“Close friends are truly life’s treasures. Sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves.”
-Vincent Van Gogh
“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”
Growing up, my friendships were full of drama—girl drama, to be exact. One week, my friends and I were BFFs and the next mortal enemies, and then we were back to sitting together at lunchtime in the school cafeteria. In college, it wasn’t much better. I had a roommate who I considered to be a good friend but who belittled me at every chance she could and took advantage of me (and my car) when she needed me most.
By the time I was in my early 20s, I could count the number of close friends I had on one hand and one of them just moved to another part of the country. I figured everyone else would keep in touch or not, and it didn’t matter to me which way that went. Thankfully, I have friends now that I would have loved to have had growing up. I wish I didn’t have to wait years to meet them, but I’m forever grateful to them. Here are two quick stories that represent my friends.
Yesterday, I met Susie in Philadelphia for dinner and drinks. Susie and I met at professional conferences back in the day when we were both program directors at our respective synagogues. We represent half of a quartet of women who had similar jobs, and though we’ve moved on from those positions, we kept in touch over the years. Susie is from Denver, Karen lives in Dallas, and Judy is in San Diego. So when Susie told me she was coming to town this month, I marked my calendar and made sure I was available. The chance for any of us to see each other in person is rare these days, and I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to give her a huge hug.
Even though it was her birthday weekend, she came bearing gifts. She bought me a new umbrella because I left mine in her backpack the last time we saw each other. That was seven years ago, but she always wanted to replace it. She also brought me my favorite breath mints —orange tic tacs. I always carry a box in my purse, and when she sees them, she thinks of me. How sweet is that!
What a fun night! After a great meal with Susie and her siblings, laughing and catching up like old times, we hung out in her hotel lobby until it was time to say goodbye. We are already talking about our next meet-up.
And now, let me tell you about my second group of friends, the ones I have a lot of fun with, a lot of deep conversations with, and who I share my life with. Jill is one of these friends. We also come to each other’s rescue at a moment’s notice. Like today, when I lost my wallet for a brief period of time. After a trip to the city to see an exhibit at the Franklin Institute and have lunch, we realized we got on the wrong train home. We couldn’t believe it because we had both taken the train hundreds of times before. But we made the mistake of trusting two SEPTA employees who gave us the wrong information.
Anyway, we were so thrown off that we decided to disembark at the next stop and call her husband to come pick us up. To make a long story short, I soon discovered I no longer had my wallet with me. I swore up and down I left it on the train. Without hesitation, Jill jumped into my car to help me retrace my steps. I reported my wallet missing at the lost and found and decided to return to the train station and hijack the next train to see if my wallet was still in my seat. She was on board.
Side note – Can you hijack a train?
Anyway, I was so distraught. I hate when I do stupid things. But Jill kept me calm and was convinced we would find it. She told me she believed in the kindness of strangers. She even shared her theory that because the train was traveling away from the city, the likelihood of someone stealing it was minimal. She is a persuasive lawyer and good under pressure, so I believed her.
This is what a good friend does. She gives me the hope I’m looking for even though I fully expect to spend my weekend standing in line at the DMV and calling the bank and credit card companies to replace everything. Jill asked me what else was in my wallet, and that was when my heart sank even further.
“I had a $5 off coupon for my next manicure in there,” I told her.
“Noooo!” Such a good friend, Jill understood this immediately and could sympathize.
Son of a bitch! I spent a lot of time paying full price for my manicures. I earned that coupon!
Anyway, we drive back to the station, ready to accost the train conductor and demand to be let back on the train. But it turned out that wasn’t necessary. My wallet was right where I left it —lying on a nearby bench on the platform. We hugged and cried with joy. Okay, she didn’t cry, but I got a little teary-eyed (good thing I have eye drops for that!).
Thank God for my friends who live near and far, who tell me what I need to hear or hug me in person or virtually when I need it. I am grateful to all of you and love you dearly.