Wednesday, July 25, 2007

sideways glance

One of my oldest and closest friends told me a while back that had we not known each other since middle school—had we just met now—we probably wouldn't be friends. She had also said the same of another mutual friend—a shallow, right-leaning, money-loving, prestige-seeking mutual friend, mind you. She didn't mean any harm in saying this to me or to say that she didn't value our friendship. Neither was she implying that either of our lives was better than the other. Just different...and a bit incongruous. That stung a little.

I recently watched Sideways and the relationship between Miles and Jack got me thinking about this again.

My friend is probably right. Our lives are different, our priorities are different, many of our values are different...but different to the extent that as strangers we'd repel or at least not recognize something in each other's personality that we'd like to pursue? Probably not the former. Probably the latter.

If this is the case, then how do such unlikelihoods happen and what makes them stick?

The hodgepodge that is your cohort in middle and high school and college is definitely a factor, but the friendship incubation clinches it. The friendcubation. If you're lucky enough to stay in one place for a good chunk of time in your life from puberty on, and if you're lucky enough to have one or more people along with you to wade through that sludge, you've likely picked up one or more friends that got special consideration. A second glance and second chance. (And, in some rare cases such as the mutual friend mentioned previously, a third, fourth...or twenty-eighth chance.)

There has to be some measure of mutual appreciation, some glint of goodness recognized between you and another person in order for a friendship to have any odds of taking off. But for all the distractions and deflections of life, and individual perceptions and realities, you may not glean this from an occasional encounter.

In the midst of madness, though, with these individuals you discovered loveliness:
A brilliant mind.
A new perspective.
A kind, compassionate heart.
A good sense for nonsense (the importance of which can hardly be overstated).
A guaranteed, tell-it-like-it-is opinion.
A penchant for mischief.
Good company for lounging.
Good company for cutting loose to play and explore.
An appreciation for good humor (more specifically, your humor).

Loveliness like this makes you want to be better or take a chance on something you might not otherwise try. It can also provide respite from feeling like you have to be anything other than who you are. It draws out your own loveliness.

For all of these and more reasons, these are friends to hang onto when you can--when distance or diverging life paths don't drive too much of a wedge between you and them. The best friendships are those that are unexpected. The ones that beat the odds.

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