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The Comfort of Friendship

BFF: Kentucky & Riley
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Skitters and Vinnie - BFF

When I was a kid, many long years ago, I didn’t have very many friends. I went to the Catholic school attached to our parish church, but the church was far enough away that we had a local chapel where the families in our area attended Mass. So, if I wanted to participate in school activities, I had to be dropped off and picked up. My parents were overprotective, my father having been scarred for life by the Lindbergh kidnapping. Seriously, it was an awful incident, but we didn’t have any money and certainly no fame. We just didn’t provide much prospect for fame or fortune for any would be kidnappers.

All of this meant that I was dropped off at school right before school started and picked up right after. However, I AM happy to report that I was never kidnapped. Catholic school didn’t have recess. Kids played before school and during lunch. That’s when you were with your friends.

Kids who lived by school would either come to the playground and play or go to each others’ houses to play. I lived by Rogers, the public school. The kids in the neighborhood went to Rogers. After school, they went to Hebrew school. It was high school before I really had any friends.

Like most of us, my friends got me through high school. Then we picked up and moved to across the country. My friends were left behind and although I wrote letters for a time, the friendships faded. (Back in the OLD DAYS calling long distance was expensive.)

Learning About Friendship

While I was attending Community College, I made three significant decisions – to learn computer programming, to take Speech 100 and to get married. All of them changed my life. While I was taking computer programming courses, I discovered one of my talents and became one of the nerds that hung out in the lab. My nerdy friends were good people and we stayed friends as long as I was a nerd – at least part time.

BFF
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Most students hate taking the mandatory speech class. I hated it also, until the instructor invited me to join the speech team. From then on, there was no shutting me up – actually most people would tell you I never shut up before then, but NOW I had friends who appreciated a good talker!

When I met my husband-to-be he introduced me to many of his life-long friends, most of whom I lost when we divorced. On the other hand, I got new family members who have stayed with me for life.

Today

Now I have lots of friends. Some I got while working at my corporate job. Some have developed at Dog Park. Ellie (the other half of BouncebackCafe.com) and I met while serving on the board of the local chapter of the American Society for Training and Development.

The older I get, the more I count the blessings of all these friends. As a kid, our family kept ourselves separate and apart from others. One of the most important rules was to never tell anyone outside the family anything about what went on at home. Since everything had to be perfect, friends seldom could come over to visit.

I admit I’ve been lucky. When I was young I decided that I couldn’t hide everything from everyone. I went to a high school where relationships were built and cherished. While I have a tenuous relationship, at best, with the Catholic Church, the Benedictines have been one of the foundations of my life.

By admitting I didn’t know how to do something, I found people who would teach me. By offering to help, I found people who helped me in return. I’ve found people who love to read and discuss books; people who like dogs better than most people; people who’ve made me part of their families and yet given me space to participate when I want to. All of these different friendships have enriched my life in ways I never could have predicted.

Families from Friends

In the end, we each need to decide for ourselves what is important. It’s been said before, though I can’t remember by whom, that friends are the family we choose. Friendships, like family, have their ups and downs. We get out of sync with each other. But if we’re tolerant, if we’re open, if we’re flexible, friends may just be one of the best ways to bounce back in tough times.

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