(Note: Usually I use images to supplement my writing, but on rare occasions, I find inspiration from an image and start writing from that place. What follows has been inspired by the picture below, captured by a truly talented and creative friend, Brad).
Have you ever assumed that a friendship has played its course? That enough time has passed that it feels as though too much time has gone by- that it's too late to rekindle a childhood friendship that was filled with endless boardgames of Sorry, Sanrio stationary and sharing plates of greasy fries on Saturday nights? I certainly did.
So imagine my surprise when I received a personal message one sunny Thursday afternoon from an old friend. I was delighted. The world can indeed be impersonal and huge and lonely, yet the irony of social media is that it creates a falsely connected world. Even though we hadn't spoken in years, thanks to Facebook, in a weird, semi-creepy way, she knows what I ate for dinner last night. In her message, she was inquiring simply about nutrition. It could have thoroughly been answered in a written message, but to be quite honest, I missed her. She is thoughtful, grounded and authentic, so I took a chance and asked if she'd want to meet in person to talk about her nutrition questions and catch up.
We found ourselves a week later on the trails of Redwood Regional Park, making our way over tree branches peeking out from the dusty earth, winding our way deep into the forest canopy where the air gets cooler and the world seems quieter. There was a comfortable lull in the conversation, and then I heard her voice softly say- "I'm sorry that I wasn't there for you."
A lump developed in my throat. Her words hit home and struck me at my core. A wave of understanding flowed over me. I never once questioned the ebb and flow of friendships during the dark times in my life. To me, her path in life looked perfectly straight and narrow. My path, on the other hand, swerved sharply to the right, went directly off the cliff and headed straight into the water. Miraculously, we found ourselves together again. In life, we all try so hard to be good friends to each other, to be there for one another through thick and thin, but when sh*t happens, sometimes you just don't know what to say. We all have friends who suffer major losses, who get diagnosed with cancer, who miscarry, who go through heart-wrenching divorces. We all, at times, are at a loss for words, and we don't want to say the wrong things. So we end up saying nothing at all. And the distance grows ever so slightly, then progresses. Until one day, you look back, and you realize it's been a decade since you've last spoken to each other.
She's birthed two beautiful kids. I've had two broken engagements. And yet as different as our lives may appear on the outside, here we were, together again on the same trail- both inhaling the rich earth and bay laurel, admiring the sunlight peeking through the redwood trees, anticipating the uphill curve of the trail, putting one foot in front of the other. In a beautiful and miraculous way, our paths converged once again- a simple reminder of the timeless nature of how old friendships can separate and curve and come back together seamlessly. I saw our paths in life being more similar than different- two women, seeking to live a life of Purpose, to do good things in this world, wanting strong and healthy bodies, desiring to maintain balance between work, family and loved ones.
Just as old lovers are forever etched in our memories, some friendships are preserved there as well. And even a decade later, even though so much time has passed, we can open up to one another and find that tenderness and sweetness are still there- in fact, they were there all along.
The sun was setting as we parted ways that evening. As I waved from my Mazda3 with just enough room in the back to store a bike, she waved at me from her SUV with carseats in her backseats, and I felt a reunited connection with her that made me realize we were more alike than we were different.
I drove home down the windy streets, descending my way back into the city and thought about friendships. It's true- there are some friendships that are meant to be let go of, to be stored away in the boxes with the rest of the dusty prom pictures and binder paper love letters. But some are meant to be rekindled, revisited, reignited again.
It's really quite simple and beautiful when you allow yourself to reach out again. Perhaps it's time to contact that Facebook friend and reconnect face-to-face- the way you were when you considered yourselves to be 'real' friends. It will not disappoint you. In fact, it may be one of the most enriching experiences. We all go through changes and our paths separate. But despite our differences, there is true beauty and sacredness in the coming back together of it all.
And that's something that I definitely and wholeheartedly "like."