I’ve been thinking about friendship, a lot. This photo was taken yesterday in Brooklyn. That is me and my dear friend, Grace. I was in Brooklyn to have lunch with her and say goodbye, because she and her family are moving back to Wisconsin. I have mixed emotions about this. I am happy for her because it will be easier and she will have more time to spend with her husband and child and more time for making art, which is very important to her. But, I’m sad because she will be far away and I have enjoyed being close to her again.
We met in Minneapolis and I can never remember the year because it really just doesn’t matter what year it was. We both participated in a summer art institute at the art college. I remember when I first saw her on that first day and I thought to myself: she is going to be my friend. I have those weird intuitive thoughts rarely; but, tend to believe them when they do come. At the end of the institute, I made some goofy overture that probably sounded incredibly awkward. Something along the lines of: I like you and I’m wondering if you’d be interested in pursuing a friendship with me. Needless to say, she saw something in me other than my lack of suave.
I left Minneapolis in 2006 and moved to Portland, OR to finish recovering from my accident and that must have been hard for her. She had a toddler at home and was navigating those first years of “new mom.” I should ask her about it. I was still not quite myself then and I really don’t even remember our conversations about my leaving. While I was in Portland, she and her family moved to Brooklyn, which made it immensely easier for me to move to NJ, a short train ride away. And I know we both have enjoyed being close again. I was here to be supportive as she grieved the death of her mom and she helped me through my initial loneliness after coming here. Sometimes, we went long periods without actually seeing each other; but, just knowing I could hop in my car and be at her house in an hour was so comforting.
It’s an odd time in my life: I recently lost my grandfather and have been worrying about my grandmother, alone for the first time in 68 years; my best friend is going to be far from me now and something extraordinary is happening: I’m falling in love and she is such a wonderful surprise in my life. I know that Grace feels sad about leaving; but, I think it’s easier knowing she is leaving me in good hands and she has gotten to see the happiness settle back into my life as I have created a home for myself after drifting for a few years. I’m always surprised by how life works: the ebb and flow. In one day, I get to feel the sadness of loss and the beginnings of love. And it makes me want to go out on my balcony and shout: I love this life and all it’s crazy wonder.
Why am I talking about friendship and love on a library blog?
As we all know, it’s tax season again and in the public library world that means a test of our ability to remain patient and compassionate. It has been difficult and my coworker and I try to remind each other of our good fortune in life and how a little extra compassion and patience is really within our capacities and we should offer nothing less. We remind each other how lucky we are to have love in our lives and for me, friendship is such a huge building block of that. Whether Grace is in Wisconsin or Brooklyn, I am lucky to have her in my life. She laughs at my jokes, gives me honest critiques when I ask and when I need it, she reminds me of my goodness and the beautiful life I am capable of creating and maintaining.
It is hard to move to a new place, alone. You have to start from scratch building a network of friends and acquaintances, people that make you laugh, drink coffee with you, invite you to a movie and who will give you the opportunity to help them if they need it. I am in the middle of that now. I’ve been here for a year and a half and I’m slowly inviting people into my life. Friendship is vital to my wellness.
How do we do our jobs well if we are lonely? How do we muster up the extra patience needed at tax time, if we don’t have a support network in place? How do we exercise compassion for difficult patrons and coworkers if we don’t have an opportunity to spend time with people who hug us and love us just the way we are?
On this day, let’s be grateful for the extraordinary and lovely people in our lives and acknowledge how much richer we are for their presence.