I’m not really the gambling type of girl, although all summer I have wanted to visit the amazing Scott Elfenbein in Las Vegas due to the crazy stories he shares about his job there. However, my recent trip out east to NYC and Cambridge to help move one of my best friends, Matt, into his apartment made me think a lot about my friendships at this time in my life, and how they are a little like gambling. Mainly I was thinking about this because of who I got to see while I was there, as well as who I did not see. And I think it boils down to what I am going to refer to as the “Rachel Schend Effect.”
Rachel is my oldest, continuous friend—we’ve been in one another’s lives since the young age of 7. At the risk of sounding too sentimental, Rachel isn’t just one of closest friends, but someone who I consider to be a second sister to me. When we went off to college, Rachel and I only saw one another on those few holidays that we were both home, and during summer days before jobs and internships took over. And through those lovely occasions we developed a very strange but meaningful tradition that every time we reunited we would meet up at her house and drink cheap wine and eat relatively stale donuts, with our only deviations being one time that we had super dry champagne that was only salvaged by heaps of sugar. But even though those days have become fewer and farther between as we get older, I know that every time I spend time with Rachel it will be fantastic, that we will fall right back into effortless friendship, and all because we remain present in one another’s lives through emails, phone calls, Facebook—whatever means available. We show up for each other, even when we can’t physically show up.
I read in a blog recently that the right people will be your memory bank and will bring out the best in you. But finding the right people means making bets. Bets sometimes pay off big, and sometimes they don’t, and either leave you just how you started or negatively impacted. This past year, I learned a lot about my friendships, such as a girl could keep the same roommates for four years through college and love them even more at the end than at the beginning. I learned that sometimes you meet someone and instantly put them in that enclosed circle of trust. Though I also learned that sometimes you can’t help your friends because they have to help themselves, or that some connections to people have to broken because you may hurt yourself in holding on to someone intent on hurting themselves. In every relationship the willingness to take a chance is a key factor in the story’s plot.
The worst part is having expectations that can’t or won’t be met. I have often asked myself if I ask too much of my friendships, but then again, they are my friends because we should expect that our true, close friends would be the ones we could put in our corner of life’s boxing ring. These are the people I would bet on to take care of me during the fights, and be there with more water, and clean up the wounds or say a kind word. They are the people I would hope that if I put all the chips in, the risk would pay off in huge life winnings.
One of the most amazing things about my last time in Ghana, is that I still get phone calls from the people in my neighborhood. They remember my birthday, ask me about school, and reminisce about all the good times we had. And they tell me how they are looking forward to having me back with them. Those phone calls cost a lot for people who work very hard to keep their heads above the water, but they make them. It’s time to match that all in bet.