Friday, September 26, 2008

Dropping a line

I was expressly ignoring the suitcase explosion covering my room when I got home from work the other day.

I had just changed into yoga pants and a tank top to get down to business when I heard my cell phone ring downstairs. I think cell phone rings are like babies crying- you always know when it’s yours. There was no way I was going to make it downstairs in time, but my mom was in the kitchen and yelled up to me that it was my friend JP.

I literally dropped the cardigan and t-shirt I had just folded back into my open suitcase and bolted out of my room for the stairs. JP was one of my roommates and closest friends in college, and she got married about a year ago and now lives in San Diego with her husband. We don’t catch each other that often, so I grabbed my phone and mouthed “I’ll be down later” as I answered.

We got to chat as I halfway unpacked and then finally settled with my back against the wall so that my phone could charge after five minutes of incessant beeping. As is always the case, we fell back into conversation as easily as however long ago we last spoke, which had been a while.

I told her that I had been talking with one of our mutual friends, CC, over brunch recently, where we discussed boundaries we now have with married friends. It seems obvious, but it changes the dynamic of a friendship when one person gets married, and I’m guessing even when both are married. Topics that were freely breeched in the course of daily life in college suddenly take on new meanings and importance, and relationships with friends have to adjust accordingly.

As I told her this, I explained that I wanted both of us to be comfortable with me asking about her marriage in a noninvasive, “because I care about you and this is the most important thing in your life” kind of way. I just didn’t know how to phrase it directly, which is shocking, I know.

In the interest of privacy and the health of a marriage, there are areas that don’t need to be shared or talked about outside of a home. Marriage is like riding a bike or jumping out of a plane, you can watch someone else all day long but you’ll never know what it’s like until you experience it for yourself. As JP pointed out, it’s also a matter of trust between a husband and wife and fostering the communication between the two of you instead of taking your problems elsewhere.

I’ve come to find out that people slash girls in general have a lot of misconceptions about newlyweds. Like the rest of us, they’re trying to figure out and navigate a new path in life. “Why do we have bridesmaids and groomsmen in the first place?” JP asked, “why would I have wanted you to stand up with me on my wedding day if I didn’t want your love and prayers and support for my marriage?”

Good point.

Being a bridesmaid is more than wearing a strapless dress, holding flowers and smiling for pictures. Standing at the front of a congregation is saying that you support the people and the decision they are making and you are committing, yourself, to promoting their life together with your accountability, love and friendship.

(J & I on her wedding day. Kind of cheesy, kind of perfect.)

Some of my closest friends are such open books about everything going on in their lives, which is a quality I’ve recently come to admire. Not all of us are so naturally candid when it comes to our own lives and it’s refreshing to talk to someone who will talk openly, without second-guessing or worrying about over-sharing some part of their life.

I always seem to think that the first time I see one of my friends after they’ve gone on their honeymoon that I won’t recognize them. It’s not the case, obviously; they’ve changed their last name and have committed to living with a boy forever but that doesn't make them unrecognizable.

Life on the other side of the white picket fence is different, to be sure, but just because friends get married doesn’t mean they don’t need you anymore.

“A few years difference in the dates of our birth; the choice of one university over another; the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting. Any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, strictly speaking, there are no chances. Christ who said to his disciples, “you have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, you have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.”
-C.S. Lewis

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