Sometimes you just need someone to listen, to witness whatever cloud is hovering over your head and help you clear it out. Not solve or fix, or repair. Just listen. Bear witness. Then allow you to return the favour. The strongest friendships are rooted in trust.
When I get to that place in my mind, or when I get a text from my friend that she needs a good healthy vent, I pour a hot coffee in my travel mug and walk the few blocks to my best friend’s home where, since the beginning of the pandemic, she has set up socially-distanced lawn chairs in the heart of her garden. We weed out the problems of the day in that sacred space. Just us two.
We have sat in those chairs on frigid days, when giant white snowflakes melted atop our warm thermal mugs. We’ve sat there with our raincoat hoods up, during a downpour, when the rain drops made a plunk sound hitting those same lids. Soaked to the skin, we carried on as if nothing was happening, rain falling off our noses, sometimes tears. Mothers in nature can handle Mother Nature.
We sat there on hot days too, in the spring sun, marvelling at garden blooms. And when we’d admitted our struggles, come to terms on our own terms, mocked the morons who challenge us and giggled at the irony of it all, I would hop back over the garden fence (it sounds graceful, but I assure you it was not) and head home refreshed, caffeinated, with a full heart. Nothing changed, but everything changed. Clouds shifted.
I hope you have a friend like this; someone who becomes more family than your actual family. A person who has seen you ugly cry and had the good sense to mock you before handing you a tissue. The person who threatens to rough up anyone who crosses you, and you know they aren’t kidding but you want to keep them out of jail so you assure them you’re okay, because it’s enough to know somebody would rough someone up for you if you need them to (and you consider putting them on retainer for future situations where somebody needs roughed up).
Friends are family to me, only better, because I get to choose them and if doesn’t work out, they go away (ever had a crappy relative go away? No, you haven’t. Those people hold on like blood suckers on a carp. Point made). Over time, I have collected a diverse group of equally awkward souls in different ages and stages of life who have become my small circle of trusted friends. I’m learning that is perfectly okay, healthy even. Quality over quantity. But that circle is never closed and that’s important too. I will always make room. The right ones, the true hearts, show up on time. Life is funny that way.
My dear-heart friend I’ve described here deserves to be reminded of how sacred our socially-distanced garden chair chats have been, because it’s a tradition I want to assure her we will continue through many more winters, rainstorms, hot days and the ridiculous scenarios we will surely land in. The chairs will move closer, but the laughter will spread farther. Sacred space, indeed.
Life will bring us our share of storms, so hold on to those who sit beside you through it all and know the value of enjoying the view.