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Friend Families

I love these two words together. For my whole adult life, I’ve loved the practice of community and I believe that friendships are sacred. I’ve never been one to bond on a surface level and then move on, from friend to friend or community to community. Part of this is naturally how I am; but another part of it is nearly a decade of purposeful community building.

The purposeful aspect means trying your hardest to answer the phone when your friend calls just to say a quick “Hello.” It means intentionally maintaining your weekly brunch date with the girls even when there’s a new boyfriend in your life. And it means calling them on their birthday, even when we’re in our thirties and 1,000 miles apart. It means intentionally working against time and distance; social media; and never trading in a series of “likes” for real connection, vulnerability, and the joy of connection.

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Having friends who’ve stuck by you in the terrible times and the best of times creates a rich, textured life. The beautiful result is a community of fellow-travelers and they add so much depth to life. They are our comfort in times of tragedy and our source of real joy in times of happiness.

But as with anything good in life, Friend Families require effort. Phone calls. Coffee dates. Planning trips together.  And this year, I’m so thankful for our little Friend Family that gathered in Santa Fe for all the great stuff that makes up family, friends, and holidays: spending tons of time together, laughing at dumb jokes, crying & having hard conversations, wandering around town looking for great coffee . . . the list goes on. All of this is just so good because when you’ve spent 15 years hanging out together, life just gets better and better.

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The latest issue of Kinfolk has a wonderful essay on Friend Families. Here’s a short excerpt that I particularly love:

“In reality, the friend who always answers our calls, the barista who doubles as our therapist, the hairdresser who knows our mood better than we do and the coworker who invited us out during our first crushingly lonely week in a new city can feel as much life our family as the clan we’re born into. These people aren’t assigned to us, but chosen by us–and isn’t that as worthy of celebration as any confluence of fate and genetics? These carefully selected families continue to grow throughout our lives without a ticking sociological or biological clock to worry about . . .

Someone who encourages your talents, cushions your heartaches, tolerates your complaints and laughs at your jokes–or even if they laugh at your complaints and tolerate your jokes–can feel as close to a brother or a sister as anyone you share DNA or a dinner table with.

In our current society, real family values have nothing to do with where you live or how we know each other–they’re about how we treat each other . . .”

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Friend Families | Kinfolk Magazine | St John’s College Santa Fe