While living in New Delhi, India, my dear friend Janet shared a bounty with us. Inside the box, I found an assortment of fresh produce from her farmhouse garden and at the very bottom was a small, teeny, very quiet and unobtrusive bundle of awesomeness that was labeled "DO NOT EAT!"
Even though the contents of the box were meant to be shared with others (which we did), I had a feeling this note was meant for me personally, and sure enough ... it was a twine-wrapped bunch of spanish onion flowers that Janet had saved just for me, knowing I would appreciate them. Knowing I would appreciate their intricacies, their beauty. They were unique and like nothing else I've seen.
(note: the accompanying photo is from Maddy Baker, via Unsplash as my hard drive isn't allowing me to quickly put my finger on the image of the actual flowers Janet gifted me)
There is something to be said about friendships in an overseas situation that is similar to getting a box of fresh produce from a surprise source.
You can receive a box of produce (or meet a group of individuals) and assume it is just another cardboard container of vegetables. It is another box (like the last) of more cabbage, lettuce and chard, maybe a couple of stalks of celery.
Or you can dig a bit deeper and find the surprise note ... the random new arrival that wants to offer their friendship.
It is a strange thing, this friendship story that we all have a part to play in creating. We can choose to judge, segregate and hold off. Or, we can welcome in, invite over, invest in, or simply smile at.
Sometimes the most surprising friendships are the unlikely relationships. The individuals who do not have children in the same grade. The colleagues who only met in passing at a company function several months prior. The small group of men who are daring enough to approach a table of women and ask "may we join" to then have a deep and philosophical conversation.
Currently, I am very deeply trenched in trying to sort my way through a discussion in my head about friendships - both with those living overseas, and the ones from back home - and I'd love your input.
What makes it so hard to make friends as adults? If you think back to the people who made you feel the most welcome in new or potentially awkward situations, what WAS it exactly that they did to bring you into the fold?
Why is it that we don't offer more of ourselves to others and take advantage of all that beautiful friendships have to offer? Why don't more of us take time to select and hold aside a special gift of friendship, or spanish onion flowers?