An old friend called me this week.
We were friends when our noses were still too big for our faces and Usher was still in his drop top cruising the streets. It's strange to think I met him ten years ago this February. Circumstances of life drew us together and drew us away from each other at different point throughout the last decade. There were moments of laughter, confusion, joy. Never perfect. Sometimes hurtful. Always caring. The gamut of true friendship.
He called me this week, but we haven't talked in almost two years.
I wasn't bitter. He was married. Working. Busy. He was never good about keeping consistent communication. I was never any good at initiating it. Our mutual friends let me know that he was okay. Apparently content. And knowing that was good enough.
And then he called me.
Hi. Uh. How are you?
Wow. Um. I'm fine. How are you?
Awkward pauses and awkward questions proceeded. Laughter about old road trips and retreats. Stories of flat tires and new friendships. Looking forward to our eminent reunion and plotting its course.
When I hung up the phone and turned to my desk to start back at my day's work, I paused for a moment. I realized that I don't really know him any more, but yet I still feel connected to him. Our friendship is not unlike many of my other friendships past, present, or in between. Like many friendships, the memory of our times together has changed a piece of who I am.
A filmmaker recently said that sometimes life is just a collection of all-too-short walks with people who happen to be on the same path for a portion of the journey. It is true that someday our paths will part from those we walk beside. Relocation, awkward circumstances, busy schedules, children, spouses, and ultimately death will draw us away from our partners in the journey. It is true that when someone walks beside us, we run the risk that they will slow us down or push us off the path. The melancholy is suppressing. Why put forth the effort if this is all there is? If life is just a collection of hellos and goodbyes, where is the continuing joy? The reason to befriend? Isolation tempts and entices.
Even still, I'm not ready to give up. I find that when someone is at my side, I am taught to appreciate things I might not have noticed otherwise. So many have taught me grace and what it means to be graceful. Many hands have reached down to my fallen spirit and guided me back to the course. When our paths diverge into fiery sunsets, the silhouettes burn my mind's eye. My heart is warmed by the setting rays and I turn to thank the One who never leaves for the marvelous sight.
Life is no longer a collection of all-too-short walks shared with others, but an opportunity to marvel at the beauty created in and around each person who travels beside me for a moment.