“Friend.” It’s a word we use casually and frequently to imply some degree of fondness and camaraderie. Often it means “someone I bumped into in cyberspace with whom I might share one or more common interests.” Or “a coworker with whom I enjoy commiserating during our rushed lunch breaks.” It could refer to a neighbor, a teammate or someone we know through community work. Rarely, it means “a cherished being with whom I share a deep and lasting soul-connection.”
In my adult life, I so often find myself craving connection with a real cherished friend. But I also find them hard to come by. I’m quiet. I think and feel deeply. As an HSP and an empath, I intuit and sense things; sometimes it takes considerable time for me to fully form a coherent thought. This makes for slow conversation and can be frustrating and a little “out there” for some people. And in recent years, my interest in and patience for small talk has worn thin while my desire to talk about politics, spirituality, and the betterment of humanity has swelled tremendously.
Long story short: While I’m eager to both have and be a friend, it’s very hard for me to find a real tried and true friend. My sought after lasting soul-connection has been elusive, but I am ever hopeful.
Summertime Friends & Fun
As summer began in mid-June, I had high hopes for my little guy as he ventured for the first time into the big kids’ world of summer camp and swimming lessons. I had lovely visions of him enjoying crafts, playing on playgrounds, splashing around in our local watering hole and perhaps making a friend or two under the hot summer sun. I saw myself shuttling him around dutifully and cheering him on as he challenged himself to do things that seemed hard and even frightening. It never occurred to me that as I sat lakeside at the same park I learned to swim at decades ago, I myself might be blessed with a new summertime friend.
Yet here we are.
As we started our sixth and final week of swimming lessons, a new mom walked onto the beach with her three kids. I recognized her right away; we’d gone to high school together for one year when she was a senior and I a freshman. We hadn’t been friends back then, though we moved in some of the same circles. I was a wallflower, intent on being invisible, especially in the presence of highly esteemed seniors of great knowledge, talent, experience, and wisdom. I wrapped myself up in the warmth of my freshman-inferiority complex and took a seat way in the back, back then.
She got her kids situated and took a seat with the other moms. And we fell into an unusually comfortable, friendly conversation.
I Think I Met Someone Real
Over the course of the next few days, we would chat about seemingly everything as we cheered our little ones on from our lakeside perch. She invited my little guy to play with hers who happens to be the same age. We discovered that we had shared experiences and perspectives, and breathed a sigh of collective relief at realizing that we wouldn’t have to walk on eggshells with each other. We talked about places we’d been, disappointments we’d encountered, our resilient spirits, and hopes for the future. Looking back, I am kind of baffled by how much territory we managed to cover in half-hour increments over the course of just five days.
As swimming lessons were drawing to a close, I found myself thinking about her on Thursday night. And I wondered, with a heart full of hopeful excitement, “is this what it feels like to make an in-the-flesh real friend?” Something inside nudged gently, asking my heart to exercise caution. But something else in me felt sure. I felt like I’d known this beautiful woman forever.
As we sat on our bench on the final day of swimming lessons, we talked about how much we’d enjoyed each other’s company. And she said something that I thought was so courageous and vulnerable, that it very nearly broke my heart wide open. “I told my husband last night,” she said, “‘I think I met someone real.'”
New Found Friend
I was overwhelmed both by the enormity of the compliment, and by the realization that this woman, now my friend, and I had been thinking and feeling the same thing just four days into our friendship. I stumbled on my words as I tried to express that I felt just the same. She didn’t seem to mind my stumbling.
Days later, the jaded “grown up” in me wonders if I’m being overly optimistic or hoping for too much from this dear new found friend. But my spirit knew hers. For all intents and purposes, we were strangers to one another, yet I found myself feeling as if we’d always been friends. And maybe on some plane, in some dimension, our spirits have met before. I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
My dear friend, if you’re reading this, I’m so grateful to have found you. And I’m humbled and honored that you shared your precious time, your beautiful heart, and your hope of finding a real friend with me. Every now and then the Heavens bless us with someone truly special, and I sense – with every fiber of my being – that you are one of those rare people for me. Grateful doesn’t seem like enough, but while I search for the right word, I hope it will do.
With much love, your friend,