I find friendship to be an interesting concept. You meet someone in any kind of setting, you say hello, and you may or may not end up with a lifelong friend. Or, in my case (and the case of most introverts), you meet someone in the kinds of settings where you feel comfortable (not usually in a large crowd), that someone says hello to you (because we introverts don’t usually start conversations), and you may or may not end up with a lifelong friend.
Over the years, I’ve made a few friends. Most of them back in grade school or high school. Some of us stay in touch via social media, and one or two of them through letters or cards or e-mails. But there is one friend I’ve made in my lifetime that was destined to happen. I know it was because when we met, she didn’t really like me.
It was 2006 when I applied for two different jobs with two different agencies. One was in the town where I was living and the other in a town about twenty minutes away by car. Both were interesting positions, but I really wanted the one closer to my house. Partly because it was closer to my house and partly because it sounded like something that would be a better fit for me.
I landed an interview for both positions. I’m pretty good at writing resumes and guarantee people an interview when I write theirs. Actually nailing the interview and getting the job is up to the interviewee. I did not get the more interesting job.
Instead I was hired for a job as a program manager for a small youth center. I did not expect to get it. I’d shown up for my interview, expecting it to be with one person, and found myself smack dab in the middle of half a dozen folks who wanted to chat about my resume and my skills. A little heads up would have been nice.
For the record, I knew nothing about managing a youth center program. I’m not fun, field trips are not something I enjoy going on, and up until that point, I’d never managed anything. But the pay was decent and I was interested in working in an environment that was less intervention and more prevention based. The commute was a bonus because it meant I could listen to the music full blast on the drive there and back.
And then I met her. The woman who also worked at the youth center. The same woman who later informed me she had applied for the same job I’d just been given. Yeah…I felt tense about it too.
Because I don’t make friends easily. Talking to people is hard work when you don’t have much to say. It’s even harder to make friends when your opening line is something along the lines of “oh, they should have hired you instead of me.” And they should have, she’d worked there long before my name was ever thrown into the pile of applicants. She’d practically put the entire program together from the start.
But it is in the company of a good friend that the heart finds a home. She was (and still is) good company.
We worked together four afternoons a week. It was our joint effort that bought snacks for the youth, cooked food for the youth, held fundraisers for the program, and took the kids on outings. We talked to them about their present day situations, their futures, their fears, and all of their zany ideas. Together we taught them how to celebrate Thanksgiving with fine china, threw some of the best parties full of clean fun and games, and brainstormed ideas over more cups of Starbucks coffee than I can count.
The first thing she ever gave me was an apple. I remember the day clearly. She came into the cluttered office where I was trying to learn something about this new job when she walked in, said hello, and offered me a shiny red apple. I don’t like red apples.
No one had ever given me one before though and I knew she was making an effort because I was in the position she should have had and she was taking the high road. The first thing she ever gave me was an apple. After that, she gave me tons of good ideas, advice, encouragement, and really great company.
When I left that job nine months later for my grad school internship, it was a bittersweet moment. For someone who had no clue what I was doing when I accepted the job there, I not only learned a lot about program management, but I learned a lot about what it means to foster a lifelong friendship. Well, a friendship that blossomed into sisterhood.
We live far away from one another now. A few thousand miles. I miss her, though not as badly as I thought I would. Because we are always connected. Whether it’s a text or a phone call or a letter, she’s always there when I need her. We laugh and talk and share our lives with one another almost as if we still worked in the same building.
I shouldn’t have gotten that job in 2006. I wasn’t prepared for it and I wasn’t the most qualified applicant. She was. She’d paid her dues and served her time as someone’s volunteer and later someone’s assistant for far too long. It should have been hers for the taking; the interview merely a formality because she was already well known in the community and to those associated with the youth center.
And every day since then, I give thanks that she didn’t get it. If she had, we wouldn’t have met. I’m thankful I don’t like red apples. If I had, I likely wouldn’t have appreciated the kindness she was showing me that day. I appreciate the fact that I don’t make friends easily and tend to feel like an outsider to family members I grew up with. If life had been different, I might not have realized there was a sister waiting for me.
Do you have a lifelong friend? A BFF? Someone who has been a blessing because of his or her friendship? How did you meet? #friendship #sisterhood