Tag Archives: friends

My Friendship Manifesto

Over the years, I have watched the push and pull of friendship. This is what I know and what I believe. In fifty years, it may be different.

MY FRIENDSHIP MANIFESTO

I believe in group text messages.

I believe in saying “best friend” and meaning it. In sitting in diners with a cold cup of hot tea for two hours.

I believe in answering the phone at two a.m. At four a.m. I believe in listening, no questions asked, to the voice on the other end of the line.

I believe in emergency meetups and gas money and thank you notes just because. I believe in virtual hugs and smiley face emoticons and email rants and Words With Friends games that go on just so you can stay close while far away.

I believe in sleepovers and Skype sessions and silly quizzes from beauty magazines. Inside jokes with origins long forgotten.

The feeling you get when you’ve missed this thing, this place, so bad that your heart aches when you return.

The split entrée. The designated driver. The one who agrees, reluctantly, to put the bumpers up at the bowling alley.

I believe in games from Target. Games in Target. Loud music and wet cheeks.

The feeling you get when someone knows what you need — even if you don’t.

I believe in reaching for the phone before it rings and more-than-obligatory congratulations and the communal sadness when It Doesn’t Work Out.

I believe in three a.m. meteor showers and spontaneous road trips to the beach and theoretical plots to egg houses in redemption.

I believe in writing their hearts onto these pages.

I believe there’s no designated time for friendship, no opportune moment for catastrophe.

If you are on the ground, hugging your knees, with no will to live, you call me for one reason. For ten thousand reasons. For a human voice on the other end of the line.

I believe in faith where there is none, in encouraging special talents, in nominating someone for what they deserve.

I believe in friendship that’s not half-baked but fresh out of the oven. Cookies saran wrapped and plated for the new neighbor.

I believe in giving generous servings of it, this little thing called friendship, hoping someone might return the favor.

Mostly, though, I believe in the kind that stays with you through all the awkward stages of growing up until you are ready — eager, even — to repay that favor.

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Why You Should Never Take A Broken Girl To Target

how to handle a broken hearted girl, broken girlTarget is the last place to take a broken girl.

She’ll walk up to the jewelry counter and pick out all the Christmas gifts she’ll never receive. She’ll pick out an over-sized sweatshirt from the Men’s department to hide the body she wants to cover up. She’ll muse over cheap sunglasses to conceal her tear-streaked, tired eyes.

She’ll start telling you about this time she and him slipped and fell in the cleaning products aisle. How they missed a Wet Floor sign. Or the day they wasted an hour rating the softness to price ratio of all the bath towels and argued whether the magenta ones really were gentler than all the rest.

She’ll ask to sit down in front of the picture frame collages because all of the fake family models look so happy, so perfect, so carefree.

You’ll have to tell her stories, like that the mom battled breast cancer and had a mastectomy and that’s why her daughter is standing in front of her chest. Or the son used to get bullied in school because he’s short for his age. You’ll end up making elaborate invented life histories for them until you a) feel awful and b) believe it.

And then, of course, she’ll start sobbing all over again for these aching strangers.

The store might distract her for an hour, making her think Feeling Normal is just a matter of walking down the bread aisle, throwing a loaf in her cart, and moving on to decide between Tide and Purex. Between liquid fabric softener and dryer sheets.

Pretty soon, though, the mountain breeze fragrance smells just like this one sweatshirt of his she stole last summer after it rained during a minor league baseball game.

Scent is our strongest memory trigger, so stay far from the candles that smell like cinnamon rolls and pumpkin pie.

If she does wander into the big Red and White, yank her outside as fast as you can.

Bring her instead to a park in some random county three towns over. Be there, quiet and solid in her wake, for the moment her knees give out.

Hold her hand or let her cry. She might tell you all the things she always hated about him, really, if she’s going to be honest.

