By Guest Blogger, Shannon Blair
My college friends and I gather for about two days once a year–sometimes having to wait until every other year; however, we lived in each other’s dorm rooms everyday for four years. We became family. As happens though, we went our separate ways, started careers, and focused on our own families. These days, we tend to drift until one of us calls to order a Zoom or badly-needed beach reunion.
During these times, time has not passed. We walk and talk, and talk and talk–and talk some more until we have to leave.
This is how I look when I’m with them.
I’m not sure who snapped this photo, but it is a raw, uncut version of the “me” I rarely am: everything is funny, life is not so hard, much is worth celebrating, and my flaws are actually part of my charm.
While I treasure these relationships, I’ve begun to accept over the past decade that I have to keep on forming rich bonds with other people. No longer can I run over to Kim’s corner dorm room to discuss the latest conundrum nor run off with this group to Miami for a break when I need to let off serious steam. I’ve started to ask myself: “Why not talk to that other person on the sideline? After all, we are going to spend a whole season with one another.” I’ve actually formed some wonderful friendships this way.
This summer, at the pool, I’ve even forced myself (an extroverted introvert) to introduce myself to some of the other people there who were also unable to reserve a spot with their friends due to quarantine caps. It makes the time so much more relaxing to actually know these other individuals. And who doesn’t need more relaxation?
It would be remiss of me, while on this subject, not to mention my neighbors.
These men, women, and their children have been the biggest source of light and levity for my husband and me since March. We are truly doing life together–most frequently from a driveway in tailgate chairs with cold drinks and good tunes (No one quite sings Weezer’s “Sweater Song” the way we do.).
I know many of you know what I mean when I say I am grateful to now know them beyond niceties as we pass on the street or when we attend the occasional party together. I’m especially appreciative we’ve been able to lean on each other the way neighbors should. When someone needs a grocery item or an extra set of hands with the kids, we help each other out. More importantly, when one of us needs to avoid a near meltdown trying to harmonize work and remote schooling (or to just get out of the house and talk), we host a gathering (socially distanced, of course). And we laugh like I was caught laughing in that above picture.
The United Nations designated July 30th International Day of Friendship. August 1st is National Girlfriend Day, and the first Sunday in August is always National Friendship Day. So here’s to you–all of my friends–however I may know you, and for however long I have known you. You know who you are. Thank you for doing life with me (in all its phases) and extending your care to my family and me during this time.
Amish Friendship Bread
This recipe from The Seasoned Mom is one of the most delicious breads I’ve ever tasted, which makes total sense; friendships are one of the sweetest parts of life!
My next door neighbor, whom I have come to consider a dear friend, received one of three bread starters based on this recipe from her former coworker/friend. Then, she gave me one of her three starters (plus the Jello ingredient the recipe calls for, which most would not have on hand–isn’t she thoughtful?). I’ve now given away my three starters to three friends. My kids and I gobbled up one loaf in two days and have one in the freezer to take to friends when we visit.
I hope you will try out this tradition too and let the special people in your life know how much they mean to you. Or maybe you might just bring that extra loaf to a neighbor you haven’t quite gotten to know yet so they feel less alone right now.
Note: I used almond milk for my starters just fine. Just make a note when giving away for allergies.
Shannon Blair is wife to Sam and mom to Jay (10), Nora (7), and Tater (78 in dog years). When not teaching writing at Central Piedmont Community College, she can be found getting muddy in the garden, wreaking havoc in the kitchen, running and then un-running with a local craft brew, struggling to achieve Crow pose, reading, or trying to figure out which story to tell next. Stop on by and see how she can help you tell your stories too at pinkpenwriting.com.