Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Martha's Growing List of Friends

I used to think you could only have one friend.

The best friend. The one who knew everything about you. Who could read your every mood. The flipside being she knew all the buttons to push.

I found myself in troubling situations where another girl would say, "This is my friend Martha" and I would find myself awkwardly thinking, yikes,friend? When did we decide that? You don't know anything about me and I don't know anything about you!

I didn't realize you could have more friends until Oprah told me.
Yes, I used to believe everything Oprah told me. In this case she was mostly right.

She named five other kinds of friends every girl should have. The friend who is always encouraging, the one who is flexible, the one who tells you the truth, the one who just wants to party, and the one who defies expectation.

Through this list, I began to identify other friends, and I finally realized who I was, as a friend, to these people who had seen me as such. Most surprising is I discovered I was a different kind of friend to different people.

But why stop at five friends? I began collecting more. The friend who had the same upbringing as me and just got it. The friend who believed in the same causes I did. The friend who shares my hobbies and interests. The friend who understood my dream of becoming a writer. The friend who understood why I resented my dream of becoming a writer.

I kept thinking it would all be too much but the more I made room for friends in my life, the more room I had, and best yet, they became friends with each other and before I knew it there was this crazy collection of people, one for every occasion, and even better - from their perspective - I was just one of many, too.

Plus why stop there? Why only have one friend who tells you the truth when you can have several? Your one friend can't be available all the time, can she? You need backup! A dozen friends who share your hobby. Another half-dozen who are flexible. At least eight who understand your dream of writing (hey there, Pens, looking good).

I suppose that brings me to my unlikeliest of friends - at least, if you knew me, you'd think this to be the case.

"The husband" - as I call him. As of today, we've been together for sixteen years and married for eleven. That is not quite half my life. But it's close.

He is not my best friend. A girl I've known almost five years longer holds that distinction.
He is not the one who is encouraging. He's actually kind of a naysayer.
Not the one who is flexible. He's rather an intractable engineering sort.
Not the one who tells the truth. At least not without a lot of hemming and hawing.
Not the one who likes to party. He's a complete homebody.
Not the one who understands my upbringing. He doesn't get my family at all.
Not the one who shares my causes. Some of our biggest fights are about his lack of understanding them.
Not the one who shares my hobbies and interests. He's into the sports and the outdoors (ugh).
Not the one who understands my dreams. He far more practical than that.

I understand this means I am not these things to him, either.

He's that "unlikely" friend. The one who shouldn't work, but does. The one you'd never pick out of a crowd for me. I picked him all myself, half-fate, half-accident.

I only have one of him.
I only need one of him.

Until Oprah tells me otherwise, at least.


Gigi Pandian said...

This made me smile this morning :)

L.G.C. Smith said...

Aww, you made me smile big. Here you are being unexpectedly, er, romantic. Wonderful post. And you're an awesome friend. It's one of your (many) special talents.

Barbara said...

Thank you, Martha. I never had a mental explanation for why I love and need my beloved, and now you've given me one. He's my unlikely, too, and as necessary to me as air and water--and a notebook and pencil. Well said.

Rachael Herron said...


Anonymous said...

I know, shocking, I have FEELINGS sometimes. Oh Barbara, the "explanation" was a revelation for me, too. Yay Oprah!

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