Safe Harbor

Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words. – George Eliot

How does a friendship start? Do you remember meeting the people who are now your closest friends? I almost always do, because those people play such a vital role in my life.

I met my oldest friend on the school playground, in third grade. She approached me because her mother had advised her to “look for someone who’s alone” to make new friends. I was indeed alone- very alone, in fact, since I’d just moved cross-country, didn’t know a soul, and was facing long, solitary days ahead. We’ve lived thousands of miles apart for many more years than we were ever close together, but even when I’ve been lonely, this lifelong friendship has meant I’ve never been alone. (Undying thanks for that super-timely advice, friend’s mom.)

I connected with another friend due to her son’s thoughtful act; he spoke to my son, a stranger, at the park (Is there a playground theme happening here?), providing words of encouragement that made him feel better in a moment of sadness. When my son told me what had happened, I had to express my appreciation for his kindness- and that conversation served as the beginning of one of my most precious friendships.

I could go on- I find there’s something memorable about how all my close friendships began. (Sometimes, it’s not the first meeting, but a moment when a casual acquaintance clicked over into true friendship.)

What sets these two particular friendships apart is that I have the benefit of being able to actually look at a history of communications with both of them, and it’s very telling.

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Meant to Mentor

“People are like chains, the closer they are, the stronger they become.”  – Federico Chini, The Sea Of Forgotten Memories

It’s hard to believe, but I realized this week that I’ve now known one of my dearest friends for a full decade. We met in an entirely different stage of life- ten years ago, we were both homeschooling our children, and we got together frequently on their behalf. (If you choose to homeschool young children, the bylaws do require this, because the number one, wide-eyed query you must always be prepared to answer is “But how will you socialize the children?”)

It’s a little bittersweet, but I find that I’m really enjoying the fact that we’ve now moved into a phase that allows us to connect just for us. Oh, sure, sometimes we’ll invite the kids along to hang out if they’d like, but many (most) times now, we don’t. They’re high school and college age, and they can do that for themselves.

Last week, during one of these visits, we were talking about the concept of mentoring, and I mentioned I’d done some reading on the topic and recalled some imagery about holding hands across generations. “The premise”, I assured her, “was really neat. Something about having two hands, one to reach forward to the generations ahead of you, and one to reach back to those coming behind. I’ll find the quote and send it to you.”

Well, I’m a liar. I’ve now been scouring the internet for a week, looking for mention of this concept… and can find no trace of it. I’ve discovered suggestions of the idea in a few different places, but I am beginning to suspect that I’ve absorbed several things and then created a mashup of the concepts in my own head. It does sound like something I’d do.

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