In this season of Thanksgiving, I have more than most for which to be grateful—robust health, a profession that brings me profound joy and purpose, a beautiful home, money to meet my basic needs—and an abundance of love from my community, my clients, my husband, family, and friends.
Growing up an Army Brat, I learned early-on the importance of friends—and the piercing loneliness that comes with being the perpetual new girl in school—and having none. In addition to being a gypsy-child, I was painfully shy. My friendship-making skills consisted solely of standing on the sidelines desperately hoping to be asked to play. Since I brought nothing but gawky novelty to the game, my brief friendships were always with those as socially awkward as I. But I clung tenaciously to those friends—until forcibly ripped away.
By the time my parents promised we were finally settling down for keeps, I was 13 and had attended 21 schools from kindergarten through 8th grade. I had no grasp of permanence and was wary of committing to one more relationship in which my heart could be broken. Because adolescence is fraught with drama that I never learned to navigate, I was out of high school and 17 when I first started collecting forever friends.
I learned to reach out and to hold on—to be there when needed and to accept the love of others when I’m in need. I learned to trust others with my deepest truths and to feel safe sharing my authentic (sometimes crazy) self. I learned to put my heart at risk.
And, although I’m a good friend, I’m not always easy. I’m still introverted, with a deep inherent need for restorative solitude. When facing personal challenges, my instinct is to hole-up like a wounded animal until regaining my strength. When I write, I go missing. (With the journey of East of Mecca, I’ve been missing more on than off over the last 22 years!) And creating this website and writing blog posts has been a joyous, but time-consuming project—requiring vast amounts of alone time.
So, my closest forever friends are not only entrusted with my deepest truths—they accept me for all that I am and support my dreams by tolerating my absences and accepting long overdue phone calls without judgment or recrimination.
Coming up for air this past week, after a wonderfully festive and crazy-busy few months, I started reaching out to my friends—feeling grateful as always when they reached back. Over time I will be posting essays about these people, starting now with Soul Foodie, about my very first forever friend. Right now, I’m sending out a collective thank you to those I love. My blog posts won’t always conclude with music, but Carole King says it so perfectly—I can’t resist.
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