m not blameless in these situations. For most of my life, I’ve had a tendency to think people want focused intensity in interactions, that by sharing some of my innermost self with others, they will gravitate to me or somehow want to know me better. Consequently, I’m afraid I smother people.
A little over a decade ago, I met a girl with weird architect glasses and the thickest long hair I’d ever seen. Like me, she grew up in a blip on the South Carolina map, but I guess the real reason I reached out to her was her spirit. In scant glimpses, it sought the best in others at a time when I was surrounded with negative energy. I’ve never questioned why she was placed in my path. We often joke about how she is the female version of MTM. I like to think knowing Alice helped me see MTM when he cut through one steamy July afternoon.
Over the course of a decade, I got married. She had Cayleigh, one of the true delights of my life. I started a business. She became a partner in a thriving architecture practice. Being a few months apart in age, we synchronized our dissatisfaction with how we spent our working lives. Her willingness to listen to my crazy journey to become a published author probably kept me sane. I have yet to reach that goal.
She’s hit her mark, though. One of the first things she told me when we met was how much she wanted to teach architecture at the college level. This month, she is moving to Baton Rouge to take a position on the faculty at LSU.
When we love someone, we want them to be happy, even if it means we’re bereft. Lost. Malnourished. My weekly lunches and other conversations with Alice have become necessary food for my soul.
The true price of friendship is the cost of that need. Life has a habit of exploiting the needs we dare to have.
For my birthday this year, Alice gave me time, a day for us to spend doing whatever I wanted. My series in the coming days will flutter around those hours and a few others, all in celebration of a friendship I treasure. Wherever it goes from here, the wake behind us is a thing of graceful beauty. A thing I didn’t smother. A thing I hope I’ve done well.