I grew up kind of all over the place. We moved a lot, when I was little. I think I attended about 10 schools altogether during grade school. When we moved to South Carolina, I was entering the 7th grade. I am happy to say that I graduated from that very same school district five years later. My mom, could barely stand to be here that long, we lived in 4 different houses/apartments during those years, but we thankfully stayed in the same area. During this time I was able to do the one thing I hadn’t been afforded in the years preceding it, I got to make friends for more than a year. I was cautious with this at first. Always being the new kid will do that to you. After awhile though, I had my group of friends and extra curricular activities and was turning very quickly into a South Carolinian (officially I became a South Carolinian in the 9th grade upon my first trip to the Beacon, or so they told me, although real South Carolinians somehow always know I’m not from here because their first question is, ‘where are you from?’). When I’m 50 I will say that I grew up with this crazy group of friends. And although I haven’t lived here my whole life and lived in the same neighborhood since birth, I did grow up with them. We did high school together in pretty tame fashion, and now some of us are graduated from college, in grad school, getting married, working, and going back to college. We have survived boyfriends, girlfriends, inevitable break ups, heavy nights of drinking (please note I am the mother of the group, I never got drunk, I always took care of the drunkards), parents (being crazy, being crazy, dying, divorce), AP english, and so much more together. These people know all there is to know. When we see each other, we see the real people we are and were. They are more my family than many of my distantly related kin, and I would do anything for any of them. I think it’s interesting, though, that these five people are the only ones that see all of me all the time. There are some people I’ve known my whole life (family of course) that don’t see me as clearly as they do. We as people wear a lot of masks. We only reveal the layers underneath after lots of prying and pulling. Part of this is out of necessity, your coworkers don’t need to know everything about you, and some out of personal protection; if we reveal these “hidden layers” if we show too much of who we really are, then we will not be accepted or loved. But what is it about these five people who know me so well, and yet still love me. They still travel to see me when I’ve had surgery, they remember my birthday (well sometimes), if I’m in town a visit is mandated, they bring me goodies when I’m sick, and they hold my hand (or check for the boogie man, poor Patrick) when I’m scared, they see me and yet they still so obviously love me. They have no such commitment as my family does, yet they still love me. I have hurt them all (and they I) probably more times than I will ever be aware, and yet they still love me. They put up with my over bearingness, my inability to keep a comment to myself, my gossip, my foul mouth, crazy mother, all my baggage, my sisters, and so much more (see I won’t even divulge it here) yet they still love me.
What gives? Do they want something in return?
The short answer, is they don’t expect anything, although I do, have, and will give them anything I can. I will never understand fully why they love me. Maybe it is my imperfections, that endear me to them, maybe we’ve just proven ourselves to each other, or maybe it was fated and it cannot be undone. Whatever it is, I’ve gotta tell ya, I am so thankful for it. I love them so much. They know my stuff, I know theirs, and it makes us love each other all the more.
This is not to say that I am “fake” with the other friends and people in my life, but I am more selective with what I disclose with them. Some things they may never know, either because I don’t want to tell them because it is painful, or because they’ve never thought to ask. My five people don’t have to ask so they know it, just like they know the sun rises in the East.
One day I will find a sixth person, to add to this group of people, who knows and sees me completely and loves me in spite of or because of all of it. I do wish it not only for me, but for you too.
All of this was of course brought on by something I heard on the radio. It’s a song by Mercy Me called Beautiful. The end of the first verse says, “And if they truly saw your heart they’d see too much”. God knows all our crud too, and He loves us so very perfectly and completely anyway. That is beautiful.