Quite a number of years ago,  I was sitting in the backyard of my friend Lynda’s house, after a high school reunion. Lynda was there, of course, as was my friend Carol. (Carol is a sage, by the way, and as you may have guessed, she, Lynda, and I attended high school together.) Carol was holding forth on the subject of “gifts”, as in the sort you are born with.  She identified hers, and I asked her, “what about mine?” (I have to confess that at this point, I do not remember whether Diane, who deserves her own post, was still with us or whether she had headed home to her family.)

I may not recognize  all of them, but my best gift  has been apparent to me for a long time: I have been blessed with the ability to make and keep friends. Like it or not, once you are my friend, you are my friend until you officially resign. The first person to bring this to my attention was my mom; she was visiting me in San Diego while I was still in my 20s, and observed, ” You make friends wherever you go.” I remember thinking at the time, “Why wouldn’t I?” In my youth, I took friendship for granted in the same way I regarded oxygen.

My friends are my oxygen. They sustain me. No joy, no sorrow, no aggravation or amusement would mean anything without them to share it. My worst job was made tolerable by my friendship with Thu. My best job was made better because of friendships with too many folks to name. (ok, except maybe Jill. And Phong. And Jen. Oh hell- so many great people there!)

And then there’s Missy, who uses a grown up name now. We’ve been friends for 45 years  (Missy was pre-embryonic when we met.)

I am grateful to have maintained friendships with the neighbors I had when we were here in Durham for the first time, and to have recently made my first “work friend” at my part-time job. Tonight at my literacy class, I ran into a woman I trained with, and we made a plan to connect soon.

Tomorrow I will walk the neighborhood trail with my next-door neighbor. She was there when I moved into this house in 1997, and I am so glad she was still here when I came back last June. We will walk and talk about our other friends, and I will just keep being grateful.