Last week I said good-bye to one of my closest friends. “I’m used to this,” I told myself. Somehow, that does not make it any easier. In an unbidden act of total irony, I found myself in the Atlanta airport yesterday, on a layover during my travels back to Chicago. Almost exactly fifteen years prior (give or take a day or two), my family flew out of the Atlanta airport to move to the other side of the world, literally. Fifteen years is not very long. Yet for me it’s seemed like a couple of lifetimes smooshed together. A lot has happened in fifteen years.
Anyway, the temptation throughout the years has sometimes been to keep a safe distance from really deep relationships, because those good-byes totally hurt the most. But I keep meeting these incredible people who make it pretty near impossible for me to keep myself from loving them. I try, but they are just too wonderful.
So I appreciated this challenge from Shauna Niequist in her fabulous collection of essays, Bittersweet. I think she wrote this part just for me.
Share your life with the people you love…if you let enough years pass, and if you let the routine steamroll your life, you’ll wake up one day, isolated and weary, and wonder what happened to all those old friends. You’ll wonder why all you share is Christmas cards, and why life feels lonely and bone-dry…So walk across the street, or drive across town, or fly across the country, but don’t let really intimate loving friendships become the last item on a long to-do list. Good friendships are like breakfast. You think you’re too busy to eat breakfast, but then you find yourself exhausted and cranky halfway through the day, and discover that your attempt to save time totally backfired. In the same way, you can try to go it alone because you don’t have time or because your house is too messy to have people over, or because making new friends is like the very worst parts of dating. But halfway through a hard day or a hard week, you’ll realize in a flash that you’re breathtakingly lonely, and that the Christmas cards aren’t much company. Get up, make a phone call, buy a cheap ticket, open your front door.