#BuckFifty – Day 19 – Friends

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Growing up, I never had any friends.  We moved around a lot until I was in high school, so I went to different schools, lived in different states, and any time I got to the point of making a friend, off we went.  I was too young to be at a pen-pal stage and in those ancient days before e-mail and instant communication, those tenuous ties of early friendship were gone with the Mayflower moving van.  I did have my one dear friend that I met when we were both babies, and we wrote letters here and there, and occasionally her family would visit, but it wasn’t the same as an every day BFF that everyone else seemed to have.

Consequently, when I got to high school and started to make some friends around the 9th grade, they were always precious to me.  I developed a close group during those years, though, sadly, we lost touch after we scattered to head off to college.  I have reconnected with a few on the Facebook, and that has been good.

In college, I made another group of friends, women who have loved and supported me and each other for nearly 45 years now.  They are my rocks, my stability and my inspirations.  I know there is nothing that happens to me that I can’t ask them for help, advice or even just a little humor to toss into the mix.  I can’t imagine my life without any of them.

And then there are the friends you make along the way.  Like J.  I first met J when she and her company were clients of mine in the executive recruiting business (aka “headhunters”).  We talked professionally on the phone and had a very good working relationship.  It developed to a point that I sent her my resume for a potential job at hers. In those days, you still put “hobbies” and things like that on your resume.  I put down that I liked Star Trek and wrote and edited fanzines.  A few days later, I got a call from J.  After we had the usual chat, she lowered her voice and nearly whispered into the phone, “Are you a STAR TREK fan?”  A friendship was born.  We agreed to meet for the first time to continue our out of work conversation.  We connected in the Five Points MARTA station in downtown Atlanta and I don’t even remember what we did, drinks or lunch or whatever, but the connection was made.  After that we met for lunch, often at The Magnolia Room in Rich’s Department Store (now defunct), then an Atlanta mainstay.  We talked about everything.  Sometimes, I brought my daughter along.

When I left my first, abusive husband, I literally had to leave under cover of darkness and take only a few things in my car.  A couple of months later, the papers were signed, my new ex had left the state to go back to Kentucky, where he was from, and I had agreed to let my daughter go with him for a couple of months, so that I could have a little breathing space.  Then, I had to tackle the task of having to pack up the house we were living in and move out.  I was moving in with my parents, so I had to either pack efficiently, give stuff away or leave it behind.

J offered to come help me pack.  A relatively small thing, but at that point in my life, it was huge.  I was paralyzed with all the emotion of having to go back into that house.  I knew I had done absolutely the right thing in getting away from an abuser, but still I felt like an utter failure.  I was up in the air about my job, my kid, my whole life.  J helped settle me down.  We spent a day wrapping things in newspaper, and putting them in boxes.  We talked about this and that–I have no recollection of what.  Somehow, with her help, I got through it, got everything out the house, got settled with my parents, and a few weeks later, got my daughter back home unscathed.  I am honestly not sure I would have been able to do that without her helping me for a few hours that day.

That’s what friendship is.  That’s what you do.  You just be there.  You don’t have to fix things, you don’t have to be Superwoman.  Just be present.

J and I are still friends, even though we haven’t seen each other in years.  We share things on Facebook, keep up that way, like so many people.  I hope in the next couple of years, I can travel back to Atlanta and we can meet again to reconnect in person.  I hope maybe one day I can talk her into visiting Denver.  But if not, again, she will always be my friend.

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