When I was in college, I remember a day when two of my friends gathered in my dorm room for a lazy day. The weather was bad. We were mentally worn from our various studies. Somehow we had managed to tune into a Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Die Fledermaus (The Bat). This was an unusual performance in that the libretto was sung in English and modernized so that the situation and comedy would appeal easily to a 20th century audience. It is the only opera that I have ever enjoyed.
But, I don’t think it was the opera at all. I suspect it was the friends. You see we were in our pajamas and bathrobes, sprawled out across the dorm beds, laughing our heads off at this comic performance. It was one of the most wonderful days I remember. Nothing fancy, just a radio that happened to catch an amazing and delightfully funny broadcast from the Met and three friends ready for a lazy day off from school and a good laugh. No booze. No fancy clothes. No makeup. No hours spent on hairstyles or worrying about how we looked or what others thought.
Those kinds of friends are the true treasures of life. They are few and far between, and you are lucky if you have one or two during your life time.
I am very lucky.
I have watched my nieces as they have gone to college, and I have seen them form the same kinds of friendships. I am watching my daughter, even at her young age of six, and I see the beginnings of what may grow into special friendships that she will cherish all her life.
Family is critical. I have my family to thank for my success as a person. They have loved me, pushed me, corrected me, held me and hugged me, and nothing can replace that. Certainly my daughter is surrounded by an immediate and extended family who will do the same for her.
But a true friend brings something else. They are there, often when family members are far away. They are in the same place, sharing the same experiences. They understand in a way family sometimes cannot. A true friend makes you a little better than you otherwise would be. A true friend helps you dust yourself off when you fall, then cheers even louder for you when you try again. A true friend is quick with a hug when you are in pain, and feels your pain with you. A true friend acts as a conscience to help you remember what is right.
Friendship, deep abiding friendship, is an amazing gift, not to be taken lightly. It is not something that comes with 1,000 invitations on Facebook or 10,000 twitter followers. It is personal. It comes face to face, hand in hand, step by step. It must be nurtured and fed by genuine care and real interaction.
It is the kind of thing that blossoms by time spent laughing in your pajamas in a dorm room on a stormy day or on a walk through a cherry-blossom-laden neighborhood in the spring or playing in the snow on a cold winter’s day.
If you are fortunate enough to have forged a special friendship, take a few minutes this week to stop and make a phone call, or make a visit or write, by hand, a letter. Feed the friendship a little, and you will be amazed at what will grow.
© 2013 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.