Once, I was planning a surprise party for a friend’s 29th birthday. We were hosting. All invitations had been sent. At the last minute, I was sent (without much “consent”) on a business trip. I agreed to go, but only if I could come back home for the party. (I believe I presented it as a “wedding,” which was not entirely untrue, since this friend was marrying herself to the idea of her thirties.) So, I flew up, I worked, I flew down, I partied, I flew up, I worked, and I came home looking quite unattractive because that is what 72 hours of airplanes and alcohol will do to a person. And I did not care.
This might be making me sound like Such a Great Friend, which is a) hopefully true and b) not the point. I was searching for pictures (of something else) and came across the photos from that party, and just got this pang of rightness. I want that kind of radical friendship to be par for the course. Shouldn’t we max ourselves out to get all up in the celebrations and daily lives of our people?
We have a couple of weddings coming up, and all the bachelorette parties and bridal showers and general craziness that come along with them. Here’s how I feel about weddings: when you get married, you’re turning in your card. It’s the friendship equivalent of “Get Out of Jail,” only it’s more “Get All Your Humans.” It’s the one time you get to tell everyone when, where and how fancy, and they have to show up and eat cake. (“Have to” being a strange usage here, because: cake.) Acceptable reasons for missing a wedding, in my opinion: childbirth (yours), communicable disease or death. (Honorable mention: a destination wedding you simply cannot afford to attend.) If two people actively want me to watch one of the most sacred moments of their lives, I think it’s only fair to move a lot of pieces around in mine to make that happen. When it was my turn, I got to see what that was like from the other end, and I can only say this: gratitude can become tangible enough that you can go inside it and sit down and wrap it around you like a blanket.
So, as we’re getting ready to move all these pieces to be there for all the wedding events, I’m thinking: shouldn’t this be how it always is? Every time I’ve pushed myself a little bit and agreed to an experience that was bond-forming but exhausting/expensive/overwhelming, it’s been worth it. Riding interminable busses to visit people in other cities. Planning Friendfest. Driving hours to see a new baby. I probably whined about being cold or tired at the time, or about having to forgo sushi for a while. (This is when you know I love you.) But then the experience is always a shot in the arm, an infusion of clarity. You make me smarter. You make my soul sit better. When we danced together, drenched in sweat and hard cider, I saw that live music makes you happily insane. When I held your tiny baby, I learned that your brand of exhaustion is graceful and funny. Every event was a line that we laid down. It made the net of our friendships stronger, and it made my existence feel more purposeful. I think we’re here for each other. I really do.
Sometimes you can’t make it happen, but often we just choose not to, because it’s a little too. And I think my new resolution (because January doesn’t own me, and I can start whenever I want) is to say yes to anything that feels like it’ll draw me closer to my people.
(Camping is still firmly off the table.)