The title of today’s blog is from a song we used to sing when I was in Girl Scouts. I had a short career with it (I was a Daisy and a Brownie – that’s it), but that song I carry with me always.
I made friends with Willy yesterday. He’s a musician. Going to school somewhere in Grand Rapids. He’s older. Gray hair. Mixed? No teeth. From Milwaukee. Plays the harmonica, guitar, and piano. Likes to play classic rock and soul. His drink of choice for an afternoon in Rosa Parks Circle is a very tall Budweiser and he can let it rip when he gets his buzz on, so he tells me.
I was sitting at a table at the edge of the circle enjoying a lamb gyro on a wheat pita with cucumber sauce, tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, and feta cheese, which I washed down with a Biggby coffee, while waiting for my friends to get downtown for the Carrie Underwood concert. It was overcast but warm and there was a street performer playing his guitar to synthesized music in front of a diner-esque restaurant nearby. Willy threw out some sort of comment – be it about the weather, music, or a general greeting, I cannot say – but it was directed at me. I couldn’t hear what he was saying; it just sounded like a short jumble of words. I don’t know what compelled me but I answered, “What?” I repeated my question several times before I decided it was foolish to yell across the circle. So I packed up my lunch. I walked over to him and sat down. He looked shocked, scared even, that I would approach him. I struck up a conversation and after a few minutes of hard listening to decipher his style of speech, I could pick up (the majority of) what he was putting down. It was nice, sitting side by side and commenting on the weather, music, and Grand Rapids. I shrugged off the beer and his racist comments and we just enjoyed the afternoon for a while. You can find friends in unexpected places. You just have to be open to it.
Friendships can be difficult things. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my friendships lately. I think it mostly has to do with the impending move back to Grand Rapids. I have to be very deliberate in growing my friendships here but that’s tripped up by the feeling that I’m stepping on toes. After a few years with someone, friendships with people intertwine. I find that I’m working very hard to keep those friendships on my end but I do worry that my intentions will be misinterpreted. It’s like a game. Shuffling around time slots and avoiding topics of conversation. It can be exhausting, but I do believe it’s worth it.
…I miss my friend. Can I put that out there?