Friendship: What is it? Where do we find it? How do we keep it?
According to Facebook, a friend is someone we may have met for a minute, added to a list and left to the algorithm.
According to Marc Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, friends (like Romans and countrymen, respectively) tend to lend their ears and are often prone to peer pressure.
According to my youngest son, friendship is a compass that points to where your heart is, regardless of time or distance.
Sorry, Bill, but I’m with the kid on this one.
“I’m not tired,” said that same kid, lying through his eyelids, then his mouth fell open and never closed again. We were five hours into a 10-hour flight, somewhere over something dark. It was late. We were all tired. He was asleep.
We were on our way to Sweden. Again. Friendship, you see, like any compass, is a magnetic thing, and it pulls us through the iron of our heartstrings. Frankly, it is a wonderful way to travel.
I get that it isn’t for everyone. There are far more obstacles to family travel than not, with money being perhaps the biggest. It wasn’t easy for us, either. In fact, it nearly didn’t happen. Despite buying our airfare so far in advance that it was cheaper than most domestic travel, and having accommodations provided via the generosity of our friends and their timeshare, it was still a big undertaking that involved a lot of saving and even more corners cut. The benefits, of course, outweigh everything.
Friendship is a pretty good investment
The slopes of Storlien look soft from a distance, white and fluffy like marshmallow rivers running down the sloppy side of a bright, cold sundae; and the nuts in the thick of it are those you love the most, with sprinkles on their feet and downhill growing wide beneath them. Mountains are made for metaphors, while ice is cold and mostly water. It is not nearly as soft as the brochure suggests, but it is worth it all the same, even more so for the sharing.
This is where we spent a week, a quick walk in the snow, uphill both ways, between cabin and ski lifts. We were an overnight train ride from Gothenburg, sans Internet and dressed in more layers than an onion. The temperature stayed well below freezing. The wind blew it colder. The kitchen, however, was cozy with wine and conversation.
Friendship, when done correctly, becomes the family that you choose.
Ours started seven years ago, when two little boys, both new in town, met in a California classroom. Neither spoke the language of the other, nor did they seem to care, but they knew what laughter sounded like and they understood kindness perfectly. Their friendship rippled to include their older siblings and their parents, from play dates to family game nights to theme parks on the weekends. And then they moved back to Sweden, which could have been the end of it. We all know that life has done meaner things.
But it wasn’t. Absence, it turns out, really does make the heart grow fonder, but the digital age provided a tether that wouldn’t break. In fact, the boys’ friendship grew all the stronger, and they took the rest of us right along with them. It is an easy comfort.
Hence, our trip to Sweden, and plans already in motion for the next trip we will all take together. We’re thinking somewhere warmer.
Friendship is anything you want it to be, and everything you make it.
Winter sports are optional.