Sunday, August 7, 2011

How Many Of Us Have Them?

From Stevie Wonder letting us know “What Friends Are For” to Biz Markie warning us when we hear they’re “Just A Friend” music has educated us on the need and importance of friendship. Friends are the family we choose as opposed to the ones we are given. They allow us to express sides of ourselves that aren’t often shown and are usually the influence that has us trying something new.

I can say that I have been fortunate to have met some incredible people and have had some amazing friendships, most I still maintain. I didn’t fully appreciate how important they have been in my life, until I got older. When we are young, friendships are simple. “You like Transformers and Spider-Man? Me too!” And a friendship was formed. I can however also remember one of my best friends growing up came from our initial dislike for one another. It was 1st grade, I remember like it was yesterday…

He had just moved from out of state and transferred into my class. We had a lot of the same interest, maybe too many. We were so similar that we “had” to fight. After a quick altercation of two shoves, no punches thrown, and 5 minutes of circling each other, we were cool. Our friendship had been forged in battle. From then on we were unstoppable teammates or arch enemies. (Depending upon how kick ball teams were picked) Our friendship/rivalry helped to fuel my already forming competitive spirit. Truth be told, his love for the Mets is what made me a Yankees fan. Thank you for that. Yes, it was that deep.

As I got older I would make friends with many different kinds of people. Being surrounded by different cultures and backgrounds I couldn’t help but expand my understanding and way of thinking. Learning about foods, music and customs became so common, I was no longer even aware that I was doing it. I may have taken 2 years of Spanish in high school, but I learned more in my friend Miguel’s kitchen with his mother, than I ever did out of a book in class.

Now I say friends are the family we choose because I have made some friends that I view as being as much a part of my family as those I share blood with. Those types of bonds were so necessary in the process of becoming who I am now. Granted some of those friendships may have had an expiration date, they were important. It’s funny to me when I hear from my friends that I “know everybody”, because I don’t. I just appreciate everyone who has been in my life, and I refuse to forget them. Whether the experience was good or bad, everyone I have ever encountered in some way affected the sculpting of who I am. For that, even my “enemies” have a place of relevance in my mind.

I know some people that say they only need a few really great friends. That’s all they want and need. I understand the concept. It usually comes after having been burned. Fear is however a horrible reason to not try something. Just don’t close yourself to the idea of knowing or growing with new people because mentally you feel you’ve reached your quota or are afraid of being hurt. In this day and age you can’t just let everybody “in”, I get that. Just remember that when you close yourself off, it is you that stops growing. Others just don’t have the time or want to maintain multiple friendships. “It’s too much work”, and I understand that as well. Hey, Bert had Ernie, Will had Grace, even Tom had Jerry; sometimes one is enough.

Family may be blood and are often expected to be there for us through the thick and thin…usually out of obligation. We’re “supposed” to be there for our family. This moment is for all the ones that are there for us…just because. Our friends get us through failed relationships, school, family issues, they help us get jobs & sometimes offer places for us to say. I know I have had to depend on my friends more than a time or two in my life and I appreciate them all to this day.

Whodini put it best; “Friends. How many of us have them?” Well I’m thankful to say that I’ve got quite a few great ones…

And to my old buddy…I’ve got $20 on the Yankees if you’re interested.

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