The Circle of Friends

Making friends is one of those things that takes a lifetime to learn how to do in my opinion. I don’t recall the exact moment I met my very first friend, I just know her name was Laurel. We were six years old and she was in my first grade class. 21 years later I still talk to her pretty much every day. 
Back then making friends was as easy and simple as asking, “Will you be my friend?”
Years later, through the drama of middle school and high school, and the raging chaos of college, those simple little words didn’t quite fit the bill when attempting to build a friendship with someone new. Suddenly it mattered who that person was, the types of interests they had, and if they were going to judge you after a night of drunken debauchery and bad decisions. I spent a lot of time in this phase trying to be someone I wasn’t in order to maintain friendships that would never last. Needless to say it was a tough time for me.
And then, I made friends with myself. I finally let go of all the self-created standards and struggles to fight my natural tendencies in order to impress someone else. In accepting the person I was, and learning to love that person, I started to find some true friendships, with people that actually liked me…for being me.
A few years after that brought me to our new home in South Dakota, and for the first time since I was in elementary school I had to start all over with making friends. After the first few months of getting settled here passed, I desperately needed someone other than Husband to hang out with from time to time. There is an invaluable goodness for the soul that comes from talking to someone outside of your immediate life and happenings. And although Laurel and Liz, and my sister, mom, and aunt were just a phone call or gchat away, there still existed a need for some face-to-face girl time. Some time to chat over a bottle of wine and feed on some serious girl talk. 
I find that as you get older, you have a lot less time to waste your precious energy and time on people and relationships you don’t foresee as lasting. When it came to making friends here, it was a lot tougher than I had anticipated. I’m a pretty social person, but I was seeking that real connection with someone. That connection that makes you feel comfortable enough to spill your deepest thoughts without fear of judgement. That connection that although you’ve just met, you feel like you’ve known each other for a lifetime. That connection that makes time spent together feel as effortless and natural as breathing.

I finally found that soon after the six month mark in SD. 
Taryn works with me. She says things like “bag” funny and it makes me smile. She grew up on a farm in eastern South Dakota, and I love to hear her stories about having to drink milk with every meal (milked fresh from their dairy cows that morning), and her legendary dog, Faith, that saved her from a wild animal when she was young. She’s no nonsense, and I can’t tell you how much I value her frankness. She’s beautiful and caring and full of an energy that I find very invigorating and inspiring.
Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one to see all of these great things about her. As of this coming Wednesday she is leaving the great state of South Dakota for a job in Texas. 
I couldn’t be happier for her to have this opportunity. She deserves it more than anyone I know. But of course I can’t help but feel a bit cheated. We only just got close, and now she’s leaving. 
I’ve thought about God’s purpose behind placing her in my life, and then so quickly taking her back out. (Not that I don’t expect a phone call when you are in town on business Taryn!) And it recently dawned on me that our friendship showed me that it is possible to find friends, good friends, that don’t come from the same hometown or even home state as you do. I had begun to feel like it would be impossible to connect on a deeper level with anyone new because to fill in the backstory of my life seemed like it would take years to do, and yet felt necessary in order to get to know each other. Taryn’s friendship has made me realize that each friendship has its own timeline and its own purpose. 
Coincidentally, the day Taryn leaves, I am leaving for North Carolina to celebrate the wedding of a friend I’ve had almost as long as mine with Laurel. We’ve played ball together, danced at silly sleepovers, had water balloon fights in the back yard, and drank too much at hole-in-the-wall bars together. We aren’t as close these days, as life has progressed and our husband’s jobs have separated us by a thousand miles or so. But friendship remains, and we still find ourselves standing up next to each other on these most important occasions. 
The circle of friends is a vast one. Full of surprises and sometimes disappointments. But the beauty of a true friend is one of God’s great miracles. And I’m glad to have found a few to make my life that much more rich.
Good luck Taryn! And congratulations Ree!

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