She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind. ~Toni Morrison, Beloved
There are days when I want to literally curl up into my Inbox and just wait. I could find a cozy spot between the sent items and saved drafts and just wait. I would even settle for making a bed with the piles of junk mail and deleted items. Just To Wait.
Life might be easier this way, if all we were expected to do with our days was wait to hear from our best friend. A friend who gets us completely.
My best friend and I email each other almost every day. Sometimes I have great difficulty in coping with the fact that we have the adjective “Long Distance” attached to our friendship for what could be a very long time. But we have a bond that I cannot explain. She Knows Me. I Know Her. And at the end of each day we cling to that understanding.
Our emails are a mess. A Literal Mess. Sure, you could uncover the paragraphs. The punctuation. The breaks and beginnings. But our hearts are splattered all over the messages. I sometimes think after I send an email to her that I should recieve a notification that says “Mailbox over size limit” because we pack so much emotion, hope, desperation, questions & answers, and an overwhelming love for life into each email. No gigabyte or megabyte seems justifiable.
Someone asked me the other day what was the best thing about my friendship with her. “She knows my whole heart,” I said. “And she doesn’t judge me for any of it.”
I guess as we grow older we learn what is important and not so important when it comes to friendship. I once thought friendship was all about quantity. Lots of friends on the playground. Plenty of friends to sit next to at lunch. Too many friends on Facebook. Always people to text message. But sometimes having so many friends can make us feel so little in this world. Insignificant, as we cling to our generic messages and irrelevant friend requests.
I now see that friendship is about something much deeper than numbers like “7” or “12.”
My mother always warned me not to pick and choose my friends like colors out of a crayon box. She feared the ease I found in becoming bored with one and moving onto the next in such a natural manner. I always replied that it was best to have a lot of friends. “A lot of friends, Hannah?” she would ask. “Or real friends?”
She waited for me to learn (in the way no parent ever hopes for: The Hard Way) that friends, real friends, are there without question. They are not be seeking out the next best route to make us feel worthless or weak. Friends, real friends, are loyal to a fault. They lend relevance to the cliche “catching you when you fall,” as they know when to stop walking next to us and start walking close behind. Arms Out. Ready for the Catch. Friend, real friends, never give us a reason to ask if our secrets are safe with them. We trust the second that the deepest intimacies of our souls reach their ears they are tucked straight into the heart. Locked and Keyed. And there they stay.
Friends, real friends, let us Wallow, Cry, Scream, Be Mad at the World. They accept broken hearts and bad moods as currency to our friendship on some days. But they are real friends because they know when to tell us to snap out of it, to straighten ourselves up and get back out there in the world. Friends, real friends, know when our sadness is no longer an excuse for missing out on life, when our delusions have gone too far and when we need to smarten up before the World deals us a harsh lesson. Friends, real friends, are the kind who rejoice in our victories. We count on them. To Celebrate. To Commend. To Be Proud. They also give reality checks and bring us back down to earth when we get ahead of ourselves.
Friends, real friends, help us to uncover things that we were not meant to find on our own. Sometimes diligence. Other times passion. Sometimes kindness. Other times persistence. Friends, real friends, are a saving grace in a world that seemingly becomes scarier every single day. Because this world comes with a lot of potential for pain: bullies on the playground, broken hearts on the concrete, broken dreams in the gutters.
Sometimes there are no better words than this to describe a true friend: No matter where you are, in your hometown or a big city, someone, somewhere knows your heart. They know the pieces. They know the stories. They know the struggles. And they choose not to judge you for the mess that you are. Someone, somewhere, carries you in their heart wherever they go. And that will always surpass carrying around a number like “1,700 Facebook friends” or “300 followers.”
Someone, somewhere, never made you a number. An obligation. A project. A chore. They simply made you a friend and, in a world that seemingly requires so much to be happy, it became all you never knew you were even missing in life.