All You Need is Love  

Posted by inkstainedhands in , ,

I love, love, love my friends. But this post is dedicated to the three with whom I spent the time between finals today in school -- the three who can make me just relax and stop worrying about my finals and think about how fortunate I am in having such friends.

Mornings are not the happiest of times during the school year, especially after you have had a grand total of four hours of sleep the night before and are quite stressed and would like nothing more than to hibernate and not have to do anything or speak to anyone. But I am very fortunate in that there are three very lovely individuals whose smiles brighten my mornings when I come to school. I do not enjoy mornings, and therefore I was very shocked as, when I was about to go to sleep late one night, I thought to myself that I am very excited for the morning to come, so I can wake up and go to school. And why was I so looking forward to that? Because I would see my three wonderful, amazing, delightful friends. And when I am looking forward to waking up so I can see someone, you know that they are really something special. And they are.

We often say that we are like a family -- and we are. We are there for each other, we listen, we discuss, we comfort, we advise, we smile, we laugh. They are the kinds of people that I can just run up to and randomly hug.

I am only sorry that next year we will no longer be together there. I hope that we will always be together, but there is something special about seeing each other every day in school and spending most lunchtimes together -- in the library or sitting around the piano in the auditorium -- that cannot be duplicated. I feel like I have finally found my place, like I am a part of something beautiful and special, and I do not want this to end. Who knows? Perhaps a year from now we will all be sitting together around another piano, in someone's living room, saying, "Remember when...?" and feeling as if it happened so long ago, when in reality not that much time has passed. I certainly hope that despite our different paths in life and plans for the future years, we will all find time to get together, like a family at a Shabbat dinner table. All the members have their own lives, their own places and responsibilities, but they all come together regularly and unite once more.

So who are these three beautiful individuals who make me smile and laugh and be joyful and thankful for my life? There is Selene*, whom I have known since pre-school. There is Elise*, whom I met a number of years ago. And then there is Annie*, who caught my attention quite unexpectedly when she came to my school last year. What boggles my mind every day though is how we all found each other and how everything connected so perfectly. (I am actually still not quite sure how that happened....)

Selene is a bright, mature, responsible girl with a heart of gold. (Actually, all three of them have a heart of gold.) She is thoughtful and grounded, and she thinks about things thoroughly before accepting them. She cares about the truth and stands up for it. She is not afraid to speak about what she thinks is right, even if by doing so she alienates herself from the rest of the class. She feels strongly, and the way in which she expresses her feelings proves the intensity of them. She is dedicated to her beliefs and will not be swayed or influenced by popular opinion. This is the kind of girl that will never give in to peer pressure. She knows who she is and what she stands for, and she will not give it up even if she is outnumbered five to one in a debate. She does not try to be who she is not in order to fit in, and one of the things I love so much about her is her frankness. You always know where you stand with her and you know that all her words are sincere. There are no mind games and there is no manipulation -- everything is straightforward, honest, and clear. If she says something, she means it, and if something needs to be discussed, it is done without melodrama. You don't have to play guessing games with her or constantly wonder whether she means what she says. If something is wrong, she will tell you directly, instead of pretending that all is fine and well and leaving you frustrated, wondering what that is all about. Unfortunately, it has become so common for girls to be manipulative in their social interactions that a gem like Selene is hard to come by. Talking to her is wonderfully refreshing because she is opinionated, well-spoken, and multi-faceted. I keep discovering new things about her every day and there is no such thing as running out of things to discuss when we are having a conversation. Selene can be both serious and lighthearted, depending on the situation, and conversations can go from being light to being deep in a matter of minutes. But no matter what the conversation is about, she would never allow a hurtful word to pass her lips when she is speaking to her friends. Even if my opinion ever differs from hers, she does not deride me for it or imply even through a facial expression that I might be wrong. I have plenty of friends who will look at me as if I have grown a second head if I do so much as think, act, or dress outside the box. But Selene can appreciate a person's individuality instead of criticizing it. In fact, she values people who feel comfortable enough in their own skin that they do not feel they need to conform. And she is that type of person herself. She is not afraid to be different and to make up her own rules instead of going along with the rest of the mindless herd. Selene is Selene, and nobody can take that away from her. And when she smiles, her whole face just lights up, and it is so beautiful to behold. She smiles with her eyes, and they sparkle and glow, and it just makes you want to smile along with her -- and I do.

