I have a new friend. My newest of the 719 friends that Facebook has so kindly cataloged and alphabetized for me. I have never met her. Our friendship began when another friend, who is also friends with this woman, happened to almost introduce us on Twitter, by mentioning us in the same tweet.
Let us rejoice in the miracle of social media.
Twitter with a twist, though: in a fit of pixelated bravery, I sent a friend request via Facebook, along with a note, to let her know of our tenuous, almost-connection, just in case she had missed the nuance of it. In case she thought I was just a sad and lonely Facebook stalker-girl. Or maybe she assumed I was that anyway, and was just being kind to that lonely and sad stalker-girl. Who knew? But the request was sent, the offer accepted. Friends for life.
From 718 to 719 in the blink of an eye, the click of a mouse.
Here's the thing though: in the space between clicks, that smallest of moments from one blink to the next, I took a ride in my own private Way Back Machine. In that instant, I was suddenly fourteen again: standing at the popular kids' table-- me, the chubby, gawky, self-conscious, too smart for her own good, too sarcastic for anyone's good, hopeful yet nonchalantly desperate girl-- asking if I could eat lunch. At their table. With them.
Please, oh please-- let them not laugh. Let them not be disdainful. More, let them not be indifferent. Let them be kind. Please God, please let them be kind. This is my secret prayer, a ritual mantra that pounds in twisty rhythms on my heart so loudly I'm sure it can be heard halfway across the crowded cafeteria. See me, in all my awkward glory, and let that be enough. Let me be enough.
A friend request sent, and in a timeless blink, time shifted, effortlessly. I stood, a geeky, frizzy supplicant before those perfect, pretty people. They betrayed no fraying edges, no unraveling of their perfect, pretty little lives (right?). These were the magic few who fit. Comfortably in their own skins, they wore their lives with such graceful ease. They were the ones who were handed the Rule Book at birth. Hell; they'd written it (or at least, they'd descended from the people who had). They got it, all of it: life, in all its uncomplicated, unmessy fullness. And, while I may have asked if I could sit at the table, what I meant, with every fiber of my being was "Will you be my friend? Will you make me whole? Will you save me and make me enough?"
At fourteen, it was a rare occasion that I was enough. Of course, it never occurred to me that I was standing at the wrong table. Or maybe I was just asking the wrong questions.
Save me? Make me enough? Really? It took me several decades to learn that these are God jobs, with a little sideways effort from yours truly. They are so not jobs for man nor beast-- nor fourteen year old kids, sitting at a cafeteria table, innocently eating lunch. I found all my flaws, all the empty spaces inside my soul and demanded they be filled. These kids, these Mean Girls and Cheerleaders, the popular, perfect people could never save me from myself.
Be my friend-- somehow, much to my absolute surprise, I survived the pain of that plaintive request. Of course, for a long time, I retreated from that pain, and lived as best I could in a tiny universe of one-protected, safe, untouched. And then even that became too painful to bear, and I crawled out of my universe into the world at large, and the same teeming cafeteria, filled with everyone and then some: the Beautiful and the Perfect and the Flawed and the Stumbling. All of us, searching, seeking, yearning for connection and wholeness.
Will you be my friend? It's no longer a question. It is not "Fill me and find me and make me enough." It is a declaration-- "The bridge is narrow. Let us not be afraid, but walk the narrow places together. Let us shine a light into the dark corners, and take comfort in the light we can share."
There is such abundance, of light and love and strength. Abundance enough to sing into the darkness, to walk bravely, to be kind. Enough, surely, to risk and ask aloud: "Will you be my friend?"
Enough to be.
And that, my friends, is surely enough.
Thank you to my friends Julie Silver, for giving me the keys to the Way Back machine, and to Amy Ferris, who agreed to share her light. What an amazing gift-- to be able to walk a path with you both.