Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Friends in low places

What qualities do you look for in a friend? What do you expect from someone who is a close friend? Or a best friend? Mutual respect, trust, comraderie, understanding, active listening and shared interests are qualities i enjoy in a friend. Between human imperfection and expectations, it is amazing when you find someone who can be a true friend, especially when times are tough, and when you can also hold up your end of the bargain.

When i was little, i was so envious of my younger sister; no matter where we were, she could make friends so easily. I was always so shy, too embarrassed or hesitant to ever initiate new friendships. As i got older, i emerged from my cocoon as a social butterfly of sorts. Beginning in high school and through all my higher ed years, i have made lots me friends and contacts of various varieties. I still keep in touch with many of them, no matter when or where i met these friends. However, i have noticed since joining the peace corps, i have again become shy.

Perhaps being a foreigner, a stranger in a strange land, or experiencing one of those nearing age thirty crisis moments, i can only speculate. For a while, i relished meeting new people, secure in myself and was not bothered much by all the social interaction. I enjoyed my new freedom and isolation, and did not really worry or miss people from "back home," save my best friend. We communicated regularly via email and weekly by telephone. He was the first to hear good news, and the first to talk me through and listen about the hard times. In some ways, it was funny because neither of us expected to have that kind of a connection while i was here, but we both enjoyed the journey. Our relationship shifted and we did our best to understand and cherish the process and each other, especially given the circumstances.

Recently, our friendship was put in jeopardy. I don't think it is fair to assign blame, but sometimes, very unexpected things happen. I feared that these changes would mean the dissolution of our friendship. I stopped communicating because i didn't know how to say things i needed to say. I do not like to hurt people, least of all my friends. Eventually, we found a way to talk and listen, to hurt and to laugh, because that is better than crying, and realize that we truly are great friends.

I am so grateful for good friends, for people who have the courage to share very intimate parts me themselves with me, and to appreciate me, for better and for worse. Here's to you, one of my best friends.