Cindy and I, on one of our long, chilly walks around Rexburg.
I've known Cindy since I moved to North Carolina in fifth grade. The first two years of our acquaintanceship were inconsequential, but after a birthday party of a mutual friend where we didn't really have anyone to talk to but each other, things started to change. We discovered we both loved writing and Harry Potter. Apparently that's all it took. One Saturday afternoon visit turned into two, which turned into a sleepover, which turned into multi-day sleepovers every month or so. By that time, I was completely hooked on Cindy's love for classic literature, Broadway musicals, and long walks through the woods. God knew how badly I needed this beautiful, interesting, fun, smart, talented, spiritual person in my life.
After a little drama on my part (trying to decide what school I was going to,) and a little nervousness on Cindy's part (wondering if we were going to drive each other crazy,) we decided to room together in college. Best. Decision. Ever. Cindy and I enjoyed being English majors, going to concerts on campus, sitting outside on a blanket for entire summers, and just living in the kind of environment that only BYU-Idaho can offer.
We also looked after each other, in a way that only roommates and girls and best friends can. We saw each other through a lot of emotional turmoil, with hard classes, newfound independence, and of course, guys. And yes, there were days when I hurt Cindy's feelings, or she hurt mine, or both, but at the end of the day, we always found reasons to be grateful for each other. It was a wonderful, beautiful thing. I miss those days...I think about Cindy all the time.
About 7 years into our friendship, Cindy met a wonderful man named Mahon, and if you know anything about them, you already know that they're probably the happiest, most loving married couple ever to exist. I was privileged to be Cindy's maid of honor, and loved seeing her so, so happy.
Still do, in fact.
No, Cindy no longer functions as my best friend. I don't tell her all my secrets, or all the funny things that happen during my day, or my silly-or-otherwise plans for the future. But regardless, I treasure what we've had and hope that we will continue to keep a special, deep place in our hearts for each other. She singlehandedly kept me afloat, kept me holding on, in a time in my life when I didn't have anything else. To tell you the truth, I didn't even have me.
I think it's because Cindy helped me stabilize who I am that Tim has helped me to change so much. (I think he's little uncomfortable that he fills this "best friend" role, but he probably should have thought of that before he started spending all of his time with me. :) )
Tim and I, after a lovely night of ballroom dancing - on my birthday, even!
You know, I'd never really thought about how alike Tim and Cindy are before, which is probably why I find it so baffling right now...
For one, they are undeniably intellectual. Cindy and Tim always have such interesting things to say about things they've read, and have figured out so many problems, and explored so many options. Talking to them is, without fail, an enjoyable experience, simply because they have so much brain, and they care deeply about the things they think about. Plus, Tim and Cindy work hard to do the right thing no matter what, demonstrating both diligence and spirituality. The most helpful insights I have ever received have been from these two vastly intelligent people - and they give them to me all the time.
They both struggle with their health, and have for a long time. Cindy and Tim have very different health issues, of course, but the stress of doctors' appointments, insurance, medication, and being "different" and "limited" is a familiar experience to both of them. They invite me to be understanding and nurturing, and their experiences inspire me to appreciate my own wellbeing so much more.
Tim and Cindy are both extroverts, but possibly as a result of problematic health, the intense need for people and fun is quickly followed by an intense need for silence and rest. No matter what extreme they're in, they need physical touch in order to feel loved. Being a little more even keeled myself, I love going along for the ride as they have their highs and lows. And at the end of the day, who doesn't want to sit close to someone you love and watch a well-written, funny TV show? I have many fond memories like that with both Cindy and Tim. And I, too, love physical affection.
They're creative, whether it's art, poetry, dance, whatever. They're predominantly visual people, with an undeniable penchant for music and words. They're also curious. They appreciate adventure, emotions, and the wisdom (and JOY) that comes from experience. While they are certainly more passionate about visual arts, dance, and music than I am, not to mention better at it, I'm completely fascinated by people like them. I'm also fascinated by adventure and words (Does "British Literary Pilgrimage 2010" mean anything to you? :) ) so we're certainly in good company there!
But even with all of these similarities, I don't think that Tim and Cindy could ever really be friends with each other. They simply have very, very different philosophies about life. Cindy favors industry, tangible results, duty, and convention. She plays by the rules, and she's good at it. I can't tell you the number of funny looks I've gotten from her over the years, the number of times she told me to be reasonable, to get to work, to focus on my chosen destination. Because of her, I have deep, conservative roots, and a love and understanding of social norms because of the benefits they have to offer.
But by the fall of 2008, I'd taken this advice too far. I was sadly uptight, yet occasionally a bit flippant - a stellar professional with this inexplicable goofy streak. With Cindy's excellent influence, I'd gotten good at conforming to the system - I just forgot to figure out what made me happy.
That's when I met Tim. Tim encourages me find my own version of happiness, now that "the rules" are securely under my skin. He reminds me that sometimes the "rules" I perceive are really a result of my skewed perspective - so why follow them if they're erroneous AND they make me unhappy? He's the guy who encouraged me to skip class when I was having a hard day, for example, and who tells me it's OK that I talk his ear off sometimes. He thinks it's OK that people are strange, because he knows that finding your certain kind of strangeness in someone else often forges the deepest bonds. He values connection over convention.
Tim is spontaneous. He loves to break from the norm, question the rules, and live in the moment.
"Joy is in the journey," Tim tells me.
...And what a joyful journey it's been.