Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Exquisite Pleasure of Making New Friends

I've never been a person who took friendships for granted. I still remember the cold-water-shock of graduating from college, where I knew everyone and liked at least half, to entering medical school, where a person I thought might turn into a friend greeted news of my departure with, "Great, that's one less person I have to beat," to the work life, where, since it was a chemistry research lab, my choices were limited to mostly men mostly much older than myself. That was difficult.

Then I quit to write full-time while caring for a newborn with a husband in medical residency, living in the sort of condo association where you could go decades without ever meeting the person living beside you. People drove out of their garages in the morning and back into them at night, and never, ever, stepped outside

That was a little lonely.

Then we moved to Bristol and put down roots. Some of my friends here have walked with me the paths of babies-toddlers-grade school-high school-college. We'll be watching each other's children marry next, and then gathering for lunch to brag about our grandchildren. Bristol's the type of Southern small town where the grocery clerk notices when I come in on Tuesday instead of Monday and wants to know what my next book will be about. I once got a phone message from the library: "The book you put on hold is in. We'll keep it for you for two days, so, honey, you can just pick it up on Wednesday on your way to Faith in Action." I kid you not.

(It's a fabulous place to raise kids. Everyone in town keeps an eye on them. and will let you know the moment yours crosses a line.)

Still, new friends are such a treasure. I've had two really happy moments in the last few weeks, when I've realized that people I'd really like to get to know better want to get to know me better, too. I'm not going to blab the details all over the web. I'm just happy about it, and I thought I'd share.