Tuesday, April 24, 2007

On Friends

I've often wished I could title all my posts the way Joan Didion titled so many of her essays. How simple a title like "On Keeping a Notebook" appears, yet how deep and meaningful it is. My posts however often lack depth and distinction as Didion's essays never did, but this particular post requires no further title than a simple Didion-esque one.

This past weekend I was in Boise with my best friend (also known as my younger brother) and a high school friend of mine. Of my high school friends I remain in touch with only a handful or so and of those I can't say that many of them knew me all that well in high school to begin with. With time this particular friend of mine and I have grown together, though we are separated by the miles between the University of Idaho and Idaho State, and we have grown to appreciate our unique perspectives as we face the challenges and questions that young adults often do. It is interesting to me how close she and I are now, four years removed from high school, and how much we've both grown up in four years. We are now more understanding than ever of each others flaws, though I'm convinced she has none, and we are ever more aware of each others weaknesses.

Perhaps what I was reminded of most this past weekend is how forgiving we are of one another. I can make enormous mistakes, believe me I have and continue to, but she forgives me every time and is a mere phone call or email away always.

My plan for the trip to Boise originally included a stop at the high school where I graduated. I was hoping to stop in and visit with a few friends, but due to a very unfortunate tragedy in one of their lives, I was unable to stop and missed the opportunity to be reminded of how much I've grown since those days in the halls of Declo High School. If you would have told be six years ago that some of my closest friends and the people who care for my success the most would be a handful of teachers and friends from that school I never would have believed it. Even though I was unable to stop to visit, just the thought was reminder enough of how truly blessed I am in my life to have people who truly care for me and want nothing more than my success.

The other reminder handed to me was that of how loving my younger brother is. There is a line from one of my all-time favorite songs that goes something like this: "Can you imagine...your best friend always sticking up for you even when I know you're wrong?" He is that best friend for me. And perhaps in the back of my mind always looms the reminder that he is looking up to me and I should behave accordingly. It is almost as if he is always saying to me that he'll forgive me, but please don't let it come to that. Oh, how forgiving he is. The only major fight he can remember us having as kids (we are seven years apart in age) is one in which I hit him with a licorice rope. I don't remember this at all and can remember many, many other fights that were more or less my fault for not appreciating his youth and sense of humor. He remembers the licorice rope incident only because he hates licorice and it was hilarious. Have we never had a major fight? Probably not. Does he always forgive me? Yes. In my many mistakes and moments of short-tempered actions, he always forgives me. And regardless of his mistakes as many as there can be in the horrible period of the teenage years, I always forgive him. I always will.

My younger brother will always be my best friend. Or I suppose he will always be my best friend until he and I marry and our respective spouses become our best friends. But in my heart he will always resemble what a best friend should be.

The people I look up to in my life are people I know will make mistakes, but will do so hesitantly or quite by accident because they know I am looking up to them. My younger brother looks to me to set an example, to pave the way, and I don't take that lightly. I suppose our responsibilities as friends is to do exactly that--not take anything lightly. Friendship is the most sacred bond, friendship among siblings even more so, and though the trust of friends and that bond may take years to build and solidify, it takes mere seconds to break down. Taking friendship lightly will ensure its corrosion.

Spending a weekend in Boise with these two wonderful people really opened my eyes to the blessings and true friendships in my life. I was pleased to walk my young, non-political brother through the state capitol, show my high school friend a sample of my work on the Stallings Collection, and more than anything allow them the opportunity to spend time together. More important to me than my relationship with each of them is knowing that they like each other as well. There is no greater feeling than that of knowing the two people you truly believe in, care about, and trust, like each other as well.

Isn't it amazing how people come into our lives at the time in which we either need them personally or need something they offer as a reminder, a reminder of what we must do or what we have done or overcome in our lives? I've learned that those people aren't necessarily going to be in our lives forever, but their impact will be.

I was wise enough to stay in touch with this particular friend from high school, though hesitant at first. I continue to be stubborn enough to not allow distance and obstacles to prevent my brother and I from having a close friendship. And for the friends that I can't see on a regular basis, I hope I continue to be mindful enough to send them postcards now and then.

Have you thought about the meaningful friendships in your life lately? What are you doing to ensure they remain?

My apologies to Ms. Didion for not doing "On Keeping a Notebook" justice despite my profound respect for her talents, "but that is, as they say, another story."


Jessica said...

I've been very lucky because I have had, and have, wonderful friends in my life.

With each new friendship gained and each friendship that is lost, I try to learn the lessons that are needed for me to learn.

I have had a history of destroying friendships. Though so much of it feels out of my control and grasp, I realize that I am far too reactionary and impulsive. I also lack a sensitivity that at most times is so strong inside of myself that my bleeding heart can't stand it any longer.

So yes, I think about my meaningful friendships daily, sometimes that is the most dominant thought in my mind.

What am I doing to ensure they remain? Anything and everything I can think of. I try to be grateful for what the friendship offers and not try to extract more than the person can give. I try to trust the person to be who they are and not who I want them to be. And I try to remember that ignoring the other person's feelings and focusing on my own is dangerous and destructive. I also fight for my friends/friendships, even when all seems lost and only a distant glimmer of hope exists. One of my favorite movie quotes (from The Last Kiss) is, "you can't fail if you don't give up." So never give up on a friendship.

I've learned more than I ever thought possible about frienship over the last few months and I am very grateful for those who played a part in these lessons and I hope I am a better friend because of it.

Robert said...

Great that you have some trusted friends with whom you have kept in touch. Distance cannot kill a strong friendeship. An occasional phone call or email keeps friends together for years.Just like your bro, my younger sis happens to be my best friend and critic.

Julie in Boise said...


Did your brother like downtown Boise?

Did you guys make it to Pie Hole, aka "the pizzeria your parents warned you about"?


Tara A. Rowe said...

Julie, he had a wonderful time. Thank you for all the suggestions! We spent a great deal of time looking at cars--you know those that you wouldn't typically find in Declo, Idaho...No Pie Hole, come to find out my fourteen year old brother hates pizza. Can you believe that? A fourteen year old who hates pizza, that's got to be unAmerican or something!!