Friends on Friendship

I understand myself through my friendships, the dearest ones are closest to my heart, but the passing ones, seeming momentary encounters also deepen my understanding of my place in this world. I'm so grateful for them all. Here are three of my close friends speaking on friendship.

Cherished hug from Nova at my wedding reception. She flew in from Mexico to be there. 

Cherished hug from Nova at my wedding reception. She flew in from Mexico to be there. 

Nova
I first saw this magical being, late in the evening, at a country fair. She was twelve years old and captivated everyone around her with larger than life stories, gesticulations and movements that made me question the reality of her presence. She is so full of life and truth. We became inseparable for many years, lived wildly in the South and shared a tiny room together, with our friend Jude, in a crazy loft in Tribeca. 

Friendship: A love poem

My friends glow
larger than life, 
we speak with eyes,
and infinite variation of smile - 
an effortless language.
The rhythm: intuition.

Vivid colors,
Collapsing walls,
I am spellbound, wrapt. 

I am fearless.
I clasp your hand, I cannot fall.
We are masters of our universe.
This moment: our work of art.

Painted in light, free from shadow
in awe of your grace,
the electricity that we create: my potent fuel.

Perfect is replaceable, replicable.
But you? Never. 

 

 

Dominique
We met at the tiny local coffee shop four years ago when my son was six months old and her son was a couple months younger. I loved her as soon as I saw her and felt thrilled at the enthusiasm we shared from the very beginning of our friendship. Those early months of motherhood are so tiring, a new relationship that gives energy is an unexpected treasure.

To me, a friend is someone who sees you with all your gifts, contradictions, weaknesses, blindspots, and strength and loves you without needing to erase or hide from that complexity. Equally important, a friend can say what you need to hear, ideally in a moment when you can hear and bear it. And real friends are willing to roll through sometimes bruising each other's feelings in the process of real, committed, loving communication.
 

 

Jenny
Mother's Day weekend I met her and her five day old daughter. Frequenting the tiny coffee shop and always having to negotiate getting through the tight space with a baby led me to bump into Jenny and talk with her about the most important things in my very new motherhood. Four years later we gravitate towards each other and I find our friendship deeply grounding and supportive. She expresses so much strength and care in all she does. I'm not sure how to express how grateful I am to have her as a role-model.
 

A friend is:

Joy, Inspiration, Laughter, Family, Embrace, Concern, Reassurance, Love, Forgiveness, Understanding, and Kindness

There are a few friends that I have known for my whole life who can remember my first crush and my skinny awkward nerdiness; the people that still always keep me honest and grounded. There are the friends who became my weekly support network complete with wine and wisdom after my relationship ended; the care and love that made it possible to evolve. There are my colleagues at work—people who I might not see for 6 months or a year as we fly the friendly skies but with whom I share a common passion and a history of traversing similar paths to our current lives.  There are my real and true grown-up friends that chose me every bit as much as I chose them; the beautiful smart talented fun women that both welcomed me to my chosen city Brooklyn and supported me in my surprise pivot to motherhood. These friends are the women who always make time for coffee, for a phone call, to sit together in a park, to pick up my child, or drop off flowers, or fly in for a visit, or open their fold-out couch for me and these are the friends who I hope with all my heart that I live up to the wondrous gift of their friendship. I want to support and cherish and celebrate these friendships every day and through all the joys and turmoil of our daily lives.  With friends I feel like the better version of myself, the one who listens more patiently, feels more empathetically, learns more willingly, forgives more easily, and loves more self-lessly.  To live a life amongst friends is to constantly and actively and generously be available.  I live in gratitude every day for friendship.

 

Friends on Friendship

I am so grateful for the incredible friends I have made along the way. I asked a few of them to reflect on friendship.
Here are some highlights:

Lila and I preparing for a music video that was made as a plea for Maya to return from India. We learned leotards and pregnancy are a great combination. c. 2012

Lila and I preparing for a music video that was made as a plea for Maya to return from India. We learned leotards and pregnancy are a great combination. c. 2012

