I’d never heard of National Friendship Day (July 30th), but when someone on the Jenni Earle team mentioned it, the holiday makes sense. We celebrate mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, and a host of other things—so why not friendship?
Platonic love is overlooked by books and movies. Perhaps that trend has changed in the last generation, but overall romantic love and relationships are what we hear in the songs on the radio.
Friendships are a part of our lives longer than any partnership or marriage. We’ve been making friends since the days of neighborhood capture the flag games, kindergarten class and summer camp. You may not still be friends with some of those people, but they were there for you and shaped who you are today.
Currently I am traveling across the country visiting national parks and forests (@theoneswhoescape). It’s just me and my dog in a van, which gets lonely. I’m grateful that I have friends that live along the way; familiar faces are a welcome sight after days of driving on the highway. Friendships have become anchor points as I make my way from New Hampshire to Colorado and Utah.
Most recently I stayed with long-time friends in Omaha, Nebraska. We all lived in Winston-Salem, NC together years ago. We knew each other in college, and while we all worked in downtown bars and coffee shops. The three of us have changed in significant ways: sober for two years, getting a graduate degree, starting a small business.
Yet, the visit felt like returning home. My friends knew me during the dynamic years of college and post-college life: a time when emotions run high and decisions are usually made rashly. They know my life’s context and can see personal growth. I didn’t need to over-explain myself, and I did not feel compelled to update them on every single tiny detail of my life since we last were together. Deep friendships allow you to show up as you are, and require nothing more. Conversations with my friends during my stay naturally included all the important topics in our lives. We connected, and I moved on with a sense of excitement for the next time we would be together.
Friendships can be difficult, as much or more so than romantic relationships. I’ve had friend ‘break-ups’. While completing a long distance hike, a friend texted me to say that she wasn’t getting anything out of the friendship and that she did not want to continue the relationship. We haven’t spoken since. We all have priorities in life and friendship is often brought to the altar as a sacrifice, or celebration. We must be kind to everyone, but we do not have the capacity to develop relationships with everyone. Friends are a limited resource in our life—we only have so much time.
That’s why it makes sense to me that there is a day to celebrate friendships. The ones that you have—that have survived years of change, moving, children, fights, late nights on the phone—are worth honoring. I’m biased, but a Jenni Earle bandana, shirt or handmade paper item might be a great way to say ‘i love you, friend’. Or maybe on July 30th you pick up the phone and check in on someone. During many hours of driving this summer I have called dozens of friends. I’ve turned the tedious drives into a ritual: the time I dedicate to connecting with my friends. I feel alone on the highway, and conversations with friends uplift me. Though, traveling to new places means meeting new people, too. Now that I think of it, the best way to celebrate Friendship Day might be to make a new one.
Be a good friend,