My guidance counselor in high school used to have this quote on her wall: Friends are the family you choose for yourselves, it said. I’ve been thinking a lot about that quote these past few weeks. If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been posting as much. It’s been a ruff month you could say. Tumultuous. And I’ve realized – for better or worse- that with this blog, I often post a lot of the good stuff. The hard stuff isn’t so fun to right about – go figure. I’ve realized I’m an incredibly private person. Counterintuitive I know when you document your life with a very public blog. That doesn’t exactly scream introvert. But I am, an introvert that is. In the most extroverted of ways. But still, an introvert all the same.
So this past March with its wave of angst and relief and anxiety and tumult all mixed in one weren’t exactly the stuff with which I wanted to take to the blogging sphere. My friend puts it this way: Inesha, you’re a groundhog. I hate to admit it but she’s sort of right. When things get tough, I’d rather dig in and hide away. I run up my swinging mileage. I find solace in lyrics. I don’t speak. At least, not very much. I go into my hole and dig, dig, dig. I process – a lot. I internalize… everything. I wait it out. I swallow pain, I gulp down tears, I call few. It’s a coping strategy that is not the best even as it is my own and even as it is incredibly hard to admit. The last few months have taught me this much at least.
I tell you this because it creates context. Because now that I am coming up to the surface, this is what I do want to put down in words. This past month and a half has reframed in so many ways what I consider to be friendship and what I’ve found to be the fundamental values I treasure most. In a contest between honesty and loyalty, it is close, but I value loyalty so. And when it comes to friends, letting them in close, means giving them permission to hurt us, to leave their mark, to enter into our lives. But knowing all the same that it is in our power to revoke that permission at any time. It’s a power that I’d like to forget we hold sometimes, one that has made me realize just how tenuous friendship can sometimes be.
Friendship means facing my fear of disappointment in the face — my fear of being disappointed, of disappointing myself.
And it means fighting.
At the beginning of March, I don’t think I knew that last one about myself — how important it was to me. But I believe in fights. In dinner conversations that are uncomfortable. In cold wars that lead to stand offs where you have to set everything on the table and deconstruct your friendship, what it means to you, and why you won’t ever stop fighting for it. For the person who ought to give 50 some of the time but more often than not gives only 10 (and to be clear, more often than not, that person is me.)
I had someone tell me recently that he didn’t think there was anything such as fundamental values because values are always changing. It’s an interesting point, but I have to disagree. Values do indeed evolve; they are stretched; they are challenged; they come into contact with others and you eventually have to define where one value stands on the hierarchy, the spectrum of them all. But if this month and a half of digging in has taught me anything it is that in friendship, as in love and as in family, the one thing I will always value is fighting, fighting for what you believe just as much as you would for the person on the other end. Even as this month has been hard, really hard, it’s shown me again and again how many fighters there are in my life, how many people put aside minutes, hours, days of their time just for me. Who fight for me – when the chips are up, and down. And that, that means more than I can say.
Here’s to you, friends. Thank you for being a part of the family I’ve chosen for myself. I love you so.
Will you take a moment?
That you’ll stand by me forever
But if God forbid fate should step in
And force us into a goodbye
If you have children some day
When they point to the pictures
Please tell them my name
Tell them how the crowds went wild
Tell them how I hope they SHINE
Long live the walls we crashed through
I had the time of my life, with you
Long, long live the walls we crashed through
How the kingdom lights shined just for me and you
And I was screaming long live all the magic we made
And bring on all the pretenders
I’m not afraid.