Full-time Friend

My friends have always been double-cast in my life. Often without their approval, and sometimes only at the behest of my need, I have made them both friend and family.

I didn’t get all I was craving from my homelife, so I looked for it elsewhere. When I found a friend, I gave her my heart. I shared intimacies and asked for disclosures, swore secrecy and pledged allegiance. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time, but I was building a fortress.

‘My friends…they can’t leave me’, I thought. ‘They are guaranteed to stick around.’

So I built an ark of sorts, and took them with me as I went…their homes becoming my ports.

I built a veritable friendship web. I made a mental map of where love could be provided me; and flew in and out of those places repeatedly. Last year, I told one of these friends that I needed a vacation. ‘Like, a REAL VACATION! One where you just sit on your ass and drink stuff and read and don’t plan activities and don’t try to accomplish ten thousand things…a vacation!’ Then I tried to figure out why I didn’t think I’d ever had a ‘real’ vacation and I realized it was because every single trip…every vacation day I have ever taken from work…they’ve all been purposed as friendship maintenance.

I got cradled by friendship early on. Laurel Wang’s mom and dad took me into their home in a big way. I played there endlessly and slept over a ton. They even provided me my ‘own’ bedroom. The bedroom was kind of a big deal, since I hadn’t ever had one. When I was very little, I shared a room — and a bed — with my two brothers. Then, until I hit 18 and simultaneously hit the road, I shared a room and a bed with my sister. But Carolyn and Stuart gave me a little taste of privacy, along with many tastes of scotcharoos…all because I was Laurel’s friend.

I now use another friend’s address as my own. Emily let me into the home she shares with her husband and children! — her family!! She let me, her friend, become a part of it all…

Lately, I’ve been wondering where my days go. I wake early enough but somehow barely make it to my dinner shift at work on time. I am accruing books by the piles, yet they are going unread. Bela’s getting walked, but even she wonders what I’m doing inside for a good chunk of the day.

When 9am turned into 1pm today, I stepped back and took a look at where the sweet hours had gone. Well…I talked to Lisa. A good chat, a solid chat. I emailed 17 times with Amber. I gchatted with Emily. I had a lunch phone date with Amy. I listened to voicemails from Hilary, Nisha and Meika that were left last night. Then I engaged in a string of text messages with the two gals I had just talked to. Just to really seal the deal on our conversations…throw out a few follow-up jokes, and generally relay how much we love each other.

I am constantly managing these friendships. Each time something in life makes me think of one of them, I immediately send a message or place a call. I have perfected the art of the overdone voicemail. I do my best to constantly honor the things they have grown in me.

This maintenance…the time and energy it requires, has been all worth it. My friends are such good friends that they actually let me be a bad friend. When Courtney calls and I answer simply to tell her I want to be a dick right now and feel sorry for myself and not talk and/or listen, she simply tells me to call her back when I’m done being a dick. And the beauty of that is, that when you have someone accept you so graciously, you usually sit back, think how wonderfully blessed you are to have friends of that magnitude, and dial back their number.

So – to you – all of you!, my friends: You have carried me. I hope that I have given your lives but one tenth of what you have given me. I also want you to know I may visit less in the coming years. I need real vacations. There’s so much shit I want to see! But I’ll continue to leave you all voicemails. Many. And every time I dance, I’ll do moves that I know Val and Martha would love, every time I order a café au lait, it’s because Kat likes them, and every SINGLE TIME I EAT, I’ll think of Georgianne.

I love all of you.

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