Forging Fabulous Friendships
By Ann Ipock
I began writing this column with the emphasis on our world being so small. Oddly, I ended it with the emphasis on friendship being so large! And I am reminded of a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “I didn’t find my friends; the good God gave them to me.”
Two friends have recently come into my life, and I am both happy and humbled. Both occurrences were spontaneous and life-changing. One, a new friend, a single woman, Jessica, lives at the end of my street. The other, an old high-school classmate, Carol, lives a mere three streets away.
There are more contrasts than similarities between them – Jessica, then Carol, respectively: younger vs. older, single vs. married, childless vs. having children and grandchildren, a mover-and-shaker in the health care industry vs. a manager retired from a power company. Both are attractive tall brunettes, smart, fun, gregarious, resourceful and self-confident. Both have brought energy and excitement into my life: Jessica, whom I dub Miss Socialite, brings knowledge of fashion trends and pop culture. She’s a connector and loves to help others by bringing people together. Carol is more of a mac ‘n cheese kinda girl. (She calls ALL adults “girls” and “boys.”) She brings nostalgia mixed with a can-do attitude and lots of playfulness. Optimism and generosity are two of her strongest suits.
Jessica and I have quite a bit in common – most incredibly, the same exact BIRTHDAY; also, the same china pattern, Classic Collection by Nikko, our love of shagging and beach music and a medical/dental background.
But, Carol and I have even more in common: same age, same high school alma mater (an hour from our present homes) and the same background. Both of our families owned shoe-related businesses: mine, retail shoe stores: Carol’s, shoe repair shops.
Funny, but I met Jessica not through high-tech social media like you might have expected, such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, but a TRUE social media – an old-fashioned, though always trendy sport – walking! Upon seeing Jessica outside in her front yard with her teacup Chihuahua, I don’t know which I found more engaging, Jessica or Sassy Martini. Sassy melted my heart, such a sweet baby! If you picture Jessica’s puppy with a pearl necklace, monogrammed pillows on her sofa and beach music wafting out of her iPod, you get a pretty accurate description of preppy Jessica.
I re-met Carol in a polar opposite way: the high-tech route of Facebook. And yet, when Carol messaged me, I had no idea who she was. Unlike me, she didn’t include her maiden name on her Facebook page. Once she cleared that up, she messaged me for weeks from Birmingham, Alabama, where her husband’s business is located. She planned to come to her Wilmington home soon, she said, and I just kept hoping! One night at dusk, after finishing up dinner, I saw this odd movement at the end of my sidewalk. What? A girl on a bicycle, flapping her arms not unlike a wild bird. I did a double take, dropped my pork chop and marched forward to see what all the fuss was about. It was Carol! She came inside, and we laughed – even snorting at times – for hours. It was as if the forty-some years of absence just melted away.
In fact, we couples have become such good friends that Carol and Frank invited us to Destin, Florida, where they have an ocean villa, to spend a week’s vacation. We had a blast! Hub Russ and Frank played golf, Carol and I stayed on the beach. We ate out several times and went shopping – even “junking” as Carol calls it. She is an antiques aficionado and dabbles in sales.
Well, the rest is history – at least, with Carol. It’s been a case of reliving a lot of the past, and yet, planning a lot for the future. With Jessica, it’s been more of a case of getting to know each other and oohing and aahing over the continued, “It’s a small world” similarities we share – mutual friends, favorite clothes and even functions we attend.
And because our daughter, Katie, is much closer in age to Jessica, they have also become very good friends – having dinner together, drinking wine on our front porch and now meeting each other’s friends. Jessica, the connector, is even trying to help Katie secure a nursing job. So with yet another friendship, several words come to mind: synchronicity, serendipity, God winks.
But back to Carol, who among her many talents, is also an event planner extraordinaire, and with Katie’s upcoming wedding to Michael in October, she has offered much welcomed input – bordering genius – on colors, flowers, menu, etc. Carol’s daughter, Christie, an interior designer in Raleigh, has even helped us finalize the colors for the wedding.
On a recent evening at Carol’s home where she prepared a huge dinner for Russell’s birthday – this girl can COOK like it’s nobody’s business – we six gathered together, including Katie and Jessica. It was great fun watching Carol and Jessica get to know each other. Maybe it was the awesome meal – finger-licking ribs with all the trimmings or the perfect wine accompaniment or even the birthday cake, but something wonderful happened.
Carol, already hosting Katie’s bridesmaids’ luncheon in her home, asked Jessica if she’d like to host the bachelorette party. The latter will be held at Carol’s beach home fifteen miles away. In the sweep of a hand, we were looking at party invitation samples and planning yet another celebration of friendship.
About this writer
- Ann Ipock iis an award-winning Southern humorist and speaker who writes for the Georgetown Times, Sasee and Columbia County Magazine. Ann lives in Wilmington, N.C. with her husband, Russell. Life is Short, I Wish I Was Taller (published October, 2010) completes the Life is Short trilogy. Contact Ann through her website, www.annipock.com.