Some people collect stamps, others collect vinyl records. My little brother collects autographs.
When I was a kid, I collected stickers.
When I was a kid, I collected stickers.
Now, to quote my dad, I'm "a collector of people."
You may not have predicted that when I was small because I was painfully shy. I was content to play by myself with my stuffed animals. My parents were even asked not to bring me back to a church nursery because I would scream and cry to the point of throwing up.
I used to read a lot of books and draw for days.
One time I spent hours creating a magazine of animal pictures, that I ended up selling to my father for fifty cents. It was enough to buy me nickel candy and one play on the arcade game at 'the yellow store' (a corner market about a half mile away from our house that was once painted yellow). Another time, I drew pages and pages of Cabbage Patch Kid cartoons to sell to the neighbors for 10 cents a piece. Some actually bought them!
Those were simpler times.
When I got to junior high, everything changed.
I have a penpal named Amie. When we were kids, she lived in a city over an hour away from mine. Our third grade teachers were friends and they paired us (and their other students) together as a fun writing assignment for the year. Amie and I continued to send letters that summer and in to the following school year (and beyond - over 25 years now!). We only wrote to each other then, until the 7th grade when we discovered that our churches were involved in the same youth organization and we would be able to meet at a statewide convention that Fall. We were both so shy, but becoming friends and taking initiative in this youth program really helped us flourish. We both found our voices and our strengths and pretty soon you couldn't shut us up.
Since then, it has become important to me to be surrounded by a wealth of friends. Each relationship takes on its own personality, as some are more temporary and less accessible than others. But each one matters to me, each person matters to me. My husband likes to say that I keep in touch with everyone I meet. This makes me laugh, because it's (kind of) true. Having lived in three different states, I've crossed paths with a lot of interesting people.
Last week, I received a letter from my dear friend, Tara. Handwritten. Yes, this vintage form of communication still exists. What a pleasure that was!
I used to write novellas to all the people I met at summer camp, and Amie got to hear about all the boys I had crushes on (there were many - they changed every week). I don't remember my hands cramping back then, but they sure do now.
The letter from Tara was so sweet, as it shared with me about the day from her front porch vantage point. She talked about her kids playing and making messes and the thoughts that were running through her head. She is a high school teacher by profession, and has two very creative and active children of her own at home. For her to take a break and choose me to spend it with was a blessing like no other.
Last night I had a long chat with one of my fellow foodies in Orange County. I know, the phone! I have become so accustomed to communicating through the written (typed) word that I often neglect the telephone for speaking. This friend, Cindy, is so good at calling me anyway and leaving me the silliest and most endearing voicemail messages.
Facebook is magical for keeping in touch with loved ones.
Skype has also become a vital medium for staying connected. Chris and I have enjoyed video chats with family and friends all over the country. Some are short and sweet while others have gone in to the wee hours of morning.
I (heart) modern technology.
My other cherished way of engaging is in person, face to face. If all goes as planned, we will have house guests three months in a row this summer. Ukraine, Seattle, and California will all be represented.
Today, I'm meeting my friend Brenda for lunch at a cafe in town.
Friendships are a gift, and my priceless collection.