How To Be My Friend

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A few years ago, I realized a really important value for me was to be a good friend to people.  I also realized that there are several people I refer to as my “best friend” and I’ve decided that’s okay — and I can do what I want.  Like having two maids of honor in my wedding, because, well, it was my (our) wedding and you don’t spend all your parents savings account in one day to not be able to call your own shots for six hours.

I’ve learned that I have several “best friends” and that each one serves different purposes throughout different seasons of my life and it’s wishful thinking to expect that each “best friend” will serve the same purpose over the course of a 30, 40, or 50 year friendship.  I enjoy that I have my life long best friend who has been there since we were six years old and shows up to my family functions, and I have the college best friend that can complete my sentences and shares a similar sense of humor, and I have the other college best friend whose life, family structure, and opinions always seem to be in lock step.

So last night I went to our regularly scheduled pedicure and dinner date with one of those best friends, Angela, and I left there bee-bopping home with mascara on my face from laughing so hard I cried.  I may have even cried for real a bit somewhere in there too.  Angela is the type of friend that in one sitting we can cover fashion (we showed up in the same outfit last night), career, passions, fears, social injustice, politics, family secrets, travel wish lists. . . all while splitting a piece of carrot cake.  And if you’ve read my book and got to the “Only Child Syndrome” chapter, you know the likelihood of me actually voluntarily splitting any sort of dish with someone (Angela as well) is super slim.  If I put my fork in the same dessert you’re putting your fork in, our friendship will last this lifetime and into Heaven.

As I went to bed last night, I was reflecting on why it is that when I spend time with Angela I leave feeling so full — of life, inspiration, and carbs.

Here’s what I’ve determined (and if you want to be my friend, this is what is important to me and what I promise to give back to you). . .

Listen to me:  I don’t mean you ask my advice and I give it to you and then you do what I say.  I mean, when I tell you a story (and let’s be honest, my stories involve a lot of words sometimes), give me eye contact and listen whole heartedly.  Angela and I have been friends for 17 years (<<sighs and refreshes eye cream>>) and not one of those days in 17 years has she chosen looking at her phone over listening to me.  Matter of fact, you could spend five hours with her and not even know she has an iPhone.  She listens so well and has more to give than “oh yeah, uh oh, okay.”

Learn my family:  The most important people on this earth to me are my family and I’m going to reference them often.  Not just my husband, mom, and dad, but I’m going to reference an aunt or an uncle or a cousin or a step sibling and I appreciate on the deepest level when you learn their names, remember the nuances of previous stories, and you keep up with it all.  Angela calls my parents by name when she references them in conversation and she knows the inner-workings of how a step-family goes and she shows up to those conversations ready to hear about my sister’s graduation and my in-laws new home and my nieces exaggerated stories of how she saw a mermaid last time she was at the beach.

Do the dance:  Angela isn’t the only friend that I can do this with and for that I’m thankful, but there’s an art and dance that goes with conversation.  We bounce from topic to topic in this flawless way that literally every dinner has this tearful moment that turns into words that aren’t in the Bible, and then lift back up to an embarrassing moment you only share with your besties.  We do that dance, and it last for hours, and no topic is left uncovered.

Set dates and remember them and keep them and show up:  I can email or text Angela asking for when she’s free, we land on a date, we keep it on the calendar and neither of us forget, and then we show up and actually hang out in real life.

Keep my secrets:  If I share what’s bothering me or causing me boredom or grief or annoyance or just whatever, let me share it with so much freedom that you’re not going to go tell one of your other “best friends.”

Ask me questions and cheer me on:  The best part about last night was towards the end of the conversation Angela asked me what chapter ideas I had in mind for my second book, right after I shared my sorrows of needing to just sit down with my laptop and start writing and my weird in between time of figuring out how motivated I was.  She let me run down every single idea I had and gave me input and encouraged me on the ones that sounded interesting.  I actually left there feeling a little boost of motivation.

Don’t put on a show for me:  I am 100% comfortable showing up to Angela’s with no make-up on or sweat pants or shoes that don’t match my outfit but they’re just comfortable.  I don’t even apologize for it.  She feels the same.  We don’t put on a show for each other in that way.  There’s no pressure to put on our best with some sort of underlying competition.

Now, go call your best friend (on the real phone and listen to their voice), and make plans to split a carrot cake and fill yourself up in all the ways a carrot cake and a bestie can leave you full.