Nod and let her list them. Some things will be true and others she’ll just wish. Let her do what she wants, but don’t make her face Feeling Normal until she’s ready.

Maybe, just that first day, you can buy her milk and M&Ms. You can hold her pack of travel tissues while she tries to clear her head, her whole memory perhaps, of a time when things were different.

Maybe that is all we can do, praying it is enough.

Twenty one is just another barrier standing between her and the rest of the world.

Someone was looking out for me when they threw the hypochondriac four rooms down from the girl for whom “personal pharmacy” was a serious understatement.

the hangover hospital

via weheartit.com

It’s no wonder I want to take the Red Cross emblem from outside the Emergicare Center next to Hardee’s and tack it above her bedroom door.

I wish I could say there’s some other image I picture when I think of her, something sweet and welcoming like a smile or a handshake, but no.

No, it’s the hospital, the rescues, the always-here-when-you-need-me-and-even-if-you-think-you-don’t moments that stick with me for four years and threaten to pull me back to reality if ever my feet lift too far off the ground.

She found us on Facebook. And no, I did not change my name to Girl With An Endless Sea of Problems. She walked right into that door, my friend.

Walked right into our open oak bedroom door, too. Inserted herself into our lives, demanding those four years of us in just four seconds.

I have never, well not since kindergarten, met someone with such boldness when it comes to making friends. Few of us are daring enough to plunge into icy water and break back through the surface, refreshed and almost comfortable already, even though we know it’s going to be OK.

Brooke did that. And I needed that sort of reckless confidence lying around. I needed someone to waltz into my life, promising to stick by me when the going got rough.

And oh, how rough it got. How many times she had to talk me down from cliffs when I was sure I was dying. Sure death was lurking just around the next corner, ready to grab me with its greedy little hands and pull a bed sheet over my head.

The only time I’ve ended up in the ER since my freshman year, she was fortunate enough to escape the phone call that came when I woke up disoriented and wondering how, when someone takes you in an ambulance, you get back home.

Do you walk? Do you crawl? Do you sit down on the cold concrete outside the waiting room drop-out pull-through overhang of that empty, brand-spanking-new parking lot and pray someone channels your inner being to find you?

No. You call your roommate and when she asks where you are, when she asks where the hospital is, you tell her the truth: All you remember is seeing a Sheetz somewhere out the back window of a moving vehicle. And then nothing. Nothing except that absolute terror when you come to and realize someone is wheeling you in on a gurney. Like you really are on the brink of dying.

I am so glad I never put her through that, so thankful because I know she will travel – has traveled – leaps and bounds to help me when I’ve fallen.

I know all about those people, the ones for whom a phone call or a text message is not enough. Oh no, she has to trudge across campus in the middle of a hot afternoon when she has no time, really, to stop what she’s doing. She has to find the girl in the middle of a breakdown, any breakdown, and calm her down.

She is the youngest, if we’re going by birth dates. Turned the big 21 yesterday.

But something tells me that 21 is just another number, just another barrier standing between her and the rest of the world. And she’s conquered it already, moved on to something more urgent.

A Mix CD for the Broken-Hearted

I’m not yet ready to let go of you.

Give me five more minutes, God, with the girl crying on her bedroom floor. Knock again in half an hour when I’ve begun to lose the feeling in my arms from holding on and healing invisible wounds.

kid looking at records

via weheartit.com

Hands looped around heaving shoulder. Fingers interlocked and absorbed all the bad poison.

Give me four more years to memorize our Sunday afternoon football routine and make sure I know all the penalty rules before I go jetting off to another state forever and always. Maybe then, I can ease my grasp from around her chest.

I am not so graceful in the art of letting go, if you haven’t noticed. I’m not so great at saying the right thing or knowing when to back off, but I make a killer mix CD for the days when raindrops become permanent fixtures on windshields.

A mix CD for the broken-hearted.

“Pop this sucker into the boom box perched on your sorrowful shoulders and let the melody carry you away,” I’d say.

