Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

8-30-13 RMB Friendship

8-30-13 RMB Friendship
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
We were trapped inside the enclosed porch of my family’s Pennsylvania home. I think my friend and I were both four years old. Bees were swarmed inside. We didn’t notice them when we entered. Our playing roused them. Did they want to play too, or were they angry? Either way, my friend and I were scared. We knocked frantically on the window. I remember wanting to climb through it, but it was locked from the inside. Memory gets fuzzy there. I think my big brother and sisters came to our rescue and we climbed through the window.  
She was the first friend I can recall having. We both liked playing in the dirt, exploring the ground, marveling at an ant colony and collecting rocks. I had an affinity for any activity that messed up the clean clothing I started out with each day. We moved away within the year and I never saw that friend again, but her presence left an impression on my life.  
What is a friend? What makes a friend family? What makes a family member a friend? The part that friends play in your stories and tenacity with which you hold on to them in your life fascinates me and prompts me to ponder the composition of friendship.
Tonight, as temperatures soared, a friend and I walked the aisles of a large store, cooled by their air conditioner. This friend and I live only a few blocks apart, but even with this proximity, time slips by void of contact, until one of us calls the other and says “Hey, what’s up? Let’s do lunch or take a walk or go to a movie or....”
As I walked the aisles tonight, I knew it had been too long. I had not heard the latest news about her business, daughter, son and grandkids. She had not heard me vent about work’s latest trials, nor brag and complain about the boys, depending on their most recent accomplishments or fiascos.
We had no urgent or important news to relay. What we did have was two lives to share through our transaction of words. And that is important. I found an emptiness filled by her stories and my own struggles lessened as I let loose my trials and tales.
There is a magic in the ability to exchange words with someone that cares. This magic is an element as real as any mineral and more valuable than gold, because it enriches the spirit. Whether you chat regularly or sporadically through the years, or simply during one of life’s brief encounters, only few family members and people we meet will truly treasure our words and our presence. Those individuals are counted among us as friends.
To friendship,

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