Friendships are Like Plants

Friendships during COVID have changed a lot. Almost every day a friend who I haven’t seen in a really long time pops into my head and I think, “I should reach out to her.” And then either I don’t reach out or I start a text thread that peters out after a few exchanges. So much time has gone by. I can’t quite remember what friends do. Sometimes I can’t even remember why we were friends in the first place.

I wonder if these friends feel the same way about me. Do they feel self-conscious and out of practice reaching out to me and other friends? Do they have the same trepidations about reigniting forgotten friendships?

Friendships are like plants. They need to be watered and they need sunlight. When they are deprived of either life force, they die. Some friendships are like orchids — sensitive, needing the perfect administration of water and the exact amount of indirect light. They need constant attention and communication. Other friendships are more like succulents. Almost anyone can grow a succulent. They seem to survive in any exposure, with erratic watering, or even neglect.

Last week at the exact moment I was thinking about one of my old friends who I haven’t seen in months, she texted me. “Thinking about you and wanted to say hi,” she wrote. Because there was magic in the synergy of our thoughts colliding at that exact moment, I wrote her back right away.

“I just quit my job. Do you want to go on a walk during your lunch break?” I bravely texted back, breaking through all of my built-up barriers like the Incredible Hulk crashing through a brick wall.

We made a plan for that Friday. It was pouring at my house when I got in the car to go downtown but I knew my friend would be prepared with a raincoat so I ran inside to get my rain jacket and threw it in the car. Miraculously the sun came out as soon as we started to walk and we didn’t need coats.

We marched through downtown, up and down hills in the sunshine, non-stop talking for the entire hour. There was no rain, but as we walked and caught up with each other, we were watering each other’s leaves, feeding each other’s roots. It felt nourishing and restorative. I had one less friend in the sad basement room of struggling plants.

I got in my car to go home and within five minutes it started hailing. The weather alone was telling me that this friendship date was surely meant to be. I was affirmed of my courageous social efforts and made a commitment to reconnect with more friends.