I had an early morning skype session with Tammy. We were friends in high school, and technology reconnected us in adulthood. Our friendship feeds me in ways that are hard for me to express. Our mutual affection for each other has reinforced the idea that sameness is not an essential element in relationship. We are better friends because of our differences. Our differences are fiercely and mutually protected by the other, and I love it. We laugh and cry. We commiserate about our spirited daughters and her wise-beyond-years son. We message each other with prayer requests. We are full-service friends. The only downside is that a ten-hour drive separates us.
This morning's conversation focused on a paper she's writing for her master's. We were talking modern vs. post-modern, the Fall, original sin, Jesus, you know, light fare. We were both teacher and student to the other. The conversation moved on and we began talking about how my 4040 list is filling me and how my new daily writing habit is changing me. She said, “I'm going to be that friend that says: I TOLD YOU SO!”
“I'm having so much fun watching this happen to you. I've always known you were a writer—even in high school. It's so fun watching you figure it out.” Stop, wait, what?!?
I asked her to reflect on that a bit more and a beautiful story poured forth. She reminded me of Mrs. Deeg's composition class we'd had together. She talked about how seriously I'd taken our assignments and how even then, she knew I was a writer. She described my work as polished even in rough draft form. She reminded me that we had to trade essays and read each other's work. She told me that my writing ability had been slightly intimidating. She told me that she tells people about her friend Julie, The Writer.
And then I started to cry. The friends who “knew us when” have such a gift to offer our older selves.
I cried because the truth of her words resonated. I HAVE been a writer all this time. I just needed time to settle into what that meant for me. I cried because this friend is BRILLIANT. She and our other friends were the SMART ones. The National Honor Society kids. I cried because I was the dumb one in the group.
And then she said, “No, Julie, you weren't the dumb one. You were the writer in the group.” And my heart healed a little. I can accept that revision to the story I always told myself. I was different than our other friends. My love of words set me apart, but did not cast me out. I just marched to a different beat, and those friends loved me.
It is a gift to get to see yourself as others who love you see you. It's a greater gift when you begin to believe the story they are telling.