I can be a bit possessive when it comes to my friends. Ever since high school, when you typically start forming cliques or a “crew”, I have been known to throw a side eye when it comes to “new friends” joining the circle. It used to take me a while to open up to people, so when I did, I considered them to be like family. I wasn’t always receptive to the idea of extending that family. Bottom line is, I didn’t want to share my best friends. I didn’t go to kindergarten, so sharing is not always my strong suit.
In college I was part of another close group of friends. So close that we created our own “sorority.” Yet, just like with my high school friends, our career paths took us to different parts of the country. So our tight-knit bonds started to fade. A few rifts within the circle also caused us to break into sub-cliques. After a while, I was no longer even friends with the women I had spent the last four years of my life with. I had imagined that we would be “sisters for life,” yet life had its own plans.
In NYC, I started meeting some really great people at my jobs (and I had several jobs throughout my journey). At my job as a receptionist at a chichi salon, I met Cynthia. She was a blessing since she helped me find my first apartment as well. It turned out to be the apartment above hers. I had had so many housing issues at that point that I considered moving back to Rochester. Getting that job and meeting her came right on time. I was able to stay in NYC and complete my Masters program, while working at the salon. My brother soon moved to Brooklyn and we shared that two bedroom apartment, while Cynthia and her brother lived downstairs. Soon, we were one big happy family.
My first “real” job after graduation was at a financial company. As you can imagine, I hated that job after a few months. Yet, I met a woman named Paula there and we quickly became inseparable. We ate lunch together everyday and shared our contempt for the company. We also started hanging out outside of work and became even closer. We are still friends to this day.
But it was when I began teaching at a charter school in 2006, that I met the woman that would change the definition of friendship for me. I met Laci the first day of orientation. She smiled at me and the rest is history. Her smile is her signature. She soon earned the nickname “Smiley” from the school officials since she was always smiling and had the sweetest nature about her. She’s obviously not a native New Yorker. She’s a jewel from South Carolina.
It turned out Laci was hired as the Dance teacher at the school. Since I was the Music teacher, we would be working closely to produce recitals and concerts. We worked together to tap into the talent of our students (K-4) and we had a blast creating memorable shows. We spent a lot of time together at work and soon outside of work.
Laci is the kind of friend everyone should have. She loves life and is the one to sign the both of you up for a crazy class or experience. She has taught me a lot about myself. She is also the kind of friend that will hold a mirror to me to show me the good and the bad. She has taught me a lot about unconditional love. I soon realized that she supported my dreams and accepted my flaws more than the man I was in a relationship with at the time. Needless to say, I now compare all of my relationships to whether he is a “male version of Laci.”
I have been blessed with other amazing people that I have the pleasure of calling my friends. The book club that I am a part of allows me to spend time monthly with great women that I have come to love. The best thing that came out of my aforementioned relationship (besides Trini food & music) was his group of friends. I traveled to Trinidad Carnival with them (and other friends in their circles) in 2014 and it was a wrap. After you spend a week and a half partying, dancing and laughing with a group of people, you are bonded for life. We are even closer than ever today and are planning to repeat the
debauchery wholesome experience again in 2016.
I have three friends from high school, Denise, Sharise and Kisha, that I still consider my sista-friends. They don’t live in NYC, so I don’t see them as often as I should or would like to. But we have been present for almost every major event in each others’ lives. We can also speak for the first time in months, yet it feels like nothing has changed. My relationship with my younger sister Esther has also changed, since our days of fighting over clothes and shoes. She has become a woman that I actually turn to for advice. She also has her own successful business, so she inspires me to continue to follow my dreams.
With the popularity of Facebook, I was able to reconnect with some of my friends from high school and rekindled my relationship with my college crew as well. One in particular, Martine, encouraged me and even shared her words of wisdom when I said I wanted to write a blog.
There is a song called No New Friends in which they say that they only ride with the friends they knew from day one. Shout out to Eva, a good friend I made while working at a TV network in 2011, that loves all things Drake. She has helped me let go of the past and to embrace the future.
Yes, on this journey we call life, we learn who our true friends are by seeing who is left standing after the smoke clears. So I cherish the ones that have been there since day one. But I’m glad that I have learned to open my heart and embrace all that making new friends has to offer.
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.