My dear friend Nancy visited this past weekend from Southern California. So much fun (so much that I forgot to take photos!). You know the type of weekend: coffee, walks outdoors, girl-talk, cooking, baby cuddling. More coffee. It was her first time visiting our new house, new neighborhood, new family life.
Nancy and I have known each other since we were 17 (!): it was dorm move-in day at college (our beloved Cal Poly SLO). I, for one, was terribly nervous about the whole thing and working the whole petulant/annoyed teen angle. Somehow, our moms started talking (isn't that always the way?) as we waited in the check-in line... we discovered we were to room across the hall from each other... we had a rollicking and hilarious freshman year... and the rest is history.
Once we were free from dorm life, we were roommates until she graduated (I had changed my major from architecture to art, landing on the 5-year plan). Nancy is that true-blue type of friend: fun, side-splittingly funny, considerate, giving and sweet. The type of person who makes you feel good, and when you talk after a long time apart, makes you feel like no more than 5 seconds had passed. As she would say, she's a gem. ...and did I say funny?! She comes from a family of irrepressible entertainers.
The other morning, as I was chugging along on BART to work, the 3G stars were aligned for my iPhone: I was able to download my mail while on a moving train. Underground. Technology... sweeeeet. Nestled amongst the spam and the daily J. Crew sale email (seriously... daily?) there was a little gem from my virtual pal Gwynnie.
No, Gwyneth Paltrow and I are not friends per se. But she does email me (and many others) a weekly tid bit on life, food, travel, spirit etc. I'm not exactly sure why Gwynnie is in this biz, but the emails are usually interesting.
Last week, as I was looking forward to Nancy's visit, the GOOP (Gwynnie's strange initials) email was about friends... actually it was about "divorcing" friends. Not a super warm fuzzy topic, but it was mostly a discussion about discerning between "true friends" and those you end up gravitating away from. How and when (and whether) you should decide to keep only friends who are positive influences...
I especially like the response from priest/writer Cynthia Bourgeault, excerpted here:
“Old friends” and “true friends” are not necessarily identical. Old friends have stood the test of time; true friends are timeless. True friends may have been in your life since your childhood or they may have shown up only yesterday, but it’s from the quality of the heart that you know them, not the number of years you’ve logged together.
"...these “friends forever,” however they play out in your particular life situation, always seem to share three characteristics: (1) They have a capacity to grow with you (and you with them) through life’s changing circumstances; 2) They are low-maintenance, rarely-to-never imposing themselves or laying expectations on you; and 3) contact with them, when it comes, is never a duty, but always a gift “heart to heart.” Such friends—always a rare and special breed — have an uncanny knack for being able to stay in tune with you emotionally over huge gaps of time and space. Maybe you don’t hear from them for three years — or thirty — but then the phone rings and there they are again, and it’s like picking up as if you never left off."
I am lucky to have a small but precious number of these true friends. They are truly cherished.
Online version of the GOOP email here.