It’s well known that Blanche DuBois famously depended upon the kindness of strangers – and that has never been more true, it seems, than now, with strangers helping those on the other side of the world to survive. It is, however, the kindness of friends that I write about today, those who get us through our lives on a daily basis, sometimes through actual crises, many times through a crisis of confidence, and oftentimes through the it’s-only-a-crisis-in-my-own-mind bad haircut.
Here then are my shout-outs to my circle of friends, past and present, who have been my comforts and confidants, my lifejackets, my runway lights. To wit:
To those lifelong friends whom I’ve known since high school and college (is that really more than four decades ago?), I couldn’t imagine life without your ongoing narration and without your shoulders to cry on, to lean on, and to pat. We’ve been mirrors for each other for so long, and your acts of giving – in being there through the tough times (the loss of parents, a lymphoma diagnosis, a job not gotten), the joyful times (yay! I’m getting married), and the ordinary times (like assuring me that yes, I really can write, and no, forgetting where I’ve put my glasses for the thousandth time and finding them on top of my head – again – is no cause for alarm) – are priceless. Your kindnesses lie in seeing beyond yourselves to empathize and, remarkably, to know the right thing to say. Always.
To those friends I’ve made in what I call the West Coast portion of my life, the last 25 years or so, since I’ve moved to California. You are the ones who have known me only as a full-grown adult (or as full-grown as any of us may get). The ones who have met me at a time when one might surmise from my exterior that I’ve matured (some days more so than others) into a mostly confident, mostly collected, and mostly cool person. Your kindnesses include embracing me and welcoming me into your lives while seeing through those 3 c’s to the vulnerable person beneath and loving her anyway. You understand my anxiety and champion me nonetheless. You have taught me to celebrate myself because you celebrate me.
Most recently, I am in awe of all of you who have supported my heart and my art by reading and sharing my first novel with your world. If it is, indeed, a fairy tale for women (shameless plug here), you all are my Princes and Princesses Charming (although the novel is about women becoming their own heroines, the analogy is still a good one). So, a million times I say thank you for your love, your kindness, and your commitment to my endeavors – my appreciation knows no bounds at your generosity of spirit.
And of course, there’s B. “Kind” is the first word I’d use to describe him (followed, of course, by “irresistible,” but I digress). Because we didn’t marry until we were in our late 30’s, we both had the chance to learn about ourselves and what truly mattered to us in a partner. Sense of humor? Absolutely. Intelligence? Without a doubt. Passion? Hell, yes. But mostly – kindness. For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In kindness always.
I wear a heart-shaped pin on my denim jacket that says “Kind.” It reminds me to keep kindness at the heart of my interactions and, hopefully, lets others know the sort of person I want to be.
The kind who makes a difference.
©2022 Claudia Grossman