23 January 2008

A friend in need...

Today as I was walking toward M. Rohr's for some leisurely coffee and reading (current book: The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary) I ran into my college friend Megan, who I haven't seen in a while. Megan is one of the sweetest people ever, and when I graduated from college she wrote me a letter (on a sheet of notebook paper, in her tiny handwriting) telling me how much my friendship had meant to her. I never expect people to thank me for being friendly or welcoming; that's just who I am. But that appreciation, presented in a form that I could read when I was feeling my worst, is something for which I am immensely grateful. So we sat in M. Rohr's, with its century-old coffee sacks and mismatched cushy chairs, and caught up over lattes.Megan and I have a lot in common in terms of how we live our lives. We both devour books and would rather be reading. We are both pursuing "do-gooder" professions-- social work for Megan, teaching (hopefully) for me. We're both 80-year-old women trapped in 20-something bodies. And we have similar ideals about friendship and relationships. So of course our conversation lasted hours and covered a crazy wide range of topics.
The most interesting topic that we covered was friendship, specifically individual characteristics that we cherish in our friends. I never realized how different my friends are. How did this topic come about? Well, Megan is in the process of planning her sister's wedding and was discussing the process of selecting bridesmaids. So naturally, we started talking about who we would want as bridesmaids in our weddings (waaaaaaay off in the future), and the conversation evolved from there.
I was never one to have a single group of friends-- I was more about having 8 different groups of friends, since I am a mad mass of contradictions and need people who flatter all the different sides of me. I have those who share my quirky side-- for instance, my friend Sara came up with the idea to do a cake tour of New York when I first moved here. We each bought a slice and then rotated. It was glorious-- although the red velvet cake was disappointingly dry.
But there are also the friends who will allow me to go on and on about the Jack the Ripper documentary I saw tonight...and those who come to the rescue with gatorade and saltines after a rough night...or those who stand and cheer while I metaphorically flush a heinous ex-boyfriend down the toilet...or those with whom words aren't necessary...or those who help me clean foul-smelling vileness out of my dead refrigerator...or those who can make a crazy night out a blast, even though I hate the bar scene...or those who know that the best thing they can say when I'm upset is "I'm here for you, unconditionally." And I strive to do all of the above in return.

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