Facebook says I have 478 friends. Reality tells me that number is much smaller, and I’ll always be grateful for those five.
I know society puts great value on friendships, as do I. Yet the number of them isn’t nearly as important to me as the quality of them.
Recently, one of that very small inner group came to visit for an evening. He and I hadn’t seen each other in more than a year, which is sad considering we used to seldom go more than a few hours without seeing each other. When I first moved to Lima in the late 1990s, he quickly became one of my best friends. In fact, he served as the best man at my wedding.
I’ve often figured my best friends were the ones who were the most willing to help when times got hard. He proved his worth one night when I discovered after a night shift at the newspaper that my apartment in Lima had been robbed. I don’t know why I called him just after I called the police, but he beat them over there.
It’s weird trying to explain friends to your children. Again, given the limited number of people I consider close friends, we don’t have a lot of people visiting our home. My daughters were genuinely confused why they don’t remember seeing more people come to our home, much less have to leave a bed open to stay the night. They were doubly confused when the last person they remembered doing that was this same guy, years ago.
Old friends have a remarkable ability to get through the pleasantries in a hurry and cut to the heart of the matter. He’s been through some alienating stuff since the last time we hung out, and I’ll admit I hadn’t done well reaching out to him in his time of need. Luckily, we didn’t linger on those points for long, instead focusing on the hearts of the issues instead.
Of course we talked politics, but mostly we focused on how social media skewed people’s abilities to hear differing points of view without going in for the kill instead of weighing the other person’s point of view.
Of course we talked religion, but that was mostly those moments when you feel so alone that you doubt there is a creator of the universe, much less a personal Lord and Savior in your life.
We talked for hours, about everything and anything. We sniped about NFL quarterbacks as easily as we did the challenges of our workplaces. We laughed together, and we cried together.
I wish my children could’ve seen more of our time together. I think it benefits them to see friends for life instead of friends out of convenience, those people with whom you have such a lasting connection that no matter what happens you can return to your level of comfort as of no time has passed.
So yes, I am grateful for the friends of my life, both social media and otherwise. But most of all, I’m grateful for those special few I’ll always call my friends.