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Posts tagged ‘friendship’

It’s not always about the food

Every month I meet with four other women for lunch, at a previously chosen destination somewhere in Portland. We call ourselves the “library ladies”, due to the fact that we first met during the monthly book club at the Central Library. As we made small talk one day before the book club discussion started, we soon discovered that we were all transplants from other states. So in order to get to know our new city better, as well as get to know one another better, we decided to meet once a month for a lunchtime adventure.

This has gone on for about a year now, and it has been so much fun as we find new and interesting places around Portland, with a wide variety of all types of food. We have eaten everything from Vietnamese to Mexican to Chinese, and of course the regular fare of what would be considered American food. And the venues have varied from the simplicity of ordering food at the counter of a local taqueria and finding a place to sit, to lunching in some rather elegant places such as the more upscale hotel restaurants around town. And as much as we go to enjoy the different foods and atmosphere of different restaurants, I seem to find that our monthly get together is really more about friendship and not the food.

Our latest foray took us to the Portland City Grill, which is on the 30th floor of an office building in downtown Portland. I could feel my jaw drop in amazement as we were led to our table, in a dining room completely surrounded by windows. The view was spectacular! Luckily the restaurant wasn’t terribly busy at that time, so I was able to grab my camera and run around looking like a crazed tourist, trying to get the best picture of Portland I could without bothering too many people. The service was great, the ambiance lovely and relaxing, and the camaraderie between friends was delightful. And although the food was good, I wasn’t as wowed as I thought I might be, for the price that I payed. And the part that I just had to laugh at was dessert; I was expecting so much more. I ordered a lunch special that came with “Brandon’s Ultimate Dessert Selection”, and I was ready for my sweet tooth to be charmed. But I was more like shocked when the Ultimate Dessert came, in the guise of an eclair – that’s right, just a plain old eclair, like the kind you can get for a buck at just about any bakery. It tasted good, but not in an ultimate kind of way.

So I looked at our lunch date that day as more than just going out to eat. It was about getting a bit more dolled up than usual, sitting in a fancy schmancy place and just soaking it all in. It was about the breathtaking view of my beautiful Portland from high in the sky, and watching a red tailed hawk soar right past the window by our table. And most of all it was about spending precious time with friends. And no matter how overpriced and overrated I may think the food itself was, the time spent in friendship was worth every penny.

The view from our table at Portland City Grill

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Discovering mindfulness in a game of Scrabble

A friend and I spent the better part of a morning recently at Starbucks, having coffee and playing Scrabble, a game that I have to believe every writer enjoys – it is all about words! What could be better than that? And the best part was that my dear friend gave me the lovely red vintage box containing the retro Scrabble board and those beautiful wooden tiles of letters – the only things missing were the bag to hold the tiles and one of the wooden tile holders. She uncovered this treasure at Goodwill for only $2.00, but soon found that her family does not share her love of the game like she does. So in a lovely gesture of friendship, she gave it to me, after learning about my love of what has to be the greatest game ever. I used to have my own Scrabble set, but it was grudgingly sacrificed in the move to Portland, as I pared down to the bare necessities. So many memories attached to that game, as I would always make my children play Scrabble with me at Thanksgiving and Christmas – and surprisingly, I never won! But fear not, I made sure that my daughter bought a brand new Scrabble set, so we could play last Christmas when I went back to visit – and as always, I lost once more!

But today my brain must have been firing on all its cylinders, or maybe it was the coffee buzz that spurred me on to an amazing score of 283 – my all time Scrabble high! I was unstoppable, as I gathered up 48 points alone for the word “quirk” – what a quirk it was to be able to even spell that word out on the board. I gathered up a slew of points with silly little words like “gem” and “zoo”, using a strategic mind I didn’t even know I possessed, scoping out places where I could rake in triple letter scores with those crazy eight or ten point letters like “z” or “q”. I challenged my friend on a word or two, and she in turn informed me of an illegal Scrabble move that I was unaware of, all the while thoroughly enjoying ourselves with some friendly competition.

And as we pondered our brains for words, and laughed at the silliness of words we thought we could use, like “yo”, as in yo-yo or Yo!, a favorite rap phrase, time just seemed to slip away. We forgot to talk about all the things going on in our lives, the things that are of a more dramatic nature than trying to figure out how to use up the last letters you are holding of c, j, l, and r, so you don’t have to subtract them from your score. It felt good to get lost in something so innocent for a time, not thinking about why I haven’t heard back about the job I recently interviewed for, or getting caught up in any worrisome fears about the future. It felt good to escape for a time in something I love, the words; and I was reminded of the healing nature of mindfulness.

