Ever wonder how Mary and I know each other? You are not alone. We’ve both been asked this by different people, and as I have moved to the East Coast and she remains in the Midwest, I expect this question to come up more often.
However you follow this blog, you will enjoy this story. It is one of persistence in making a new friendship flourish. I believe every woman needs a good friend nearby, but making them is not that easy once you are grown up. Is it?
My mother in law met Mary at the bar of the restaurant my husband owned then. It was early 2008, I had gotten married a few months earlier, and had been in Manhattan, Kan. for a few short months. My mother-in-law really wanted me to be happy in there, and she thought Mary would be a good person to know. She asked Mary for her business card, then snuck it on my hand and introduced me to her.
I was mortified and felt so awkward, my accent probably making an appearance as I tried to politely say hello. Mary was graceful, friendly and welcoming. Oh how I wanted to feel more natural in this situation but I just couldn’t. It is not in my personality.
I dismissed the suggestion of calling Mary to be friends, that was just weird to me, but as a former reporter, calling a source was easy, so I called Mary to talk about her then business. I interviewed her, wrote a story about her for a local magazine and in the process became friendly with her.
We stayed in touch after the article ran, we went out a couple of times, but I probably did not make a great impression. While I know I am friendly and outgoing, I am much more comfortable one on one than in groups. I am also not much of a nightlife person, and dinner and drinks with a group is often how you get to know new friends.
I left Manhattan for an entire year shortly after meeting Mary, and when I came back I had to reintroduce myself to the town and try to make friends again. Mary was there, as welcoming as ever. She invited me to a book club that was just starting and we slowly became closer. Funny, one of the first books we read was about this young woman trying to make friends in a new city.
Both our husbands have odd work schedules, so it was easy for us to meet at times when other people are usually with family. However, I always felt weird texting Mary to hang out. I felt that someone who was so friendly and knew so many people couldn’t possibly want to hang out with me. The weird thing is that had I been single and wanting to hang out with a guy I had clicked with, I wouldn’t think twice about texting or calling. With another woman, I felt needy.
It is so hard to make friends when we get older. At least in my case, I felt very self-conscious for not having friends and needing to make new ones. Every one is busy and they have their own lives and we tend to think that no one needs another friend. But really, who doesn’t need a friend? At the same time there is a stigma, whether real or perceived, about being friendless. In so many ways, I feel like so many stages of life are like high school all over again.
After a meeting with our book club, Mary and I talked about this. In turns out she had had the same feelings. “Why would she?” I asked my husband, “She is awesome!”
I guess I had forgotten that I too could be awesome. I may not be super friendly at first and you definitely need to get to know me to see that I can be funny, but I have made friends before. In fact, I have friends around the world. Making new ones couldn’t be that difficult.
Calling Mary and making plans with her became a lot easier after that. And although not every meeting we had was picture perfect, BFF movie material, we had fun and our friendship was growing. We did simple things like grabbing coffee, going on walks and having lunch together- I leave the nightlife for her more fun friends. When she bought a house near our apartment, I enjoyed being able to pop by her house and walk around the neighborhood.
When I found out I was pregnant, Mary was one of the first people I told, and I told her in person, over coffee. I felt I owed it to her because a couple of months before we had talked about her struggle with infertility and my miscarriage a year earlier. I wanted her to hear from me, and not from someone else around our small town. Part of being a friend is respecting each other, and being careful with their feelings.
Mary was happy for me, and a few months later was kind enough to throw me a baby shower- something I am not sure I would have been able to do in her place, honestly. When my son was born, she came to visit with a smile and a wonderful dinner. She did the same when my second child was born.
Nine months after I had my first baby, Mary welcomed her son, Oliver, and I was honored to be involved in the planning of her baby shower. With young children in tow, we bonded on a different level, taking the kids to the playground and music class, and having a weekly play group with two other friends.
During a play date with our kids, both of us trying to keep our lives together, we realized that our exchanges about parenting, friendship and life in general helped us be better and made our lives easier. We thought maybe together we could help others. LemonWater was born.
Over the following year, we exchanged text messages, emails and phone calls about this blog and our posts, and we have become even closer.
Although we now live thousands of miles away, I feel Mary so close to me. It is almost as if we have known each other for a lifetime, when in reality is has been about six years. What makes our friendship work, other than the fact that we are in the same place in life with our four young kids, is that while we are very different, we have very similar basic values. Family, friends, fun. We both also try to do the best we can but we try to not be bitter about the struggle that life often is.
What I love about this friendship is that I don’t ever have to pretend I am anything but who I am. Mary does not judge, she is supportive and always has a smile. This is the kind of friendship you want to have.
I could not be happier to have met her. She has changed my life for the better. I admire many things about her, but her courage, kindness and positive outlook are my favorite. I wouldn’t mind having some of her outgoing personality, but lucky for me, being her friend has taught me to how to be friendly with strangers.
Every woman needs a good friend nearby. If you don’t have one, go out and find one.
By the way, shout-out to my MIL. As awkward as I felt when she gave me Mary’s card with a suggestion that I call her, I could not be more grateful to her for it. As cheesy as this may be, she’s not only raised the love of my life, but she also found me a best friend.