Intentionality of Friendship

It’s spring.  Just barely according to the weather, but in the cadence of life, I feel it.  The predictable schedule of fall and winter was like a dormant volcano: lots of activity but under control.  With spring, active lava flies out at will and spews new opportunities.  I’ve given up thinking I’m inside controlling the trajectory; I’m outside chasing the hot ash.  

I know where I am without confirming the date on the calendar: Mere weeks before the end of the school year.  Will has added track practice and track meets to his schedule, not in place of anything but on top of everything.  The end of Liam’s chess club is overlapping with the beginning of his cooking class and golf league, on top of guitar lessons.  Somewhere in the mix are Will’s spring concert and spring recital, and Liam’s trips to the YMCA to burn some energy off in the pool.

To Bill’s delight, perfectly manicured green grass has an open sign on it.  He can once again chase a little white dimpled ball over grass, through woods, onto sand, and into water.  Plus there’s soccer, Formula 1 racing, and golf Friday through Sunday on the tube. He’s in heaven.  

As activities flux in the Malcolms' lives, I’m working like heck to keep me on the schedule.  Over the winter months, I carved out a pretty good exercise routine throughout the weeks, and I’m looking forward to holding onto it through June 13th; Liam’s last day of school when all semblance of the current schedule disappears. I’m confident I can manage this: it’s an existing machine.  The where and when already pre-determined by habit.  

What’s more challenging lays in the land of community.  I’m the social coordinator for the family, and there is danger in this: booking for everyone else, but me.  On Thursday mornings every week, a friend and I are committed to walking 5k around a local lake.  Two other mornings I do Pilates to keep this post-cancer body limber and strong.  Those are the only weekly social interactions on my calendar.  I feel grateful that they are routinely scheduled to happen.  No, not even scheduled, they just are.  

Occasionally, I have a lonely week.  Bleak even.  This is a bit confusing because I’m rarely alone and always out and about.  Looking at a week’s view of my calendar, I could see that while it was jam-packed, I had no intentional, personal social interactions of my own, outside of these three hours of exercise.  Mind you, a hello, a wave, and a five-minute conversation on the fly do not count.  Nor do texts, emails, or social posts.  Call me old-fashioned, but for me to feel socially connected requires more intentionality.  To sit across from a friend and talk for an hour.  To have an equally long phone conversation with long-distance friends.  To spend a weekend together with out-of-state friends.  

A 47-year-old friendship... Vicki, my friend since kindergarten.

And the funny thing is, the more intentional time I spend with friends, the more I want to see them.  The intensity and quality of time in one another’s company doesn’t quench the need but only intensifies the want for more.  

So, as hard as it is to mesh Saturday morning schedules for a breakfast, pull off a mid-week dinner, or connect at the right time of day by phone, I’m going to keep plugging away at my social calendar, for the payoff is indescribable and immeasurable.  

Enjoying the journey…