As with many people it took me many years to realize that friendship is best measured by quality rather than quantity. I spent my high school days pursuing the popularity dream that forms the basis for so many "coming of age" movies and for the most part, it worked. However, it was years later I realized that being on a royalty court was a really meaningless measure of success. I haven't even kept in contact with all those "friends" from high school, nor they with me. Part of it is that teens are completely self absorbed and can't see past the weekend schedule of events. The other part is the wisdom that comes with experience.
At nearly 38 I have been blessed with several enduring friendships of the sort that can whether any storm or geographical separation. My longest friendship goes back to sophomore year of college. Blythe and I lived on the same floor for two years and became fast friends. I was her RA and she took over the floor when I left to get married. We went to graduate school together and spent nearly every Saturday morning having coffee at the Runcible Spoon. She now lives in Russia as a missionary with her husband and kids; I've seen her one time since her wedding ten years ago. Obviously we don't get to spend a lot of time together but we read each other's blogs and pray for each other. That is a friendship worth keeping.
I have another special friendship, not as nearly as old but just as important. Selma moved to Iceland six months after I arrived and we met on a women's retreat. She is my card carrying International Woman of Mystery friend. We generally live on opposite side of the country but she is the one I call when I can't take any more that life has to throw. I can, and have, called her and said, "I have to get away now." Her immediate response is always, "Where are we going?" We've traveled Iceland, Germany, England, France, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas together and are desperately trying to get to Scotland. We like the same books, drinks, and have the same travel philosophy. Everyone needs a friend you can watch six hours of French TV with, not understand a word, and still laugh yourself into exhaustion.
In the infinite wisdom reserved only for the Lord, He gave me my Gleneagle Girls long before I knew I needed them. These are the girls in my 'hood in Washington and they are fierce friends, not just to me but to each other. They were with me pre-PTSD husband and they held me post-PTSD husband. Tani is my constant, and best, running companion, even when I lived far away and she was going through the trauma of a husband leaving and an eventual fairy tale remarriage. She keeps me grounded and lets me know it's not always about me. Tana forced herself on me as travel companion when she knew I was preparing to drive two hours to see my husband in the mental hospital for the first time. She didn't want me going alone and wouldn't take no for an answer. It was exactly what I needed! Kellianna is the gorgeous, exotic Staten Island transplant who talks tough but has a heart bigger than even she knows. She is my utter opposite but has provided tea, sympathy and wisdom on many occasions. I got to sit with Angie and her husband at church, Sunday after Sunday, when my own was out at sea. She is always up for a Jane Austen party! And Viola is my inspiration; she beat breast cancer with her own brand of Courage and Grace and I want to be her when I finally grow up. Heidi is a competitor, a prayer warrior and has a work ethic like no other, Elizabeth has quietly shown me the power of a Godly woman, Jennifer is an artist with a gift for capturing that which mere mortals never see, Sue is a grandmother who taught me time and time again to be glad we don't know what the future holds, and Kraski is my PTA mentor and fellow racer. Then there is Katie. Katie is the friend I didn't get to know so well when I lived there but always has an encouraging email or blog comment for me. She is faithfully waiting for me to write a book.
You must understand, in a group this large and varied, not everyone is "best friends." We are close, we do things with and for each other and some friendships are closer than others. When someone gets divorced or their husband is in Afghanistan for a year, they come home and their lawn is mowed. When someone's husband finds out he is getting medically retired and she sends an hysterical email, they pool together their frequent flier miles and extra cash to fly her "home". When cancer strikes, prayer meetings get formed, children get cared for and meals get arranged. When I write a vitriolic blog about the inadequacies of certain US Governmental agencies, Katie calls up Tani in indignation and starts a temperance movement.
Since last night Katie and Tani (next door neighbors, by the way) have sent my Bill O'Reilly letter to three local Washington news channels plus the Today Show, CBS and the New York Times Op-Ed department. Which, in turn, got me fired up to send an updated version of the letter to my Oregon representatives, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and his Executive Producer, Stu, and to Mr. and Mrs. Obama at the White House. When these ladies get a bee in their bonnet, look OUT! They are doing whatever they can to expose the treatment of our nation's veterans.
Will any of it work? Maybe so and maybe no. That isn't what matters. What matters is that I have a group of friends literally around the world that I am blessed to call friends. It's not a huge number and there are a few ladies I didn't list because the blog would get even longer. You know who you are. Thank you for fighting for me when I don't know how, thank you for holding me up when I can no longer stand, thank you for faithful prayers (Mom and your Girls, Emily, Tracy) when I have no more of my own. And Katie, yikes! I'm so glad you are on my side!
I Love You All!