Of course, the visit to Georgia wasn’t really about hiking or parks or Six Flags. I went to hang out with Dani because I missed our conversations, and the old simplicity of the early years of our friendship. Twenty years ago Dani befriended my awkward, prickly, socially inept eighteen-year-old self, and with that simple (and complicated) act of personal generosity I began to understand that there was so much more to life than what I’d seen of it so far. From Dani I got my first real glimpse of how people are supposed to treat one another. I already knew what kind of person I wanted to be, but Dani showed me how to start getting there. That’s not to say that we agreed about everything, because we certainly didn’t, but in a way that was a big part of the point: that people can hold wildly divergent points of view and still like and respect one another for who they are. That friends can disagree without being disagreeable, and without damaging their relationship. This was an extremely new concept for me at the time, but it’s been a marvelous blessing for me in the years since then, in all of my relationships.
So…fast forward. I now have a happy life, a happy marriage, happy kids. But a few months ago a vague sense of discontent started to creep in, and I didn’t know how to address it. When it got to the point where I was picking fights with Steve over meaningless crap, I knew something had do be done to fix things. But what?
Well, twenty years ago Dani helped me to get my ducks in a row. I figured maybe she could do it again. And if not, at least I’d get a nice change of scenery. ;^)
So I went to Georgia, and Dani and I spent two weeks talking about shoes and ships and sealing-wax and gardening and food and the true meaning of happiness. We agreed on some stuff and disagreed on a bunch of other stuff, just like the old days. We grokked that we’ve both changed a lot since we were teenagers (well, duh). And somewhere in there I found the fresh perspective that I was looking for. I realized that I’d been avoiding some issues in my life that really needed to be addressed, and stubbornly confronting some other issues that aren’t really worth my trouble at all. I realized how thankful I am for the good things in my world. Whatever it was that needed adjustment in my outlook got adjusted, and I (eventually) returned home with a new appreciation for my life and all its many blessings.
Good friends are a gift from God. I love you lots, Dani. :^)