I’m picturing someone like a young John Cusack, sliding through summer nights on a hope and a prayer.

Here’s what made my list:

1. When Your Heart Stops Beating – +44
2. Tomorrow and the Sun – Adam Pascal
3. Bleed – Anna Nalick
4. Go – Boys Like Girls
5. Play On – Carrie Underwood
6. Life After You – Daughtry
7. Molly Smiles – Jesse Spencer
8. With A Little Help From My Friends – Jim Sturgess (or The Beatles)
9. Little Emily – Kari Kimmel
10. The War – Melee
11. Pearl – Katy Perry
12. Dear John – Taylor Swift

What’s on your mix CD for the broken-hearted? 

I’m an equal-opportunity lover.

My mother didn’t teach me how to love suburban-style or warn me about falling in love with a boy for whom English was a second language.

Oops.

I’m concerned we’ve watched one too many movies set in the 1950s where everyone’s skin is the color of Wonderbread.

Is racism is now a chemical additive in our Skippy and Welch’s jars so that when we make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, all that bad stuff sticks to the inside of our mouths and lines our stomachs and eats away the acid?

I go to college in the south, where 80% of last year’s freshman class was white. My roommates don’t know about diversity. They never had the option to fall in love with a boy whose skin glows golden in the summer. Tanned arms wrapped around them on a breezy summer night like a blanket.

They might not think twice about cutting someone down because of the color of his skin or the love threaded into his mother’s cooking.

For the record, she made some of the best lasagna I’ve ever had in my life.

We’re not together anymore. Me and him. It had nothing to do with the way his mother says his name, a breath of air easing off her tongue in a way I could never master. Nor did it have to do with conversations between the two of them, while I stood on the other side of the staircase while they fought—her yelling in Spanish and him in English, just to drive her crazy.

It’s called code-switching.

And it doesn’t matter that he answers her in English, because she retorts back in Spanish.

That’s how love works, too. It happens to each of us differently, but we all know what it is. We all know the other person’s falling even if it feels like they’re speaking a different language.

I’ve been living with my grandparents for a month now. We don’t see much of each other except at dinner, and we generally get along. But sometimes, the generational gap creeps up on me from behind and pulls a sack over my head. Leaves me stuck in the middle of their kitchen with no words to defend someone else’s story.

My grandparents believe everyone in America should speak English. I never met my ex-boyfriend’s grandmother, even though she visited that whole first summer we dated. She doesn’t speak English, but I don’t think she needs to.

Because it doesn’t matter.

“If you live in the country, you should learn to speak the language,” my grandfather says to me. I try to find the words to tell him about the Hispanic families I drive by on the way to work in New Brunswick each morning. The mothers who push strollers and walk their antsy sons and daughters to the front steps of the elementary schools lining the road.

No words come. We are speaking different languages—me, the advocate for those with less money and more love, and him, the consummate logic-abider who does not budge for anyone.

I wonder how he would’ve reacted if my ex-boyfriend didn’t speak English. If my grandfather knew he isn’t technically an American citizen; that his mother sometimes stumbles over words and his cousins will probably always speak Spanish.

“Castilian Spanish,” my grandfather says to me. “That’s real Spanish.”

As if the rest of the dialects are fake imposters lined up in a county jail, waiting to be identified. Slapped on the wrist for trying to be a language. For trying to communicate amongst people, and share life and love and compassion.

If he weren’t from Madrid, should I have loved him any less? Should we cut someone else down because they came to America and didn’t have the resources or the brain capacity left to start learning all over again?

I wonder, if my grandfather moved to Spain, what he would do. I wonder if he knows that you cannot choose how you fall in love, but that you simply wake up, well after you’ve said your goodbyes, and realize the song “Forever Love (Digame)” by Anna Nalick will always freak you out.

Because my mother never taught me about the proper way to fall in love. For that, I can only thank her.