Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Push/Pull of Friendship

Last weekend fell apart, in a sense. Ten friends were scheduled to descend upon our cabin to "lose our minds," as one husband describes it, for an entire weekend of girl time, dip noshing and silliness. But the pull of other, more important circumstances prevented it from happening. Federal Jury Duty. Commitments to family. Promotions at work resulting in Friday afternoon meetings (the nerve). Unruly, hormone-raging children requiring constant parental guidance. Difficulty in finding child care. You name it - the outside influences gathered like a storm cloud and rained on our annual parade.

So I pushed myself. To gather my things, and head to my second hometown, St. Louis. The town where my family moved during my junior year of High School and where I met a true friend for life. She needed me there with her, and I needed to be there. The Push/Pull of Friendship.

Sometimes we need to be pushed. To consider other perspectives, and to contemplate alternatives. To venture outside our comfort zones which either confirm what we believe to be true, or cause us to re-evaluate and readjust our positions and beliefs in life. Regardless, the result is good. Really good.

I pushed this past weekend. I listened carefully to my friend, then pushed her to think about a situation from multiple perspectives. To consider alternatives to her challenge. To look to the future and question: "What type of mother do I want to be to my children twenty years from now? What type of Grandmother do I want to be someday?"

And she pushed me. She listened to me whine about another friend who's been acting aloof. She made me consider the friend's situation; her outside influences. And that it likely isn't about me. She was right.

I also pulled her. I pulled her into my arms and hugged and kissed on her and told her she is a good mama. And that I have always, always admired her strength when we were teenagers, her perspective now as a woman and her dedication as a mother.

And she pulled me. She pulled me along with her on a five mile hike through the mountains of St. Louis on a workout that kicked my butt and left me crying about it the remainder of the weekend. She also pulled me to a delightful cafe where we sipped coffee and nibbled breakfast for three hours. And to a charming restaurant where we ditched the dip and dined on fabulous small plates for an entire evening. Our husbands would've bashed their heads against the walls in restaurants like that. We're convinced they were created for girlfriend gabbing.

I believe that having friends of varying depth is important. That friends of only a few years provide carefree fun and a surface-level easiness, while long lasting friends fuel the depth and seriousness necessary for reassurance and guidance as we make our way through life.

While pushing and pulling with my bestie, I also squeezed in some time to love on other friends.

Miss Mendy. This is only the third occasion I've spent time with her, but we quickly fell into a Frick and Frack kinda thing. I was thrilled she joined us for dinner on night one.

And Kim. We reunited last fall after a twenty year hiatus. Oh how I wish we lived closer!

Betsey! Where've you been hiding since college? Oh...that's right. You've been a verifiable baby-making machine. It is so reassuring to sit with someone you haven't seen in years to realize that you like them now for the same reasons you liked them then. Must. See. Her. Again.

Even guy friends can be a worthwhile investment when it comes to gaining perspective. I once dined quarterly with a group of five girlfriends and one guy. We called it the Girls +1 Club. The conversations at those dinners were unparalleled for the varying degree of topics - we discussed everything at some point. We loved hearing Ross weigh in and he reviled in five female perspectives. Interestingly, he came loaded with questions for us every time we met.

Since our High School reunion a few years ago, I've been chatting occasionally online with a friend and was so happy to see him in person and talk for real over the weekend. And I think he genuinely enjoyed the frank conversation between two girlfriends catching up without pausing to take a breath.
To all my single friends...Brian is available!
And that girls weekend of losing our minds? Rescheduled for October. Hopefully this time around the Push/Pull of Friendship will outweigh the other important elements in our lives.

And once again, my heart will sing.

XOXO,
Jen


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