You know what is beautiful?

Sunny leaves and breeze ruffling trees, underneath which is a picnic of flatbreads with za’atar and blueberry wheat bread with almond butter, and three ladies laughing and sharing while their children play and run free and easy in the child way. What is beautiful is feeling connection and the closeness of friendship, laying out on moist grass and being open. What is beautiful is being so involved in this beauty that there is no sense of time passing at all.

Three hours later, when it is time to leave, what is beautiful is the honest moment of a friendship developing and the joy of shared understanding that spending time together is so lovely.

I watched my daughter make friends today. There are the shy first moments, then eventually the unabashed freedom that comes from plunging in. We were all sticky, dirty, sunny, content, connection-fed when we got in the car: a great playdate. Making friends has always been an area of mystery for me. I like people, I want to be friends, I tend to see only what is good in them, and I want people to like me, too.  The friends I have now—and you know who you are—are friends really by the grace of their own persistence. I have had to learn how to keep the fields of friendship fertile and maintained. Two of my closest friends, Rosa and Lauren, are friends because they have had the patience to persist and to look over the times when I get hermit-y. I often get caught up in thinking about how to reciprocate, and after getting stuck in the pondering phase of “What can I offer them? What can I suggest we do?” I fail to follow through. Today, though, being present was golden. Rosa, Lauren, and Sana all seem to understand how to be present. There doesn’t need to be big planning with friends, or a fanfare event…friends can just be.

I have worked my whole life to understand the language of friendship, and to understand that I often feel extremely close to people in my head…but that they don’t know it, unless I demonstrate it through actions.

And my hermit-y side doesn’t help. I often try to assess myself: Am I afraid of friend rejection? Selfish? Worried about being laughed at? Part of it, for me, is surely that along with closeness to people comes the possibility of miscommunication, discord, loss, and all the other sad things that can happen when people really care about one another. Relationships are rarely without their less glorious moments, and those are very painful. Still, when I experience moments of real friendship, it feels like one of the most free and joyful feelings in the world. To all of my friends who have shared that beauty with me, I am always so grateful to you. I am constantly working at having something in me to give back to you.

So today was beautiful. A sleep-well kind of day—relaxing, free, easy just to be in the moment. Something about my friend Sana makes me more open to moments and life than I normally feel I am. She makes me feel like more myself. I am glad I took her invitation today (she’s had to be patient with that, goodness knows!). Someday I hope I can turn into one of those people who can extend and extend openly—not sure it is my genes, though. My uptightness (yes, no surprise there, readers—I am joyful and think life is beautiful, but still Type A) will probably always get in the way a little.

I am 31-years-old and still learning about friendship. The ultimate in risk-taking.

So, today I gathered my joy through connecting with others and letting ourselves just be who we are, without fear.