Learning what friendship is all about

I had sadly wiped the slate of friendship clean throughout the years, focusing all my energies on my husband, my children and my work. The few friends I had seemed to slip away like sand through my fingers, as I blatantly ignored them in favor of my family. My introverted nature didn’t help matters, and I found the only friend I really had to do things with was my husband. Luckily I did manage to keep in touch with a high school friend, Denise, who lived out of state – and I was a poor friend to her, not responding to her invitations to visit. Bless her though, she kept our friendship going even though I was such a weak participant. I found myself becoming so envious of women who had a close circle of female friends. I wanted to be one of those women.

Mistakenly, I thought that having my husband as my only friend was enough. But as our children grew older and didn’t need or want my attention so much, I saw how limited my world of connections with others really was. And I also saw that my spouse and I were really not on the same page in so many ways, and we divorced. Now I was starting over from scratch, trying to remember not only how to make friends, but how to be a good friend. And I have learned so much.

I have learned that sometimes we come together as friends, for reasons unknown, only to find ourselves drifting apart from each other. But that is the way of life at times, and even though we don’t connect with those friends like we used to, they are still a connection in our hearts. I have learned not to burn so many bridges, as life is an ebb and flow, and I may flow back to old friends.

I have learned that we may seek out friends on the basis of shared interests, and it is always a joy to share our passions with one another. When I moved to Portland, these shared interests were a great way to meet people – the book club, the knitting group, the walking group. But as I began to make closer friends from members of these different groups, I realized that sometimes it is so true that opposites attract! In my mind, I had to find friends who liked the same music as me, who followed the same spiritual practice, who had similar lifestyles. How wrong I was on all those counts! I am passionate about music; most of my Portland friends listen to talk radio. But because they do, we have some enlightening discussions. My friend Vanessa in Minnesota loves her political science classes; I haven’t read a newspaper for years now, and I only do so when it is an election year. I find that because of all our unique interests, it opens up the gateway for learning, for discussion, for discovering new possibilities for my life.

Now I realize what friendship is all about. Friendship comes on many different levels.  Some friendships have deeper bonds that allow the sharing of more intimate thoughts, and there are casual friendships that are all about sharing lunch together once a month. Each type of friendship is equally important in our lives. The bond of friendship is one that goes beyond the superficial aspect of shared interests. It is a bond that comes from connecting with the true self of each person, a resonating from soul to soul. My friends are like a beautiful bouquet of flowers – different varieties of lovely blooms that bring me joy in all their unique ways.

My friend Denise & I with the “umbrella man” in Portland

My Minnesota friend Vanessa & I

Out to lunch with the “library ladies”

Age is just a number, that I don’t always remember

I have a friend who’s birthday is in a couple of days, but for the life of me I really don’t know exactly how old she is going to be. I know it’s 40- something, and does it really matter? I’ll probably ask her, she will understand. Now if she were in her 20’s, I would imagine my inability to remember her exact age would be considered a slight in our friendship. But honestly, when asked my age, there are times when I start to do the math in my head before I can answer – take the year it is now, subtract the year I was born and recall the month it is too, to figure in if I add another year or not. And I’m not slow on the uptake, I’m not losing my mind, not just yet anyway! But at this stage of my life, 50-something, age really doesn’t mean a whole heck of alot. All I know is that number one, I am glad to be getting older. I most certainly do not want to relive the days of my youth in any way, shape or form. Who wants to make those mistakes all over again? No, I am gathering what they call “wisdom”, and it is very good to have. And number two, I like the eras that I grew up in, and do not wish to be a young person in the new millennium – I’m used to my old ways, thank you very much! And number three, I can say with all honesty that I am not afraid of death. I may be a bit leery of the process of dying – does it hurt? I hope it is quick and painless, what we all wish for. But I believe that life goes on after this “life” on earth, so what is there to be afraid of? And from what I hear, it’s a pretty cool place too. So I welcome each year that I can add on, more wisdom, more experiences, more love and life to gather here until I find out what’s on the other side of life.

Age

The blooms in the blue vase

Transition

Softness of the petals

Drying

But still bright

With color

Some hold their heads high

Others become weary

Heavy and drooping

Leaves fade

From youthful dark green

To the yellowing of age

Transition of form

Yet within each bloom

Life continues to radiate

 

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