Winter quarter, hooray! (That was a whole lot of sarcasm.) I hope you had a fantastic winter break. As for me, my break was mostly spent sleeping in, nearly being blown away (I hate the Santa Ana winds) and finding myself extremely bored. The lack of excitement during my winter break is the cause for me not having the most exciting column to kick off the quarter.
However, due to unfortunate circumstances, two weeks ago, and completely out of the blue, I found myself on a plane to New York with my sister. My grandmother’s best friend of over 60 years passed away on Christmas Day, and even better, my grandmother’s 85th birthday was approaching on New Year’s Eve. Since I didn’t want my grandma to be alone on her birthday, Liza and I surprised her at her front door (and risked giving her a heart attack). Thankfully, it was not a heart attack that occurred, but complete shock and utter joy.
Although our reason for this visit was not a positive one, I was so thrilled that we were able to make my grandma happier. I cannot imagine losing my best friend of more than six decades. Putting aside the fact that I am young enough to not worry about that yet, my thoughts became focused on friendship. As corny as that sounds (and I know it does), I spent 15 years of my life living in New York and once I moved, I lost touch with some of my closest friends. So like my dramatic self often does, I found a parallel between my grandmother’s situation and my own.
The night before I came back to California, three of my girlfriends and I, whom I had not seen for four years, went out for dessert. I was somewhat anxious to see them since the last time we had been together was when I returned for my former school’s prom. However, once we reunited, it was as if nothing had changed and I suppose that is what true friendship is.
It’s not feeling as if a connection is lost despite there being a significant amount of time spent apart. At the same time, it’s not necessary to make the effort to maintain the relationship.
Friendship is accepting one another’s flaws, all the while seeing the best in the person. I realized this last one while sitting for hours with my grandma, listening to her talk about how her friend Joan was ‘impossible, superficial and vain,’ followed by, ‘I am going to miss her so much.’
I feel like a senile old woman discussing the meaning of friendship and all, but sometimes it takes an actual event to open one’s eyes to what is important. Also, on the heels of a brand new year, I find it all the more appropriate.
Luckily, I do not feel as much pressure as I did in my first column last year; instead, I am choosing to focus on the people in my life that keep me (somewhat) sane and grounded. By seeing how much a person can mean to someone, as in the case of my grandma, I think it is something that we cannot afford to take for granted.
In a world where communication has become dependent on technology (excluding telephones), such as text messages, video chats (my new obsession), Skype (whatever that is, I have yet to catch onto that one) and the like, it is so easy to get lazy and not keep in touch with those closest to you. Maybe I am just speaking to myself at this point. Either way, I got a much needed slap in the face on this latest trip as to how crucial it is to maintain friendships and connections with the good people in your life, because the way I see it, they become more and more scarce as life progresses. I don’t mean to sound like Debbie Downer, but it seems to be true.
P.S. This column is dedicated to the fabulous Harriet Teicher.