Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
(C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves)
I am a firm believer that some friendships have a spark, a chemistry, just as romantic relationships do. It can’t be explained – it just is. I’ve been around people I should have been great friends with – incredible people with similar interests, etc etc., but the spark wasn’t there. We got along fine enough and enjoyed each other’s company, but that was about it.
When I find that spark in friendship it feels like we’ve been friends for years… when in fact it’s only been weeks. Or even days.
Do you know what I’m talking about?
I hope you do.
Before I moved to Georgia, I was physically separated from these kind of friends, and I was lonely.
The plan was to live with a close friend when I came to GA, but two months before I moved down things fell through and my friend took a job in another state.
I was devastated.
I longed for friends, and on top of that I didn’t want to live with a stranger. I felt like a freshman in college again (…that was soooooooooooo seven years ago.)
But there I was, almost 25 years old, friendless, roommate-less. About to move to Georgia and terrified about it.
After a month of stressing, I decided to trust God.
And then, on May 9, 2011 – a few weeks before I moved to Georgia – I got a random Facebook message from this girl named Bethany Holland. I had seen her at a World Race training camp seven months prior, but we never met. Apparently she was moving to Gainesville to work with Adventures at the same time as me and needed a roommate. I quickly stalked her FB page, noticed she liked Michael Jackson, and knew right then we were a match made in heaven. I wrote in my diary,
I have a roommate. I.have.a.roommate. A spectacular roommate! Bethany Holland messaged me, saying she’s been praying for God to open doors for her living situation in Gainesville. She’s been praying for me – I’ve been praying for her – we’ve been praying for each other and we didn’t even know it! God knew this whole time.
And thus began our friendship.
We moved in knowing nothing about each other (besides the Michael Jackson thing), but after a couple kitchen table conversations I could tell we had that spark of friendship.
It’s been a wild ride ever since…
We’ve lived in two apartments and a house, been through breakups and bad hair cuts, gone on more airport runs and prayer walks than we can count. We’ve shared clothes and food and stories and pain.We’ve hurt each other, rooted for each other, fought with each other, forgiven each other.
Bethany has seen me at my worst. She was there after my Lasik surgery, guiding me hand-in-hand from the car to my bed before taping those ugly goggles on my face. She didn’t even laugh.
She was there when I came back from my counselor and cried on her bed.
She was there when I had a bad dream in the middle of the night… I woke her up because I was scared, and she said I could wake her up if needed. I hardly knew her at that point but I believed she meant what she said. (She did.)
I have learned so much from Bethany, and I think she’s learned a bit from me too. She’s more feminist because of me; I’m more generous because of her.
Bethany is someone who gives freely – her time, money, and listening ear. She has listenened to me say the same thing over and over again, pine for men who will never be, fumble over my words and has not once made me feel stupid in the process. On the contrary, she makes me feel loved… like what I’m saying is worth listening to.
One night a few months ago we were sitting on my bed as Bethany was processing something with me. She ended up telling me I’m a good listener, that I never judge people or something like that. I remember thinking, “Huh? I learned that from you.“
I have my fair share of favorite memories with Bethany – like the time I was leaving the gym sweaty, hungry and exhausted and she texted me asking if I wanted to go to Olive Garden because she had a gift card. Um, definitely?
There was the Saturday morning we stayed in our pjs, ate pancakes and watched Alive! Is Michael Jackson Really Dead? (followed by Michael Jackson music videos, of course.)
There was New Year’s Eve 2011… and New Year’s Eve 2013.
There have been concerts (Laura Marling, Brandi Carlile, Joshua Radin, Ellie Goulding), flashmobs, late night Froyo runs, holidays, birthdays, lake days, volleyball Sundays and that time we went to Bermuda together (aka got a spray tan.)
We have so many memories together – but what I’m going to miss the most are the in between moments.
Making spinach & feta scrambled eggs so many times we can’t even stand the taste two years later. Carpooling, trips to the grocery store. Praying for our husbands. Ordering takeout Chinese and watching a Redbox movie on a Friday night. Drinking tea and talking passionately around the kitchen table. Asking her if I should wear this belt or that one before going to work on Monday.
After three years of living in Georgia, Bethany is spreading her wings and flying elswhere in life. She’ll be leading a group of World Racers around the globe before starting seminary in Pheonix.
She leaves tomorrow.
It all happened pretty fast, and I’m pretty excited for her. I encouraged her to make the jump.
But I’m grieving, of course. I started writing this post over a week ago and the first few nights I couldn’t write without tears sneaking down my cheeks. That’s why I knew I needed to write it. To help me feel.
I have been absolutely spoiled with rich relationships in life. I have friends in Gainesville and scattered across the country – California, Washington, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, Ohio.
In the last three years, Bethany is the friend who has remained constant amidst change and travel and weddings and babies.
I know we’ll stay friends, but I also know it will be different. Memories and in between moments will be replaced with texts and emails – where there was skin there will now be screen.
I’m sad, nervous and hopeful.
When I look back on the goodness of God it gives me peace.
God brought Bethany into my life when I was scared and alone, and she stayed longer than I expected. That’s the thing about friends – you never really know how long they’re going to be next door.
I got three years with Bethany. And now we part ways.
In the words of A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh),
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
I love you, Beth!
(…now go get ‘em!)