From the outside, my friend Shannon and I are remarkably similar. We’re both short, with her just 1.5 inches taller than me. We both have long, unruly brown hair that naturally curls and waves. We both have terrible eye-sight and wear plastic, brown glasses. We were both in the circus, and were roommates, and have a strange tendency to say the same words at times. We make similar faces. We love Disney movies.
But the similarities end there because, despite being best friends, we’re polar opposites. I crave stability, knowing where I am and what I’m doing. I have a job, a husband. We’re looking into buying a house soon. We have an apartment full of stuff and while all that might sound boring, it’s also reassuring and comfortable. I love living like this, I love knowing I’m okay. Shannon, on the other hand, is a wanderer. She can fit her entire life into her car. She’s moved to different states just for fun, and in a week she’s moving out of the country. Her job is tentative, but she doesn’t care. To her, it’s an experience, a chance to travel, a chance to live.
And yet, somehow our friendship works perfectly.
I realized that the other day as we were walking down our street (she is, at this moment, my neighbor). As we talked, my mind floated above us and instead of seeing us as who we are, I saw us as characters in a book. Her the girl who follows wanderlust and me the one who stays planted. It was neat seeing us like that, imagining what craziness we’d get up to as these characters. How, in theory, we should probably drive each other crazy, but how in actuality, we’re the perfect match.
Because in a way, we bring out something in one another. For her, I show her that stability is okay. She’s admitted to wanting to settle down one day. I make sure she’s okay; remind her to keep us updated during her travels in case of, well, emergencies. I bring out the logic in her.
And me? She made me go to a state park on my one day off. Usually I reserve that day for writing or bills or errands, but she took me to the springs and for the full afternoon we laid by the water, ate snacks, and took in the day. And it was fantastic. It’s not like I’d never been to the park before, I had many a time, but lately I’d been so wrapped up in feeling old and professional that I forgot what it was like to drop everything and live.
So I did. And I didn’t think of everything I had to do at home. I wrote notes in my journal for the book I’m working on because, as it turned out, this serenity made words come easier to me. And later, when we met up with a few friends, I didn’t care that I was wearing shorts from college that had paint stains on them. I didn’t care that my nose was the color of Rudolph’s and my freckles were at full visibility (that said, I quite like my freckles). I didn’t care that the spring water made my hair into a mass of curls and tangles. I just smiled and laughed and felt pretty.
Because I was living.
I know I can’t be like that all of the time – it’s not me – but I also know that I can add her influence just a bit. I know when she’s away, she’ll make sure things are in order because I gave that to her. And I know when she’s away I’ll spend more time doing rather than thinking because the sand is still on my sandals and I have no desire to wipe it off.