September 12, 2010

In Praise of Friends

Recently I was talking to a friend who seems to have an inordinate amount of people in his life who are very self-focused.  Let's face it, we all tend to be to some extent, but some people definitely swing more towards self than others.  Think fast and I know you can come up with at least one person in your life who has this tendency.  I know I do. Hopefully I'm not that person, but there's always that possibility.

These are the people who, if you asked them, couldn't name five things about you, even though they've known you for years.  Ask them.  Just five things.  Tell me if I have siblings, and if they are male or female.  Do you know if I've ever been married, and if so how long?  Name two cities I've lived in, not counting the one in which you met me.  What do I do for a living?  Where do I work?  What do I do in my spare time, besides write this blog?  Name my favorite drink.  Do I like animals and do I have a pet?  What is my biggest fear?  What is my biggest accomplishment?  Tell me one thing you like about me, besides the fact that I will listen to you spill your tales of woe for hours on end.  There are people I've known for years who would tell you we're good friends, but can't answer even two of those questions about me.  Sad, but true.

Then there are the people who are so in tune with me, they know me better than I know myself.  For instance, a friend who, when my mom stated I didn't like vegetables, corrected her by clarifying that I don't like most cooked vegetables but instead like them raw.  I didn't actually realize that about myself until she stated it.  Just a small fact, but something very personal that was noticed and noted.  Fortunately, I have more people in my life like this, than those who are self-focused. 

I have friends who remember other odd facts as well.  Like the friend 2,000 miles away who remembers I have a 3-4 hour meeting every Thursday morning that is usually the low point of my work week.  The friend who knows I like getting a surprise limeade in the middle of the day for no reason at all, just because it's my favorite drink.  The person who remembers I like all tomato products, but not actual raw tomatoes (the one exception to the raw veggies thing).  The friend who knows my favorite type of place to relax and unwind.  Or the one who knows I abhor all Nicholas Sparks books and movies.  These are the friends I hold near and dear, no matter how many miles or hours separate us.

I like to think I lean more toward being a thoughtful friend rather than a selfish, and have an amazing amount of "friend knowledge" stored in my brain.

Person A has lived and traveled many places in the world, hates seafood, is a sci-fi geek, can tell you who composed almost every soundtrack for every movie, loves cats, can be tender and caring, arranges DVDs by category and alphabetically, is a fabulous freak for grammar and pronunciation, is coolly creative, enjoys reading, and can make awesome pop culture references (there's much more, but I'll stop there).

Person B collects Barbies, loves cats, reads more than me, likes to drink a huge glass of iced tea every day, changes her mind at the drop of a dime, is an awesome gift giver, has a tender soul, wanted to be a nurse at one point, and is from Kentucky (again, there is so much more). 

Person C loves to shop for antiques, can be brilliantly snarky, dresses her dog in costumes for halloween, takes life in stride, is colorblind, dares to try new design ideas in her home on her own, and has a great story about how she met her husband (you know by now...there's so much more).

Person D listens to Jimmy Buffett and borders on being a Parrothead, enjoys disc golf and played in Japan, is a OU fan much to my dismay, would give you the shirt off his back, is an artist, can be sweetly sensitive, and is willing to make a fool of himself on the dance floor with me (yep, there's more).

I could go on and on about more people.

I love all my friends, both old and new.  I like learning about them and building a relationship that will stand the tests of time and distance.  My mom once sent me a quick little e-mail about how blessed I am to have so many good friendships that have lasted.  She's right.  I may not speak to everyone every day and I may not e-mail as often as I should, but I've developed connections with some very amazing and wonderful people.  Let me just take this moment to let those of you who are among my friends and read this blog know...

I love you all dearly, and would not be the person I am today had I not known you and let myself be known by you. 

Before you begin to worry about me, rest easy dear ones.  I'm just taking a moment to do what we rarely do in life, publicly appreciate those who are important to me, and my hope is that you will take a moment to do the same with those in your life as well.