Sunday, August 8, 2010

Necessity of Friendship


Last Sunday was a dear friend's birthday. Usually we take our spinster-friend out to a tea house for high tea. Before you think I'm being mean calling her a "spinster," here is a plug for her blog: www.spinsterbeth.blogspot.com You'll see her spinning wheel in one of the photos.

So, we're going to tea... We've considered wearing hats, but I don't usually have one to wear. I need something huge and gaudy and outrageous I think. Most years, we have three for tea - but one of our numbers is out of town until September, so this year we'll have

tea for two...
and two for tea...

(anyone know this song? Or am I just the Queen of Old Songs? Well, it is a song about two lovers, which she and I are decidedly NOT so I can only use that part of the lyrics for this post.)

This same wonderful friend has been a Godsend when Jeff has been out of town on business trips - she has come over when the kids were driving me crazy, she has come over just to sit and play Othello or checkers, and she and a few other friends come over nearly every Saturday evening for dinner, fellowship, and games. Our Saturday night group is a mixed bag - military, civilian, veteran, knitters, woodworkers, married, single, with and without children and somehow we all manage to find enough points of similarity to form a sort-of extended family in it all. The kids ask about each other through the week; the adults keep in touch via Facebook and e-mail, planning meals, deciding who will bring what this week, etc. Two ladies knit, I crochet, but don't have the same... shall we say... obsession for yarn-craft that they do.

A neighbor comes by every so often to have tea and an afternoon chat. Our children play together constantly and we feel at ease in making sure they behave, whether talking to our own children or those of the other. She and her family have come by for dinner once or twice, and have joined us at neighborhood gatherings and "happy hour" at another neighbor's down the street.

Another group I gather with has four to five women, including myself. In that group, we have a military retiree, two military veterans and one who is still active duty. We all met through work. I know only that one is heavy into scrapbooking, two love baseball, and we all have a pretty rowdy party when we go out.

In each of these groups, there may be only one or two places of similar interest or background or life experience - but I feel safe in these groups. I find the camaraderie with them that I joined the Navy to find fourteen years ago. Whether an all-women group, or mixed, we share news of our days, plans for the future and troubles. In return, we offer jests and good-naured ribbing, we offer laughter, we offer advice - and sometimes, in kindness and love and respect for one another, we offer rebuke, knowing that the friendships will hold strong.

I have talked to several people recently who are looking for those connections - people who have them, and don't always realize it. So I started looking around. Do I have them? Where do I stand in this world, with whom do I connect? Whose needs do I help fill? And I found these groups, and others, all around me. People I see regularly enough that I know them by name, not just face (a continual struggle for me!) People that I know care enough to tell me when I've messed up.

This is my thanks to them - the realization that I am not alone because of them. And in this case, this week, it starts with tea.

3 comments:

  1. This is a charming essay on the importance of friendship. I am reminded of a quote by Goethe, "To know someone with whom you feel there is understanding in spite of distances or thoughts unexpressed -- that can make of this earth a garden.

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  2. Thank you for your kind words, Richard. I had not heard the quote but I definitely appreciate it. I can see where it rings true, especially in my own life where we move around a bit and family is frequently very far away. Are you Jeff's former teacher, by chance? If you are, he's talked fondly of you often.

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  3. Yes, I am! He and I seem to have established a mutual admiration society.

    Teachers are a lot like gardeners. But having spent a majority of my career teaching dependents, I have rarely had the opportunity to see the fruits of my labor; not that I can take any credit for Jeff's considerable achievements. But I am proud to have taught him. Hopefully, I provided him with some sunshine, gentle rains, nutritious soil, or soft breezes.(I'm beginning to sound like an Irish blessing.)

    Having reconnected with him after all of these years has added a new flower to my garden.

    Perhaps you could use your wise insights and beautiful writing skills to blog about the teachers in your life and the effects that they had on you.

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I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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