Victoria Fedden «What Matters In a Friendship»
I don’t care if your house is a mess. I will move the laundry off the couch, sit down and help you fold it while we laugh about how much we hate putting the clean clothes away. I don’t care about your big, slobbering, rambunctious dog. I will accept his kisses and toss his tennis ball. It’s also fine that you don’t have any food in your fridge since I ate before I came anyway. I like your cheap coffee and your microwave popcorn too.
I don’t care if you go out of the house looking like that or if you bought your purse at Payless or if every single piece of clothing you own came from the Goodwill. Likewise, if you shop exclusively at Neiman Marcus, I can handle that too. We will both survive if your roots are showing, if you have a weird mole, a hideous and regretful tattoo and if you’ve recently gained fifteen pounds and none of it is in your boobs.
I don’t care what you eat or don’t eat or if that is organic or even if it isn’t. I don’t care how you feed your children or if you sleep with them, push them in strollers, let them watch Sponge Bob or if you could only breastfeed for a week. I won’t judge if sometimes you are so tired that you give your children chicken nuggets for dinner, put on a Tinkerbell movie, pray they fall asleep early and make yourself a margarita because you’re so damned tired and over it all. I have been there too and you know what? A few parabens and food dyes once in a while are not the end of the world.
If your child is fussy and throws a royal fit when we are out in public, I don’t care. We all have bad days and of course I will hold your baby while you take the toddler to the bathroom only to find that he has already peed his pants.
I don’t care if you have a dead-end job or if you haven’t yet found your passion. It doesn’t matter to me if you go to yoga twice a day or church once every three or four years and only to make your grandmother happy. I do that too. One day you will finish your novel or start your business and I will be there clapping and grinning and shouting with joy at your success even if we are ninety-seven by the time you get there.
You can cry to me. Tell me about what an ass your spouse has been and how your mother won’t stop tearing into you about each and every little thing and how sometimes you wish you could just get in the car and start driving and leave everyone behind. For a little while. I have these fantasies too. Mine involve a dark, cold, hotel room where I can sleep and order room service for three days straight while watching every trashy show on TV that I can find.
It’s okay that you can’t cook and that you haven’t thrown me a fancy dinner party with homemade tablescapes that you saw on Pinterest. We can get takeout. There’s this amazing, little, cheap Thai place on the corner. You’ll love it.
I don’t think you’re a loser because you made a stupid mistake and lost your job and now you fry chicken for a living. I’m proud that you went back to school and followed your heart to finally get a degree in what you love instead of what your dad loved. Who cares if you’re thirty-nine when you graduate?
None of these things matter.
This is all I care about, if we are friends:
Are you kind?
I care that you are kind.
Do you mean well even when things don’t always work out? I care about that.
I care that you love, that you are friendly to little kids and servers in restaurants. I need you to be nice to animals, even if they are ugly and whether or not you choose to eat them.
I care that you don’t hurt with your hands or your words. I care that when you mess up, you admit it and that you can apologize sincerely, because of course, everyone makes a poor choice once in a while. We slip sometimes. The ability to recognize our wrongs are learn from them is more important than being perfect.
Your politics don’t matter to me. Your religion is insignificant, but I care that your words and actions aren’t based in hate. I care that you can tolerate people who are different. I care about empathy and compassion.
I care that in the midst of the noise and clutter of our messy lives, that in the tiny moments we find to connect there is meaning, there are smiles even through tears, that we part feeling just a little bit stronger, a little more hopeful.
That we are better off because of our friendship, that we are not alone – nothing else matters.