That word is like a fortress to me, although I know that in itself, it can't keep anything out-- or at least, things like betrayal, change, hurt, jealousy. It makes me feel gross inside to think of how many friendships -friendships that had a true, strong, wonderful base layer-- have been marred by other things. It's inevitable, it's life; but it makes me feel sick, like the whole world is unsteady if friendships so solid can change so much. If friendship feels weak, how can anything be strong?
But sometimes I feel something, a pulse of friendship, that really seems that strong: something held up high and far away from the other things that seek to tweak it and touch it. Only then do I feel safe.
Over the last few days, I've had lots of conversations with lots of friends. The conversations have been long or short, but many of my friends have asked me, really asked me, how I'm doing.
They look me in the eye and don't mind if I go on for a little while. For some weird reason, they are interested in me and my rambling thoughts. They don't just think that I'm nice on the eyes or fun to be around-- they care about the person that I actually am, the person that will continue to exist whether they are around to experience me or not.
We've talked about grief, some great fiction, writing aspirations, about rites of passage, about God, the future, about seasons of life and about individuals' art reflecting who they really are. With some friends, I've just had time to cast a look that hints at the conversations we still owe each other because it isn't the right moment for a long chat, but a moment to laugh and banter instead.
I feel like these people are holding me in their arms without wanting anything else out of me. I feel wholly safe and I feel friendship.
That's why I ended my last novel with friendship, I think, even though I 'can't keep romantic tension out of my writing to save me life.' The story ends with friendship because friendship is strong and safe and pure and steady and always seeks the best thing for others.
I'm blessed to have this beautiful, steady thing cloaked around me by so many people. It's not very often that I give a yea and amen to something that I cherish on the basis of security, but right now, I am savoring feeling secure.
Nothing in the world can touch me because I'm standing in this fortress.
Friends, thank you for being alive.