"The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring." --Oscar Wilde
The holiday season has arrived, and everyone is getting caught up in shopping malls, toy for tot collections and family dinners.
For those of us who will be alone during the holidays, it is so easy to drift into a fog of depression. As others gather around trees or menorahs, exchanging presents and kissing under mistletoe, the singles of the world must find comfort in themselves...and in their friends.
But friendship is no consolation prize. It is one of the greatest gifts, and one that I fully appreciate. So in the spirit of giving, let me share with you two of my closest friends.
"Love is blind, but friendship is clairvoyant." --Unknown
Bev is an amazing woman. She always knows how to make me feel good. In fact, she's probably one of my biggest fans.
If I have a bad day, I can pick up the phone and she will immediately drop whatever she is doing to offer a sympathetic ear. When I have doubts over career moves, she appears out of the blue with a letter showering me with praise and encouragement. Once in a while, when I'm feeling goofy and I just want to giggle, she's always available with a hearty laugh and a funny story. We've taken all those silly questionnaires that share definitions of our personalities, and it's no surprise to see how compatible we are.
Although I've known her for years, Bev and I have seen each other face-to-face only once. The rest of our friendship has consisted almost entirely of e-mails, phone calls and instant messages.
Perhaps it helps that we are both writers. Or both witches. We're both cat lovers and spirit sisters who have an affinity for Scottish moors. But even without all these similarities, she is a soul who constantly and effortlessly nourishes mine.
"You are locked in my heart -- the little key is lost and now you must stay there forever." --Unknown
Although we live 1,200 miles apart, I still consider Frank to be my best friend. From the moment we met, we became instant partners...and no amount of history or distance will ever change that.
Frank helped me to develop my personality. Without trying to mold or change me, he encouraged my successes and bared my flaws.
I'm less judgmental than I used to be. I no longer "hate" people -- instead, I simply do not allow those who mistreat me to have power over my life. I'm more independent than ever before, and I've finally put my spirit in balance.
I'm a better writer. I learned from example by watching and reading the amazing stories and poems Frank would effortlessly pen.
He also opened my eyes to a whole world of literature -- comic books. Who knew that years after our first chaperoned "date" at a South Florida IHOP, I would become such a fan of this genre?
In truth, he accidentally made me a comic book widow. Today I know who the great artists and writers are, and can identify their work on sight. I've read the best of the best (Sandman, Kingdom Come, Watchmen), and adapted an appreciation for superheroes into my lifestyle.
With a single phone call, his voice immediately brings back all the late nights spent at the gaming table, tossing dice and telling stories of great heroism. Even as I stumbled through my first few outings (like when poor Stormfire got stuck chasing that missile around the Earth...or the time Clay started throwing knives *there*), he was always patient and understanding, grooming me in the ways of Marvel, D.C. and Cyber Age Adventures.
We also share more memories than I can possibly list, but which include: midnight movies, Shakespeare, Renn fairs, book stores, Key West, Amy, ankhs, Diablooooo, tonkatsu, INHOUSE, cats (and a big goofy dog), fireplaces, star wishes, Spenser, Christmas tree lights, Mac addiction, the Motherland and Mad about You.
Best of all...Frank is one of the most caring people that I know. With a single hug, he can make me feel better. If I'm hurt or in pain, he does everything he can to make me well or just provide comfort. Years ago, while slow dancing to Sting, I fell hard for him. But it is our enduring friendship that turned all those romantic feelings into a genuine, passionate, lifelong love.
I may be on my own this holiday season, but I don't feel alone. My life is filled with the gifts of friendship, and I am grateful for all that I have received.