Thursday, March 01, 2007

How to become friends with your friends

I got a long e-mail from my friend Sue the other day.

Sue and I have known each other since the toddler Sunday school class at First Baptist Vallejo and since then have sometimes been best friends, sometimes best enemies, and sometimes both at the same time. We went together to church, to school, to kids' choir, to adult choir, to play practice, to youth group, to summer camp, to winter camp, to Carson City, to Nebraska, to Disneyland, to anywhere and everywhere. Our families were friends, and we were friends, mostly.

Looking back, I can see that we were two tremendously different people trying to occupy the same space--she's an extrovert and I'm an introvert; she's naturally affectionate and I'm reserved; she wanted to go out and be social (!), and I was happy with a couple of friends and a book. We competed for a lot of things. We were like sisters in the same family--we got along some of the time, but just as often, we didn't. We got into a huge, screaming fight at the Iowa State Fair, right by the butter sculptures, if that says anything.

Thankfully, adulthood has been kind to our friendship. I look at us and see that we're both in the middle of the lives we were meant to have. She lives in Southern California and says it's home to her now. She's on the road to a career she's wanted for a long time, something at which she will, incidentally, be excellent. She's dating a great guy. I'm here in Oakland, fulfilling my destiny as a bookworm extraordinaire, doing my own thing. I love looking at us as junior highers and looking at us now, and seeing that we are just ourselves, only magnified--and somehow, that makes us better friends. Being happy and secure in what we're doing, I think, has made us able to enjoy each other. Turns out that Sue is fun and welcoming and a really great encourager, and she always was those things, but I had a hard time letting her be that way, because it wasn't my way. And I'm so happy that we've gotten over that and can see each other clearly, like we probably always should have.

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