After the rush of a crazy month, the final days of December slow down. They seem very dark and the rush of traffic is more a murmur as people settle in their homes and begin the reflection leading up to "the New Year." I consider this time of year the healing time we need after dashing about fulfilling wishes, attending parties and events, and merging our work lives with the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season.
But I too pause, set some resolutions and reflect. Mostly, I think about the people who have come into my life over the year and the places we have traveled together. There is a saying that Flavia used on a card I bought many years ago that springs to mind ... "Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Others stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never ever the same."
She doesn't say what happens to those people who "stay for a while" and leave the footprints on our hearts. I figure there are those that leave footprints and disappear while others hang around ... either in the direct spotlight or in the wings. Depends on the relationship and the other stuff that life brings us.
I found myself really thinking about those people. The ones who have stayed and walked with me and still walk with me ... even those who have moved out of my life either due to distance or just the ebbs and flows of the world in which we live. No matter. I realize and celebrate that their mark is still a part of me. That their influence -- may it have been short-lived or still happening -- is a living, breathing part of me no matter what.
Many years ago I met a friend that I think of at times like this. Her name was Amy and we attended a week-long yearbook editing camp at Ball State University. We were room-mates in the dorm. Victims of a blind assignment that luckily worked out very nicely. We attended classes together and hung out all week. Afterwards, we became "pen pals." (Obviously this was before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) For a long time we wrote letters very regularly. She lived north of Chicago. We even met up once at Water Tower Place for lunch and shopping. But as time went on, I began to look differently at our friendship. I mean, when would we see each other again? What was the point of keeping in touch year after year? All these letters, but no face to face. And suddenly, the whole thing seemed kinda pointless. I stopped writing letters. Soon, I lost track of Amy. I have no idea where she is or where life carried her. But, she left a footprint on my heart...
I soon realized that I gave up on a friendship. I sabatoged it all by myself. I gave up on a friend. I decided that the distance and complications were more significant than the value of a good friendship. Yeah, it needed more effort. And I gave up on it. So, when I figured that out, I vowed to not allow that to happen again. If Dr. Seuss were to phrase it, he would say "A friend is a friend no matter the miles away ... A friend is a friend no matter the time that you play."
There are a handful of very special friends in my life. People who know me for all the sparkles, glitter and also the dark, dusty edges. People who know they can be who they are with me as well. I am selective and cautious, I guess, in choosing my dearest friends. Those I trust implicitly. Probably most of us are. I enjoy my time with these special individuals ... however long apart or regular that time might be. I think they know they can count on me.
But I'm also a self-professed gypsy with friends near and far. Some I have nurture from high school days and others from my days at Albion. A few I only connect with on-line or in letters. But they are no less dear. I also love the stage and perform at venues all around town. I gladly drive the miles to embark on a theatrical adventure. I make new friends in every production. I renew friendships. I continue to strengthen those that are part of my every-day life. I treasure these relationships though life, distance and other stuff may prevent us from spending lots and lots of time together. I consider them friends. And I value the footprints they have left on my heart. Oh sure, some came and went quickly. But others ... well, others retain a position of honor in my memory ... on my heart.
So, as the resolutions flow amidst the champagne tomorrow night ... and we sing "Should old acquaintance be forgot," I pause for a moment to reflect and remember. Though time and distance may keep physical beings apart, the soul and the heart can preserve a beautiful relationship. Just takes a little effort. And a little faith.
It's just another New Year's Eve, but I find myself feeling a deep sense of gratitude for each of you who walk -- or walked with me over the past 47 years. You left footprints .... see ya soon, I hope. But if not, you know where to find me.