The Satiating Power of Friendship
I tend to be a creature of habit. At restaurants, I find what I like, and always order it, reluctant to try anything new or different. I can be like this with friends too, waiting to find someone I click with, usually someone a lot like me. But time and experience have taught me that some of the best friends need not be soul mates. In fact, difference can truly make a friendship sweet.
I first learned this about 15 years ago when I moved to Arizona and there was not a soul mate in sight. I felt like a freak in my ward because I had a degree and no kids. Who knew that would make me an outcast! So for a while I refused to order and went hungry. Eventually I realized I need to try another “item on the menu” and decided to make friends with someone at work that had just graduated from high school and was recovering from a colonoscopy. She had no colon, I had no friends and EmilyCC and I saved each other from loneliness. I continued to branch out and found myself becoming close to the woman I visit taught, a single mom who supported herself as an “exotic dancer.” I may have left Arizona feeling like no one “got me,” but I certainly had a lot of women who had my back.
The move to Boston in 1996 was easier but still took time. I was pregnant with my first and felt like all the women my age were part of some exclusive Mommy Club that I couldn’t join until the baby crowned. Yet I love to look back on my first month here and realize that it was two Exponent women that reached out to me. Judy Dushku was my first friend. She called to interview me for some RS New Sister Newsletter and we talked and laughed and said scandalous things (and have been ever since). The wonderful Linda Kimball showed up next, taking me on Boston adventures and initiating me into the world of Exponent II.
I loved these women, but once my son was born, I realized I had to make friends with other moms my age. So I turned to that trusty friend making institution once again, visiting teaching. I got a new assignment, a woman with a baby a few months younger than my son and made a decision: “She will be my friend.” I stalked her. Seriously. She had no choice but to be my friend. Now in many ways Becky and I were not a natural fit, but in figuring out those first years of mothering together, we formed a deep bond. I came to enjoy our differences as much as I embraced the places we overlapped.
In the 14 years I’ve been here, I have made the best friends of my life. Some of us are the “separated at birth” variety, but even more are really different creatures all together. Here’s something that’s so obvious that was a big insight to me: we are more than we appear to be. We have all heard President Kimball’s remark about how any devoted LDS man and woman could make a successful marriage. I don’t believe that, but I am convinced that any two LDS women could make a successful friendship if they give each other a real chance. For example, another unlikely friendship I formed is with the BFF of my husband’s ex-girlfriend. Who he dumped. For me. Seriously, we HATED each other at BYU and now we stay at hotels together so we can read important literature like Harry Potter and Twilight.
I love that among my friends are octogenarians and fifth graders, Southern Belles and @#!*% ’s Angels, strippers and Relief Society presidents (who sometimes are the same person—you know who you are!), Tibetan pacifists and George Bush loving Republicans. I am enriched by them all.
When it comes to ordering food, I’m a meat and potatoes gal. But when it comes to people, whether by choice, opportunity, or necessity, I have learned to branch out and cultivate all different kinds of friendships. So if you’re hungry for a friend, try something new. You may be surprised at how satisfying the friendship can be.