I’ve figured out a few more things about myself on my self-discovery journey. One key characteristic, an analogy actually: I’m like a rowboat tethered on a long line. I bob around, up and down with the waves, north, south, east and west with the wind, but I have a very strong anchor and a very long line connected to it. Sometimes I travel quite some distance from the anchor, but the anchor is always there. That works for me.

Friends mean the world to me but most of my deepest friendships are with people who live more than fifty miles from where I live. Most of those friendships span at least two decades. At the risk of stating the obvious, deep friendship builds over time. Friendships often start at times of mutual volatility and each person helps the other through it. From the outside looking in, some of those friendships seem unlikely. Opposites attract on some level, but sometimes the similarities are what connect people.

My longest-lasting friendship started in high school. He and I are still in touch, mostly due to his persistence. Now that he finally discovered email, we are in touch more often and it is interesting to see some of the turns his life is taking. Our friendship began during our volatile teen years and our connection was our ability to share thoughts about what we were going through at the time. We also helped each other figure out girls. Clearly we weren’t much help in that regard but the conversations were interesting.

He is one of the few people in my life who can probably describe what anchors me and he can probably identify those parts of me that haven’t changed over time – the good parts and the bad parts. I wonder if he would understand the irony of his toast as best man in my first wedding: “This is one thing you can’t run away from.” He was wrong and yet part of that was based on an accurate observation. Sometimes that haunts me.

Another friend from high school who I am still in touch with (email is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?) probably knows more about me than anyone. That friendship was also born during a volatile time, but a time of learning and exploration of that magical, insane, unexplainable thing called love. One of the biggest ironies in that situation is that she and I are probably better friends now than we would have been if our high school romance had continued through college and beyond.

From the inside looking in, my life appears to be nothing but volatility. But to play off my analogy, I’m still anchored; I’m just in the middle of a hurricane. The anchor is holding and the line is strong. Part of that strength comes from friendships, both the long-lasting ones and the newer developing ones. I freely admit to using my friends, but in a good way: I use them to keep me sane. Some of them use me the same way. I welcome that.

I have been actively developing new friendships, one in particular. I’ve been actively reconnecting with older friends, especially the ones who live less than 50 miles from me. I am happy to say that some of those friendships are still solid and it feels great to see how things turned out in their lives; it’s also cool to see how some things still connect us. And I am grateful beyond words that I am still friends with the two friends from high school.

In some ways, all of my friends are riding in my rowboat with me. I appreciate that they trust the strength of my rope and my anchor. They are the reason those things are strong.