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When Friendship is Just Being Present
Your stories about when being there is enough
This week, I’m sharing your stories of the small moments that make up a friendship. Next week, I’ll have highlights from your discussion of which genres or art forms suit women’s stories. And it’s the final week on Kickstarter for Back Again from the Broken Land, the Tolkien-inspired game I’ve written with my husband.
Erin told the story of a friend she misses:
She lived down the street from us for about six months, and I loved being able to have her over to hang out while I was working on a sewing project, spontaneously inviting her for cookies that I was just about to make, or planning an apple pie with all hands on deck for peeling. This friend also regularly accompanied us on road trips, since we were often going to the same place, and we started making a habit of buying cheese platters from Wegmans and having in-car tasting sessions. (My husband, on the other hand, describes his taste as "militantly simple" and much prefers string cheese sticks. The lack of my Cheese Friend is a big hole in my life.)
I’m very familiar with that specific measure of distance: “Can they get here to eat the cookies if I call when I start making them?” When I lived in D.C. it gave me so much joy to have a friend living within “drop-in” distance, not “take two metro-lines, with a 20-minute wait for the changeover” distance. It takes the pressure off to make the visit “worth it.”
Lorrie wrote about how small acts mean most to her after the acute phase of a crisis has passed:
This kind of show up/drop in friendship has been really important for me in times of grief and illness. In the initial acute grief/illness phase you need someone to Do a Thing, pick you up after your procedure, pick up your prescription, drop you off at the airport, go to the funeral, etc. As things became less acute, and with the social expectation that you will get back to "normal," my experience was that I actually needed more from my friends, and I mainly needed someone to just be with me, take a walk together, go to the grocery store, sit with me (in person or on the phone). Also, sometimes doing mundane things together made it easier to talk, and it made it easier to take care of myself and do those house chores that can sometimes be so hard when you are sick or sad.
Vikki wrote in reply that sometimes a friend’s presence was what she needed to face hard conversations:
One day I asked, "This might sound kind of weird, but I need to call my dad [to tell him I have breast cancer] and I'm afraid I won't deal well with his reaction. Can I come over to your house to call him? So I can talk things through with you afterwards if our conversation is rough." I was really nervous about telling people!!
Liz shared one good adaptation to these routines for covidtide:
Over the summer, when our local covid cases were very low, one of the women in my parish decided that she'd commit to doing her grocery shopping on the same evening every week. This store has a greenhouse/outside garden component, and the owners had set up picnic tables and arranged for a food truck and bar to serve customers outside. She announced (word of mouth, various parish facebook groups, etc) that she'd be there for a pre-grocery shopping drink for anyone who wanted to see another adult before their own shopping trip. It was such a good, healthy and needed thing. For me, it let me see and connect to women who I'd only "seen" or interacted with (not always positively) online for the past few months, to finally meet the babies they were pregnant with in the spring, and to practice/be encouraged by others' example of consideration for each person's level of comfort and covid-related prudence.
Once a week or so, I host what I call a "Fold-and-Chat" with a friend or two. We Zoom (or call) each other while we share laundry folding (since most of my friends are fellow young moms, there is always laundry that needs folding). It's been a really nice way for us to stay in touch, especially when the lockdown was stricter. Also, since I hate folding laundry, it's a nice little incentive for me.