I’m visiting Andi as I type this. Her house is an eclectic collection of art and memories. There’s the ceramic rhino bust she made, extruding from the top of the fireplace, an art project from a community ed course; the painting of children at play, accented with real butterfly wings, that hung for years above her mother’s dresser; and paper star lanterns suspended from the ceiling, souvenirs from months she spent living in Taiwan after college.
Of course, there are parts of my life here too: the picture of us and Lexi on Mistraff in front of her house in fifth grade, sits in an old oak frame on the credenza; a picture of me holding balloons outside a car lot in Denver from college taped to the glass in the hutch in the kitchen. In her art room, the crazy old frog I made for her as a high school graduation gift. And on the bookshelf in the living room is a scrapbook from the two weeks we spent at summer camp in junior high.
It’s nice to be around things so familiar.
Andi and I didn’t start out as great friends. In fact, we both found each other obstreperous (one of our favorite words in junior high). It wasn’t until a common love of horses was found that our friendship really ever had a chance. She shared books with me – Marguerite Henry’s King of the Wind, and Black Gold; and I invited her to go riding on the weekends on my family’s horses.
Then it was other things – summer walks to the library, afternoons attempting to create incredible cuisine, camp outs, and tree forts, and bike rides and art . . .
But mostly art.
Our teenage years were spent on the floor of her room, painting, creating, making things. And as we worked, we would talk about our hopes and dreams, our goals in life, the pronunciation of words, and the flight patterns of migratory birds.
There’s a song that makes my heart ache for those simple days of laughter, imagination and creation: “When we last talked, we were lying on our backs, looking up at the stars through the ceiling.” The first time I heard those words, I knew they were written by someone who understood – Andi and I used to do just that, lie on our backs after an afternoon of art projects, and talk, holding nothing back, and thinking about everything that could be.
I have known many people who have never had such friends, and that sadness weighs on me, though they, in their ignorance, are content. While friends of any degree are a precious witness to the goodness of God, the friends who help you along the way to become the person you ought to be . . . those are the rare jewels, deserving of sentimental blog posts, and weekend reunions.
Andi and I were laughing the first day I arrived, as we discussed “what kids do nowadays.” She lamented that her niece, at the ripe old age of nine, is getting too old, and too socially conscientious to do “little girl things.”
“I never worried about it around you, there was no pretense when we were growing up, we played with that dollhouse at least until we were twelve or thirteen.”
And that is the essence of friendship I suppose, being yourself, and aspiring to be better.