Elise is one of the most easygoing people I know. When I first met her, I was dazzled by how high on life she seemed. She smiled easily, she cracked jokes, and she was like a little ball of energy that just keeps on bouncing. If someone sneaks up behind me and unexpectedly envelops me in a hug, it is most likely to be Elise. She spreads joy wherever she goes, and the effect it has on our little group is palpable. Even when she is going through something difficult, she still has enough of that energy of hers to make all the rest of us feel good. She cares deeply for her friends and is always willing to lend an ear or a shoulder. She is the embodiment of compassion, empathy, and kindness, and there is in her what can only be described as absolute goodness. I have yet to meet another person who cares so deeply about her friends and feels for them as keenly as if it had been for herself. If a friend is in pain, Elise is in pain. But she does not limit her compassion to merely feeling; she takes it upon herself to make her friends feel better, using as much of her time and energy as necessary. When a friend needs to vent, Elise is there to listen and advise, and when the friend does not wish to speak, Elise does everything that is in her power to show that she cares. And often, that is just as important as anything else. When you know that there is someone who cares about you and loves you and wishes to make you happy, life already seems a bit brighter. Her deep and unabated concern for her friends presses her to do more than superficially ask, "Is everything all right?" Elise does not just speak -- she acts. She is able to understand people and to read into their actions in order to see that something is bothering them. Elise is able to put her own needs aside in order to focus on those of her friends, and you do not get the feeling that she would rather be doing something else. When she focuses her attention on you, you know that you matter and that she wants to hear what you have to say. She is not just asking if you are okay to be nice -- she actually wants to hear what is going on in your life and what is bothering you. She is so unbelievably sincere. She has a very deep sense of right and wrong and she does not just act without thinking. Elise does not just go with what feels 'fun' -- she allows her conscience to lead her. She also believes in the goodness of her friends and wants to believe the best of them, and she helps people believe in themselves. Elise is like a ray of sunshine, lighting up the room and putting some light into lives that would otherwise be governed by stress and worries. She can make you forget everything else, and that is a wonderful thing when the "everything else" consists of finals, assignments, and responsibilities.

Annie is another little ray of sunshine... and a breath of fresh air. She is the kind of person you can spot in an auditorium with three hundred people because of her bright red gorgeous curly hair. And when I need to find my friends, I usually use that bobbing red ponytail as my guide as I weave through the crowd of high school students. And honestly, her hair color could not be more perfect to describe the type of person she is. She is bubbly, lively, and full of energy -- kind of like the little Energizer Bunny you see in commercials, except ten times more. She just keeps going and going, until you start to wonder if her batteries ever need recharging. (I somehow doubt it.) There is never a dull moment around her, and if there is not enough in life to keep us all amused, she will make sure to find something. I first met Annie last yet, when I was working as a librarian in my school's library. She marched into the library, saw that I was working there, and asked me if I could recommend any books on a certain theme. It seemed that she was determined to find a book that would back up a point she was trying to make, and all I could think of was, "Well, this is certainly a change!" Usually, girls' requests are more along the lines of, "Ugh.. I need a book for my report. Do you have any books from the reading list that are short?" or "Can you just find me something good from this list the teacher gave us for the report?" And there was Annie, this young freshman, who was bold and assertive and knew exactly what she wanted. I soon realized that the books I was trying to recommend her she had already read. And that is one of the things I love about Annie -- her thirst for knowledge and for understanding. She does not just go through the motions of everyday life, doing whatever she has to but nothing else. Annie does things for herself, not just because she 'has to.' She is the type of person who will actually read a book if I recommend it, instead of saying, "Oh, it sounds interesting" and never touching it. She is open-minded and willing to listen to what you have to say, and if she disagrees with you, she will say so. However, even if she disagrees, she will allow you to try to persuade her if your argument is logical and reasonable. She does not accept things blindly, but if what you say makes sense, she will give it further thought and consideration. But she is not a little marionette, to be manipulated at will. Annie is strong and independent. Annie is Annie, and she stays true to herself no matter what. She does not have this mentality of "I have to hide my true self in order to fit in" which seems prevalent among teenagers. She does not need to fit in. She does not have to pretend -- not when she is with friends and not when she is with teachers. She is outgoing and talkative, and I doubt that there is a shy bone in her body. Most of all, she reminds me of Annie from the 1982 musical film of the same name. She does not let her age impede her. She has no problem asking an adult frank questions or interrogating a complete stranger. I recently witnessed her begin a conversation with an adult in school she had never met before, and she was perfectly comfortable saying exactly what was on her mind. I saw the way the woman smiled at her, somewhat surprised at being thus openly addressed and inquired as to her identity. "Only Annie," I thought to myself. What I love about Annie is that you feel so comfortable around her, no matter who you are... well, unless you are an ill-equipped teacher whose theories have just been shattered by Annie's logic. And that is precisely what I love about Annie. She thinks and she examines life and challenges ideas and people in order to come to the right conclusions, and that can lead to the most interesting conversations. And we all know that I love interesting conversations.

Selene, Elise, and Annie all have hearts of gold, and it is so pleasant just to be around them. They are not judgmental; they allow you to be yourself and love you for it. Do you know how amazing it is to be loved for who you are -- for the real version -- and not feeling as if you have to hide certain parts of yourself because your friends would not 'approve' of them? It is delightful.

What I used to do during lunchtimes or free periods or breaks was considerably more antisocial than what I do now. I used to find a nice little staircase or corner in the school and spend all my free time writing. And now... now I seek out Selene, Elise, and Annie because they are some of the most amazing people ever and every minute I spend with them is delightful. And I always wonder, What did I do to deserve such wonderful friends? (I am still not quite sure of the answer.) All I know is that I am fortunate in having them in my life (and that also applies to all my other friends that I did not write about here).

I love and adore you guys, and you mean the world to me.

*Names have been changed.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 18, 2010 at Monday, January 18, 2010 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .



January 18, 2010 at 11:04 PM

I hope you let them read this blog!

January 29, 2010 at 6:16 AM

Yes, I sent them a link. :]

January 29, 2010 at 12:58 PM
A Concerned Reader  

You should do another story with Annie! She's sounds really interesting (and kinda cute:)

December 4, 2010 at 10:01 AM
A Concerned Reader  

You should do another story with Annie! She sounds really interesting (and kinda cute:)

December 5, 2010 at 9:49 PM

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