Tuesday, March 22, 2016

True Love, Best Friends, Life Lessons

I want to tell you about my best friend, Shannon. And when I say she is my "best friend", I don't mean she is my best friend of the moment. I mean she is my oldest and dearest friend in the whole wide world. I mean she is my "true love". Yes, that is right, I called her my true love. I think we can have many true loves. Our children, our family (if we happen to be close to them), romantic partners and best friends. If ever there was a true love, she is mine.

I posted an Instagram post recently and thanked different people who are inspirations and taught me life lessons by their examples. I thanked Shannon for teaching me loyalty. I looked back later and thought, "Geez that is so lame. She taught me SO much more than that." So that day I started thinking about the Instagram post I was going to create in honor of her....only the composition in my head got much too long for Instagram and I decided to turn it into a blog post.

Shannon is BEAUTIFUL....stunningly so. People stop in their tracks to look at her. The thing is about beautiful people, sometimes that's all the world sees. They look no further than the surface. Women were often jealous of her and men would fall all over themselves to be near her. Both sexes make assumptions about who she is as a person to suit themselves. Women were catty and mean and would try to see flaws just to make themselves better, and men would project onto her what they wanted her to be. Or worse yet, they would try to mold her into their ideal.

Shannon is so much more than just a pretty face. She is a beautiful soul.

Our very first encounter, Shannon probably doesn't even remember. I was in the 6th grade and was living across the street from West Junior High School where Shannon was in the 7th grade because her birthday was before the school year started...only a month before mine. I attended church school and would walk to school every morning. One day I chose to borrow my sister's high heeled shoes to wear to school and some kids were making fun of me. Shannon defended me and said she liked them and they should stop being mean. That is her nature. She is a champion for the down-trodden and the underdog. She will not tolerate seeing people mistreat her fellow human and I love that about her.

When Shannon and I first officially met, we didn't hit it off right away. It was later we bonded when we were 17 at a party that the Elvis Brothers were at in our home town of Columbia, Missouri. We were both standing nervously by the door and she commented about how insecure she was feeling about what she chose to wear. I told her she had nothing to worry about, that she looked gorgeous. Our friendship blossomed and I ended up supplanting her friend, Joyce, who hated me because she was very threatened by me. She could see how well we got along and she was rightly concerned about being displaced.

Thirty years have passed since that party. We have been through a myriad of things together, It hasn't always been easy and blissful. We have had our fights and periods of not talking. During all of it, I have grown and learned so much because of her....because of our friendship. She has been a shining light and that one friend that loves me, supports me and understands me no matter how much I might fuck up. She is there for me and that means everything.

Now you might think that means we live in the same city or at least near enough to "be there" for each other but we haven't lived in the same state as each other since we were 23. Our friendship has survived because of hundreds of written letters, hours upon hours on the phone and the occasional flight out to see each other. I don't believe for a minute that you need someone to be in the physical vicinity in order to maintain a close relationship with them. If they mean something to you, you will make the effort to keep the communication alive. And really...there it is....the key to any truly good relationship...communication.

People look at a beautiful person and automatically assume they are stupid. Why do we do that? Is it to make ourselves somehow feel superior? We are dismissive and assume they are shallow and full of ego. Beautiful people can experience all the same insecurities we all face but the only difference is, they don't generally get a lot of empathy or understanding that this is the case.

Shannon has always been a lover of literature, beautiful art and beautiful things. She is very intelligent. She made me feel positively dumb at times because she had such a voracious appetite for books and art from early on. I was in such a dark place back then, I was just trying to claw my way out to see some light. She was a shiny bright light for me to follow to find my way out.

Shannon is soft, feminine, and openhearted. No matter how many times her heart breaks, she still manages to keep her heart open so that she can love again. I have always been so guarded, cautious, hard, with a heart frozen in layers. Not many have been able to make it past the layers of ice and the bouncers that sit at the door to my heart. I admire her ability to allow, surrender and be vulnerable. She sparkles. She is adventurous and is a big risk taker. Both are qualities I lack. Her adventurous nature has helped to push me out of my comfort zone at times. She appreciates the little things in life. I mean she really values little gestures. Little loving gestures mean the world to her.

Shannon is dramatic, colorful and passionate. Her enthusiasm makes me laugh and she makes my whole life more colorful and better. There is nothing boring about this woman. She is spontaneous. I am so not but wish I were more so. She lives in the now. She isn't consumed with what happened last year. She doesn't fret about planning out life for the future because she is too busy living right now to concern herself. I think that is a beautiful quality. Previously, I have spent far too much of my life living in both the past and the future.

Shannon is fearless in her pursuit of her dreams and she is supportive of the dreams of others. She chased her dreams and stuck her neck out to give it her best shot. She has faced rejection and obstacles but she never gives up. Maybe her dreams evolve, grow and change, but she never stops taking steps to make her dreams come true. And if you have a dream, she is there to support you, tell you how talented you are and how you should follow your dreams too.I didn't get a lot of support for my dreams or what I was interested in growing up, so her faith and support has been invaluable to me. I have been so proud of her working her way up to taking on big responsibilities that I would never been brave enough to do. She is a make-up artist and opened her own business called Blush and Lashes. And then she opened her own modeling agency, Hello Gorgeous Models, at the encouragement of one of the models she worked with when she was working as a make-up artist. She works so hard and it can be really challenging on many levels for her, but she never gives up.

She takes being a parent very seriously and her children mean the world to her. To those she chooses to have close to her, she is very loyal to and would defend like a mama lion defends her cubs. I feel sorry for the person who dares to make her cross or unfairly treats someone she loves. She is full of fire and fierce. She isn't afraid of confrontation if the situation calls for it.

Remember when I said how important communication is to keeping a relationship alive? Yeah, she is great at that. She communicates well. She shares what she is feeling easily and is always ready to listen as well. Talking with her is gratifying because it is a mutual exchange. Some people you talk to it feels like you are talking to a wall. I almost said it is like talking to yourself but I actually answer myself so that doesn't work. lol Talking to a wall sucks and I have never felt that with Shannon. She empathizes, gets angry with me for those who have hurt me or offers loving advice when I need it. When I am happy and have something I want to share, she is the one I want to share it with because I know she will share in my joy as if it were her own experience and joy.

Through our difficult times Shannon has taught me forgiveness. She has been the first to end the silence and ask for reconciliation. Remember, her heart is open so it has helped her be forgiving also.

Shannon is social...in-person social. She is light-hearted, laughs often and loves to play. I tend to be quite introverted and she often drags me out of my proverbial shell. When we are together, we can be silly and laugh and play. Some of my favorite and most playful memories were made with her. Some of the craziest predicaments I have been in were with her. And when we talk about the stories we created together, we still laugh and laugh.

Shannon is my true love, my soul sister, my very best friend. We both have other true loves that are blood ties, but the true love between friends is one of choice which makes it a precious flower worthy of being tenderly cared for because it enhances our life and makes it better with them in it.

I love you, Shannon!

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