Sometimes I feel like a crappy friend.
Life is busy and full and overwhelming. And well, sometimes, maintaining friendships falls to the wayside.
I don’t text as often as I should. I don’t email or call. I forget to send birthday cards. I turn down invites week after week, until eventually the invites stop coming.
Sometimes it feels like I’m failing at being a good friend (okay, full disclosure: it feels like I’m failing at lots of things sometimes). I don’t make it to happy hours or girls’ nights out. I want to curl up under a blanket on the couch on Friday night instead of going out for dinner. I leave parties early, or I don’t go at all. Because babysitters are expensive and sometimes I’d just rather sleep than make small talk.
Days or weeks can go by without us talking. Or we play phone tag. Or we send texts and then forget to respond to them because, OMG, there are little people screaming for waffles and dogs barking to go outside (or worse, peeing on the kitchen floor) and we’re out of toilet paper…again.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s just me. Do other folks struggle to make time for friendship this way? I see couples out to dinner together, or taking vacations together. I see photos on Facebook of that birthday celebration the night before, and I hear (through the grapevine) about the dinner party last weekend. Because — shocker! — life goes on while you’re busy introverting or working or doing that volunteer thing you signed up for and committed to. And it’s no surprise that when life gets hard and overwhelming and too much, your friend group shrinks a bit and some folks slip away.
Because the truth is, we can only have so many best friends.
And those best friends, the top shelf ones… well, those are the ones who stick around.
So here’s to the friends who stick around, who are still there through the busyness and the stress and the really hard times…because they are the true gems in life.
To the friends from way back when…thank you for understanding my history, my background, my family. For knowing how much I’ve changed, and for seeing me for who I am now and not shaming me for the person I was back then. For changing with me, though not necessarily in the same ways, but in the way that we all change as we age. Thank you for growing up with me, for being home to me.
To the friends who keep inviting me even though I turn those invites down more than I accept them. Thank you for checking in on me when life gets overwhelming and I go quiet. For knowing that my need for solitude doesn’t mean that I don’t also need your friendship. For letting me know that you’re there, even though your life gets wild and chaotic too.
To the friends who can tell what kind of mood I’m in by the gifs I text — or don’t text — thank you for knowing how to read between the lines. For knowing that there can be so much communicated in silence and what isn’t said. For saying just the right thing at just the right time, like magic. I hope that I do the same for you sometimes.
To the friends who stick around through disagreements and hurt feelings. Who apologize when they mess up and forgive me when I mess up. Who know that friendship — like any real relationship — isn’t without its challenges and hurt feelings. Who also know that disagreements don’t need to destroy a friendship. Thank you.
To the friends who put up with sour moods and listen when I need to vent, thank you for being a gentle place. For treating me with grace and kindness. Because just like you are there for me in my mad and angry days, I will be there for you when the clouds come in. And you know this. We know this.
To the friends who share our inside jokes. Who know our most embarrassing moments and our biggest regrets — but don’t use them against us. Thank you for being a safe place for us, a treasure chest of our memories.
To the friends who understand that friendships ebb and flow, change shape and evolve…thank you for being flexible and understanding.
To the friends who are also family, thank you for knowing all those family idiosyncrasies that words can’t explain. For knowing about that one really awful family vacation from hell, and also that one that was pure magic. For laughing until we cry, and then crying until we laugh. Thank you for being more than a friend and more than family.
To the friends who show up. The friends who are there, through thick and thin, through good and bad, through cross-country moves and back again, through days when we talk every day and weeks when we don’t talk at all. To the friends who stick around… Thank you.
I promise to stick around for you too.