Lila (We met when Lila performed at the Subterranean Arthouse.)
I wish my heart was grand enough to feel a friend in every being. Until then, there are grand people I enjoy calling friends. People who share and listen patiently, in equal parts. Who teach kindness, mindfulness and presence in their act of presence. And who humbly remind me to be humble. A line from a song I wrote recently in evaluation of a fair-weather friendship :  "Are you a friend who really cares if you only say what I want to hear?/you held me up but you didn't lift me up." Real friends don't feed one's delusions, but rather elevate the wholesome parts of oneself. Friendship over time has the quality of a shared journey. I love these friends that I know I can see, even once a year--after almost 30 years even, and the spirit of love and play is still in tact. And the new friends, who we access at important transitions in life--being pregnant together, moving to a new place, a new career--are certainly the joyful faces along this path of impermanence. I’m living abroad this year, and watching my daughter make friends in Italy when we first arrived was a beautiful reminder that friendship has its own language. In a preternatural moment she coined the term "Destination of Voices" or "play language," describing that she could listen in Italian, reply in English and all was understood. This is helpful for me, somewhat of a word addict, but slow to pick up a second language--remembering that the trust that comes from being present with people can simply involve sitting, smiling, dancing, playing, eating (here in Italy they say, "Have we eaten together?," as in, "Do we know each other?"). I'm grateful for the ways in which technology has allowed my silver and gold friends from all over the world to be together. And even without it, space between us feels like the sweet silence between friends who are comfortable enough together to let there be quiet, as we sit side by side on the big Earth, and breath in and out. 

Maya (We met through Nicole, my business partner at the Subterranean Arthouse.)
I think with all of my good friendships it's been love at first sight, but without all the crazy effects of sexual chemistry.

Stephanie (We met in 8th grade.)
Once a friend, always a friend! 
What once connected two people as a childhood friend can be very different as an adult. But what keeps them together is a not-so-simple fact, LOVE!

It might be the love you have for them as a person; recognizing all the good they give to this crazy world. It could be the love of the memories you shared with that person, the laughter shared, hard times you’ve gotten through together, secrets that no matter how distant you've become remain secret between just you and that person. Friendships are personal and evoke feelings within your spirit about yourself, or the way that person knows just what to do to lift you up on a bad day. Maybe it’s just watching them flow through their lives that brings you a calmness which you crave and is contagious. Some friendships are unbalanced and those seem to fizzle out in my experience. I truly believe you have to put in the energy you take or you drain the bank until nothing is left.

One of my favorite Wonder year quotes regarding friendship is, “Some people pass through your life and you never think about them again. Some you think about and wonder what ever happened to them. Some you wonder if they ever wonder what happened to you. And then there are some you wish you never had to think about again. But you do.”

Andrea (We were neighbors in Berkeley and met when our babies were brand new.)
It wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles from Berkeley that I realized how much I love and need my friends. My best friends and I went to college together, lived together and started our lives as working professionals and young adults together. We’ve experienced the past 16 years together and that has forever bonded us. Even though we were all in the Bay Area, as our lives changed and we all got married and had kids, life would often get in the way and get-togethers would get pushed to the side or cancelled (mostly due to someone’s kid getting sick!). We took for granted how close we were to each other.

A year and a half ago I moved quite suddenly with my husband and son to Los Angeles for my husband’s job. We had 3 weeks to pack our house and move, and I didn’t make the time for a proper goodbye fest with my friends. I was nervous about the move and was only a few weeks pregnant with our second son.

Getting our new life set up in L.A. took time but I got in a routine and was relatively happy except for one thing – I didn’t have any friends in L.A. I didn’t realize it when I agreed to move, but it is incredibly hard to make friends as an adult, especially for someone who’s a shy introvert like myself! I often felt isolated and alone the first year as I didn’t have anyone to talk to during the day when I was home with my 3 year old. Sure there were the other moms at my son’s preschool and the moms in my Mommy and Me classes, but to truly build a friendship and relationship with someone is hard when life revolves around your children’s schedules and no one has the time to meet for coffee, see a movie, or really do anything where kids aren’t demanding your attention. And unless someone’s a recent transplant like myself, most people have their core group of friends already. That being said, I’ve made a couple of friends whose company I enjoy but it will never be the same as spending time with my friends at home.

 

On Friendship

Welcome to Parallel Coasts - a blog about creativity, community, and place rooted in a long and beautiful friendship I’ve had with Casey Atre. We grew up together in Louisiana and now live on opposite coasts. Casey lives in Brooklyn, and I live in Berkeley. 

