Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lean on Me

Last night a group of women gathered at a new wine and tapas bar in Tulsa. (LXi for those of you playing along at home). The reason we grouped together there, aside from the fantastic food, gorgeous cocktails and spare, child-free decor was to celebrate a friend who is moving from Oklahoma to Wales.

We sat on sofas around a huge table, playing musical chairs every so often in order to chat with all the others. Laura, the guest of honor, spoke about the home they are returning to, the village school, the commute. Of course, we talked about friends. Laura said when they first moved here, they knew it was a three to five year commitment; she thought she could grit her teeth and knuckle through without putting down deep roots.

Her experience mimicked my first few years in Oklahoma. I thought our stint here would be three years, five max. Fifteen years have passed.

Even if we had only been here for one year, I could not have made it through without friends. Friends like Beth, and Suzi. Laura, Julie, Krista and Lucy. Work friends, church friends and playground friends.

I railed against making new friendships and yet they cropped up unbidden and joyful, like the sprouts of seeds I'd forgotten I planted. A luminous surprise on a gray day. At once I didn't want to sow the seeds, knowing I needed them desperately.

Even though Laura's moving back to her home across the sea, it is a place where she doesn't know anyone. And she will have to begin again, with those first awkward chats at the park or school. Of course she'll be fine. She's amazing. But the older we get the harder it is. I think we avoid trying because it's uncomfortable. It takes energy. It takes tearing down the intimacy walls that we had already left exposed to those old friends.

And? It's worth it.

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