A couple years ago, a couple years into living in San Francisco, I remember having a not-so-great day and wishing I was back in Chicago. I missed my friends, the lifelong ones, the ones who knew me best. I wanted the kinds of people who would show up wearing sweatpants for a lazy, who-cares kind of night. By then, of course, I'd built some really great relationships in California, but still I was homesick, and friendsick, if that's a thing. I was so, so friendsick.
It's lucky, I think, to have those sorts of hometown friendships, the ones worth missing. That's what happens when you grow up in a small town — you get used to all your friends living within a ten-block radius, and you get used to seeing them each day, and moving through life together year after year. And then, when you get married, you look around on your wedding day and realize that your guest list looks an awful lot like your kindergarten class. (An actual thought I had during our reception.)
Last week, I had another not-so-great day. A string of them, actually, and in the midst of a busy time for Radley, I didn't want to have to lean entirely on him. I expected to struggle throughout the week, and I gave some of those same lifelong friends a heads up: Hey, I may need you this week. I expected the worst, waiting for the heaviness to sort of settle in, but it didn't. It couldn't.
There wasn't enough time for the weight to build because the people I love here, the ones in San Francisco, didn't let it. They swooped in and I felt understood. I felt okay.
If there's one thing I've learned about myself over the years, it's that I do better when I ask for help than when I try to go at it alone. Maybe it's all those years being surrounded by such a close-knit group, but when something hard comes up, I just have to know there's someone next to me. They don't have to do anything or say anything; they just have to sit there, and be there.
For the first time, really, I found myself reaching out to the people here. I felt strangely nervous about it, afraid to be vulnerable and afraid to be not my best self. But then the small kindnesses trickled in, one after another, and I ended up crying on a bus because I felt so sincerely cared for.
This city has never felt more like home. I've never felt more grateful for Radley, or for the friendships that have come into my life over the last few years. Nothing, of course, could ever replace the people who have walked beside me for nearly three decades, but it's good to remember that time isn't everything — that love can come quickly, and easily, and that can mean just as much.
Sometimes you don't recognize the strength of a friendship until you really, really need it. And it's okay to really need it, you know? That's kind of the point.