Casey and I met on the first day of sixth grade. My parents had decided to move me from public to private school because I was starting to "act up." They felt that a small class size, more teacher attention, and greater academic rigor would provide the support I needed. At this new school, there were twenty-four kids in my grade. Many of them had been together since kindergarten. I was both excited and terrified. On the first day of school, Casey sat next to me and oriented me to who was who. We became fast friends. From the beginning, we had much in common: our phone numbers were only one digit different; we both had new-agey moms; we shared a sense of adventure. In the decades since our meeting, there have been many moments where we have noticed continued parallels. 

As teenagers we spent so much time at each other's houses. Through Casey, I gained a second mother and little brother. Together we learned to drive, joined the Explorer Scouts, made movies, got into trouble with teachers, tried pot for the first time, snuck out to New Orleans, studied bharatanatyam, shared family trips, and spent many nights at the local Waffle House. We supported each other through both our mother's diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis, rented a house in New Orleans after college, spent time with our other amazing friends, hosted crazy parties, moved apart to try new cities, met each other's boyfriends, went to each other's weddings, met each other's kids (2 boys each), made plans for family trips, brought our kids to Mardi Gras, made plans to start a blog! Born from this treasured friendship, this blog is place for us to reflect, document, and share as we engage in our parallel lives as friends, mothers and artists.

Claire and Casey in High School c.1995

Claire and Casey in High School c.1995


Casey creates brilliant solutions for problems I hadn’t even noticed existed.
Casey is up for the adventure.
Casey is an entrepreneur and inventor.
Casey has a great capacity to notice subtlety.
Casey appreciates beauty.

 

 

On Friendship

Love is (beautiful, messy, unclear, camouflaged, unsettling, healing) infinite. 

Friendship is the worldly nature of love, often grounding and contextualizing. 

 

In sixth grade, on the first day of school, I met Claire. Our initial interaction was, as Claire describes it, my orientation of the classroom and short bios of the twenty-four students, a run down of twelve year old habits and quirks. We soon realized our phone numbers were only one digit apart, 2206 and 2806. It took an hour to find her home for the first time, a mile drive from my house but with no real landmarks to distinguish drive ways. Neither of our parents let us have sugar yet we both had a sweet tooth, we had long brown hair and matching eye color, our liberal backgrounds challenged our friends’, and we both had rampant daydreams that enlivened us and unhinged our expectations of ourselves. 

In 9th grade we got kicked out of European History class for throwing invisible energy balls across the room, at each other. The next year when we transferred to the local public high school, curfews became negotiations, we dodged reprimands from the other’s parent, felt the constraints put on us by our families and each other. Our friend circle grew. Jumping the fence and swimming in the out-of-town neighbor’s pool, we laughed and floated through the summer. House sitting, Andygator, dancing in a room full of records on the back porch with the ceiling fan cooling the humid air. 

Claire’s siblings went off to school and her mother’s illness became apparent. Our late nights took us to different places. We heard the other missed curfew and paper notes gave coded explanations. We lost contact. The early morning after graduation we drove together to the Holiday Inn pool and the sun rose as we swam and talked about the directions we were headed. We remembered. In Boulder we watched movies over Thanksgiving dinner. My mother called and told me tomorrow she would find out if she had this or that, that was painfully familiar, Claire’s mother also had Multiple Sclerosis. There was no longer a safe remove from what I had seen Claire and her family go through. 

We convened in New York City, I worked in a firm and Claire studied. When she left for California I was shocked, it was such an obvious choice that I didn’t expect her to make. She came back with her fiancé to stand with my family in my wedding and a year later I, pregnant with my first child, walked in her wedding. River was born, her first son Arlo was born, my Luc was born and her Avery was born. Motherhood took preference over our creative professions, and the challenges of being creative makers within a new set of expectations and demands can be isolating, even within our active and engaging cities. Distance felt great and we decided we wanted to collaborate on something that would bring us together. It feels good to prioritize friendship, again.

My tea fortune

My tea fortune

c. 1993. Claire and Casey at 8th grade graduation.

c. 1993. Claire and Casey at 8th grade graduation.

c. 2008

c. 2008

September 25, 2011. Wedding in NYC.

September 25, 2011. Wedding in NYC.

Claire is present in her smile.
Claire is aware of other sensitive beings and desires to nurture them.
Claire expresses herself through movement and engages in a playful and joyous way.
Claire says my thoughts are five or six months ahead of her but I think she's nine years ahead of me.
Claire's deep understanding of herself makes her spontaneity deliberate and beautiful.