Friends are a prized commodity these days.
I’m not talking about Facebook friends, or the casual acquaintances you make in your daily life. I’m talking about ones like those referenced in the old joke, that a friend will help you move but a true friend will help you move the body.
I have friends here where I live, but many of my closest friends — the ones from college or even before — are scattered all over the country. We don’t talk as often as we’d like, and we rarely get to see each other, but I know that if I need one of them I can call on them and they’ll be there.
Considering what’s transpired this year — and it’s been a pretty crappy year in a lot of ways — I’ve called on them more than I’d care to admit. I’ve also worked harder to cultivate relationships with people here, trying to spend more time with friends closer to home now that I don’t have nearly as many nights taken up with work.
While it’s been nice to get to know some people better and get to hang out with people I haven’t seen in awhile — not to mention try some new things — I’ve also discovered a few people I thought were close friends apparently aren’t, at least not any longer.
But that’s a small negative, and I choose to dwell on the positives. I do my best to make sure my friends know that I’m there for them if they need anything, and hope they would do the same for me. While it doesn’t result in invitations to a lot of parties, I think I’ve found a good group of people who care about me the way I care about them.
I spent too many years suffering from debilitating shyness, and though it still hits me from time to time I’ve decided I can’t afford to sit around hoping people know how I feel about them. Friends don’t just show up — they’re cultivated over time, through relationships built on trust, mutual respect and reliability.
Other people are going through things just like I am — sometimes worse — and we have to stick together so we can both get through it. That’s what friends do, help each other.