Friendships based on loyalty are lasting.
I have had plenty of acquaintances, people with whom I enjoy spending time , golf buddies, neighbors, people with whom I share common interests such as art or writing, former co-workers, people I call friends. Deep friendships, however, are rare.
I see friendship as existing on two levels: those with whom I “do” things, and those with whom I “am”—in the deepest level of my Self. The former seem to come into my life for a period of time. They are important to me and we help one another for a while. They are “here,” wherever here is at the time. They were those I hung with way back in High School, those with whom I worked closely over the years. Time happens, we move on, and, but for a Christmas card now and again, we don’t really maintain contact and I don’t think of them too often, except when something sparks a memory.
Those of the second group are the ones who endure. True, they may not be geographically close and communication may even be rare—but when the occasion arises, it’s as though we pick up in the middle of a sentence and carry on. We share both the joys and sorrows of our lives.
These are few because of the time and energy that sort of friendship requires—the depth of soul-baring and the willingness to be open. That loyalty that Frank Petrini speaks of in the simple quote above. A word about him later.
Such a friend in my life is Carole Snow Steward. Carole was my first girlfriend, dating back to the days when we played with paper dolls and stole my grandpa’s hammer to crack open quartz rocks looking for rings and watches because Grandpa had explained to us that gold came from quartz.
She is a year older than I and it was from her I learned about boys and with her I jumped a bus from Eagle Rock to Glendale to buy that kind of lipstick that had no color but changed according to your mood. (For that, I got in deep trouble as my parents did not deem me old enough for such vanity.
After my mom remarried and I moved a couple of towns away, we still spent weekends together. As we grew into our teen years, we shared both Elvis mania and spirituality. We went to the beach, discovered what peroxide could do to mousey brown hair, and how nice a little Vodka in coke made you feel. We ate frozen bananas dipped in chocolate at Balboa Island, got stuck on a broken-down boat from Catalina to the mainland and, oh, I could go on and on but this is starting to sound like an old lady reminiscing.
The point of this story is that even if we haven’t been in contact for a few years at a time, we are still there for one another. Carole lives in Oregon. I suppose it’s been about 20 years since we’ve been together when David and I took a road trip up I-5. But in-between, we both know where to turn when we need prayers or support, as Carole did recently when one of her sons was facing a life-threatening, debilitating health crisis.
I have other close friendships like Carole’s now, thankfully. And good friends who fill my life with fun and support, but I can count on the fingers of one hand the Carole’s of my life.
I hope all of you are blessed with such a friend.
Note: Those of you who live or have lived in the San Francisco Bay area may remember Petrini Grocery stores. If so, do you remember the little sayings that the founder, Frank Petrini had painted on the walls of his beautiful markets? Frank was a dear friend of my parents, and subsequently, mine. After his death the markets were sold. He once told me that his deepest regret was his lack of education. An Italian immigrant, he began his career at a young age as a butcher’s apprentice. His resolve to succeed, to become all he could be, resulted in the founding of his grocery chain. His sayings are preserved in a self-published book: The Proverbs of Frank Petrini.