I love watching the interactions of friendship among my students.  They are immature in many ways ("How am I supposed to remember my homework if you don't remind me?!") but shockingly grown-up in others.  One of the most touching things I notice is the way they stick up for each other -- when I'm "picking on" one, or when another is having a bad day.  And when I ask them what's important, without hesitation they respond, "friends."

Maybe it's touching because I can remember that time so well.  In high school, family and school were necessary evils, and romance a far-off hazy dream.  But friends were real.  They were life.  They were everything.  I didn't realize how lucky I was until I was thrown out into the world, where they were a lot harder to find and keep.

But thankfully, real friendships don't fade with time.  After I was done fuming yesterday, I called my best friend from high school and invited her to come with me.  In fact, she had had a frustrating morning too, and had already taken off work for the day, so she was delighted for the diversion.  We spent the afternoon together, taking in the exhibits, laughing at the campy melodrama and swallowing back tears at the tough stuff (a video about the 9/11 terrorist attacks was the hardest, considering the date,) breaking for lunch and then going back for more information, more things to talk and think about.  We don't see each other nearly enough, but we don't guilt each other about it, either.  We just love the time we have together, and we can communicate deeply without saying much at all.

With a true friend, I don't have to explain myself or make excuses.  A different high school friend is now bringing her 4-year-old to me for piano lessons.  When she walks in the door, I don't worry about how clean my carpet is or whether my hair is all in place (even though hers always is, and will be even when she's hobbling around on a cane.)  Another dear friend has a charming habit of exonerating me anytime I cancel or accidentally double-book her with something else: "It's so crazy right now," she'll say, even if it's the middle of summer vacation and I haven't had a responsibility in weeks.  "It totally makes sense that you'd be a little mixed up."

There will always be friends you have to be careful around -- don't cancel plans or they'll think you're a flake, don't say no or they'll think you don't like them, don't bring up politics or the evening will be over early.  I'm sure I've been guilty of being one of those friends, too.  But thank God for the others, the ones where you can pick right up where you left off, the ones who won't think less of you no matter what you do or say, the ones who make you come home and sink into your couch and smile and say, "I am *so* glad I know her."

Girls, you know who you are.  I love you.