When I stood in the shower, the water ran itself in tributaries — slipping around my shoulder, gliding over the small of my back, and then traipsing over the curve of my hip. My flesh and bones mark time. The fullness in my hips and belly, mocking my attempts to tame them. Aches unravel beneath the rivulets of water; water I run hot. So hot, it makes my skin all splotchy red. Steam will hang in the air long after I’ve turned the faucet to off and H yells from the kitchen, “Did you save any hot water for me?”
I am lost in thought and giddiness — looking forward to a lunch date with a friend. We will linger over naan and mango chutney and mulligatawny soup. This friend of mine has a knack for calling at just the right time and — more often than not — into our conversation she weaves the words, “Hey, do you wanna go with me to…” So later today, we’ll have lunch. In the shower, I am rinsing Crabtree and Evelyn lather off my wrist when I realize she’s got a gift for this. For friendship.
Holley Gerth once said we sometimes build a wall around ourselves and then we wonder why we’re all alone. Behind the wall. It takes work to get out from behind walls like those. Climb over, crash through, dig a trench and squeeze your body underneath. Call out for help (God forbid — I know, I know). Accept the hand that’s offered through the crack in the mortar.
I turned 49 this year, and I’m still learning how to be a friend. Some days, I have to remind myself to pick up the phone. Write a note. Send an email. Ask for help. Let my guard down. Linger. Share my fears. Laugh until I can’t catch my breath. Trust you. Let you in.
Friendship is a gift and it is worth the risk of tearing down the wall and all the other things I use to try to keep it safe. And I say it’s a gift, but really…that word is nowhere close to being good enough. Friendship is light and life and disco music (or, maybe you prefer unicorns?). Contrary to what we may have thought, it can’t be bought. It can’t be sold.
In the restaurant, my friend and I sit in chairs across from each other, at the table in front of the plate glass window. This part of the restaurant is two steps higher than the rest of the room. So here we sit, sharing a platform. Eating naan. Spooning chutney. Sipping soup. It is utterly divine. The platform-sitting is not lost on me. You caught it, too, didn’t you? Isn’t this the best use of a platform? To set a table on it and invite your friends over for a meal?
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is the thing worth protecting. This breaking of bread. This clinking of silverware against white, restaurant dishes. This friendship in front of a plate glass window.