Friday, January 20, 2012

Deja Vu? AKA...when new friends feel like old friends

Old can be good. Old furniture can bring character and warmth to a room. Old wine or old scotch can be silky smooth going down.  Old age can bring wisdom. And, old friends bring us a sense of security, history and stability.  But let’s not knock what’s new.  Nothing beats a new car. New shoes can perk anyone up and mini-me loves to dance around in new panties (I mean, really – who doesn’t??)  And as I’ve discovered, new friends can bring a whole new perspective, open our eyes a little wider and fill our lives in amazing new ways.

Me, Legs and Lips. You  just can't see the drinks.
Lips and Legs are my mom posse. They keep me sane in the neighborhood (thank God, because you know I live next to this.) They help me channel my inner trailer trash over wine, crooked Arnold Palmers, Triscuits, fruit roll-ups and goldfish.  We whine, wine, bitch and laugh with regularity.  Legs and I met last year when our mini-me’s were in the same class. Lips moved down the street last year but as herder mom to two boys, we didn’t connect right away. Legs introduced us and our connection was swift.  Our friendship was like finding the perfect jeans (if those actually existed) - they fit perfectly, they feel great and make us feel better. it felt like we'd always been friends.  Our kids wander in and out of any of our homes with nary a knock. They know where the snacks and drinks are stored, they are comfortable and happy (at least we assume they are since they yell, scream, chase, etc as they would in their own abode.)  They know that despite differences in age and gender – a friend is just down the street.  More importantly, Lips and Legs are my friends.  We don’t have to schedule or plan. We are just there.  Over the holidays, mini-me made a comment that I knew was coming but still sent me into a tailspin. I immediately reached out to my Big Susan’s and their comforting words over the phone line did help. But late one night, when I was overwhelmed, Lips wandered down in her pajamas and robe so big and fluffy it scared my dog.  She was equally tired and stressed but the fact that she took that time to come and listen reminded me that some new friends quickly become the old friends we’ll still be talking to for years to come.  She knew I needed to talk. The red velvet cake may have made her walk a wee bit faster. 

Legs and I both have mini-me’s that test our patience and make us laugh.  They are both wise beyond their years and still firmly planted in the age of innocence.  The fact that they go to school together, play together outside of school daily, share clothes, interests and other friends means that Legs and I are also comrades in arms.  Muddling through the girly-girl thing, sharing fears and hopes.  One more than one occasion, we’ve talked through concerns about raising girls in this crazy world – what is allowed, what isn’t, what scares us and what we plan to do.  It helps that we often do this over wine and cheese. But it really helps to know I'm not alone with those crazy thoughts.
Other new-ish friends have quickly become old and I mean that in the best sense of the word.  Last weekend, Pixie, Stretch and a few others from a relatively delinquent moms group came over for drinks and to wish Stretch a happy birthday.  Many drinks and laughs later, my rough week was gone along with the Sweet Tea vodka and all was right in the world.  I can’t imagine not having the preschool posse in my life – we Yom Kippur, sometimes Passover, and often New Year together and though we don’t see each other as often, I think of them all the time and wish we saw one another more.

I’m always grateful for my friends – my old friends have seen me through both good and bad.  They know my history, know my family, know my stories, have likely put up with a fair amount of my crap and are still my friends (really, there needs to be an award for this.)  They provide a foundation that steadies me in the storm.

But, I’m also grateful for my new friends.  They’ve reminded me to keep my eyes open because if I hadn’t – they wouldn’t be in my life.  New friends teach you that you're never too old - you can teach an old dog new tricks.  But mostly, they remind me that new is only for a moment and friend lasts a whole lot longer. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

You get what you deserve

I’m having a crisis of faith. Not just religiously speaking (goodness knows, that's happening, too) but in my overall belief in people.  People are mean. They are mean and selfish and arrogant. I know people (not in the urban legend sense but real people) who - on a regular basis - have treated others with something significantly less than respect or kindness, who knowingly sacrifice the feelings/reputation of others in order to get what they want and still others who call themselves friend but only if you agree with exactly what they believe.  Each one is successful, outwardly happy, materially fulfilled.  There is a saying that people get what they deserve.  Do these people get what they deserve? I suppose so – if they deserve the prize, promotions, a raise or sympathy when they make themselves the victim.  And really, I know life isn’t fair but I’m so dismayed at the way people treat one another that I’ve begun to lose faith.

Luckily, I have friends who are quick to remind me that there is decency and goodness. I know I’ve talked a lot about how great my friends are – how funny, generous, kind, etc.  And don’t get me wrong – they are all those things. But, aside from being my friends (which makes them pretty f-ing fabulous), these are some pretty cool people who have a tremendous impact on those around them.  Disclaimer:  this is not to say that my friends and I are not sometimes looked at as a-holes – see exhibit A – no one is immune from the occasional jackassery – but we do try not to make it a lifestyle.

Exhibit A:  Amazing acts of generosity between friends
My mom friends Stretch and Pixie are very close - the bond between these two women is deep.  I am not part of their inner circle and can’t really speak to what goes on between them – the nuances that make it work, how important it is or the things that annoy them about one another. They have gone beyond a shoulder, a glass of wine and a playdate – though all of those things have likely played a role in the deepening of their ties.

These are smart women, dedicated mothers and wives, friends to many. They are funny with a heavy dose of snark that I greatly appreciate. They are great fun to be around and I love that they grab any opportunity to throw back a drink or three and have a good time.  There is much to admire and like about each one individually.  But, to say they have held each other up during tough times would be an understatement. To describe their relationship as supportive is simply not enough.  To be a friend during a crisis – health, familial, etc – to help a friend and her family weather the storm and offer shelter or solution is an amazing gift.  It seems to come so naturally to them. “Of course” would be answer if they were asked – but I’m guessing they just offered and did what they felt was needed.  What was right.  They are more than friend to one another – they have become family. Figuratively and literally.  They remind me that friends are the family we choose and that I have chosen well. 

Exhibit B: Courage in the face of crisis
My friend Tinkerbell (so named because she is tiny, fast moving and just makes you smile) faced a life crisis that can only be described as devastating.  I admired the many friends that rallied around her and her family – supporting for them, praying for them and offering to do whatever was needed during this trying time.  Truly the faces of kindness during dark times.  But what is truly admirable, what really gets to me is Tinkerbell’s amazing outlook. I’m sure she has/had dark times during which tears were shed and fists clenched towards God. But her positive outlook is nothing short of inspirational. Her continued dedication to paying it forward – with her kind words, relentless push towards giving more and doing more and simply being a better person - reminds me that we each choose how to deal and react to any given situation and that we can turn something dark and scary and negative into something shiny and positive.

Exhibit C: Grace under pressure is contagious
My hip work friend, Mary Richards, really shows – on a daily basis – what it means to be professional.  Despite her own frustrations, challenges or difficulties, she makes a point to maintain a positive outlook, offering help and a shoulder to others. Every.Single.Day.  Her grace and humor (and amazing ability to bite her tongue) make her highly regarded by all. I aspire to be more like this and fall short on a regular basis.

So right when I’ve lost faith, I remind myself to look around at my friends.  They are good and kind and generous. They remind me that the human condition is not one of despair but one of optimism and decency.  I don’t want to get too Pollyanna-ish about this because my friends appreciate my inner bitch as much as I appreciate theirs but right now, I’m so grateful for each of them for reminding me that maybe we do get what we put out there.  Maybe all my amazing and wonderful friends are in my life for a reason. Maybe I’ve gotten just what I deserve. Lucky me.