There are two important lessons I’ve learned about friendship.

First, the gift of sharing someone’s time is sacred and should be valued as such. Appreciate it. Secondly, and just as important, don’t expect it. There will be occasions when friends can’t give you their time because they haven’t got it to spare. This is not a reflection of their affection. True friendship doesn’t have an expiry date, nor should it have a deadline.

A recently shared social media post bothered me. It read “people make time for the people they want to make time for,” implying we are never too busy for the people that matter to us. I would edit that statement to read: “People make time for the people they want to make time for just as soon as they can, and until they can, they continue to think positively about them and check in on them whenever they are able.” It’s not quite as poetic, but this statement is more accurate. And fair.

My friends are a small but loyal pack of amazing people who are actively pursuing their own complicated lives, doing the best they can to hold it all together in their own pursuit of happiness, while paying off their mortgages. And they all have grass that needs cutting on Saturday morning before the sun gets too hot.

“Busy” has become the new four-letter word. Life is busy. It’s true. Everyone has their own (another four-letter word) to deal with. Sometimes it’s a choice. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes busy is an excuse, a personal boundary, because we need time for ourselves too. Self-care is not selfish. Sanity is no joke. Decompression is mandatory. I won’t apologize for that. I cannot expect my friends to either.

This lesson came to me as they all do: the hard way.  Many times I mistook my friend’s hectic schedules personally. I am absolutely guilty of sulking when I felt like I gave more than I received in relationships. Silver lining: as a result, I learned resiliency. I needed to learn to fight my own battles and trust my instincts to make decisions. I know my real friends would back me up. They always do. These people are keepers. Now I hold on to them not so tightly. And I know that if things were dire, if there was a crisis, my friends would show up. I don’t take that for granted.

So when my dear friend, a single parent who works long shifts (and cuts her own grass) says my birthday present this year would be to grab the keys to her mom’s trailer and head out to Belwood to enjoy coffee on the patio so we could enjoy two hours of uninterrupted conversation away from everyone we knew,  I was in. You have never met anyone more easily amused by golf cart rides in a trailer park than this girl right here.

The best gift was her time, because I respect that it is limited. It was more meaningful to me than any present could be. Last minute plans are the best. Deep conversations. Golf cart giggles. Feeling 17 instead of, well, not 17. Spilling coffee and secrets with someone I trust to always be there to help clean up my messes, or cheer on how I cleaned them up myself, is true friendship.

You can’t put a time-stamp on a friend like that. Lucky me.

WriteOut of Her Mind