When I was a little girl, my best friend’s and my yards were connected by a fence where a tiny opening between our lawns existed.
To the onlooker, it would look like it was made to divide our spaces. To create separation. To define where one’s property ended and the other’s started.
To us, it’s what connected us the most. And the term “meet me at the fence” became one that was a trademark of our childhood and our friendship.
When we weren’t allowed to go to each other’s houses, we’d meet there and make up games that we could play through the pickets.
When our moms needed an extra egg for a recipe, it’s where we would meet to make the exchange and the delivery.
It’s where dozens of whiffle and kick balls ricocheted in one of the hundreds of games we played in their yard.
It’s where we would exchange a five-second wave from each other’s porches, and choose instead to meet at the fence and have a 45-minute conversation about whatever was going on in each other’s lives.
That fence was the foundation of what our friendship was about. We never saw the division, we saw it as a place to connect.
Today, while both of our sets of parents still live in those homes, both my friend and I have moved away into our own. Our fence is no longer 3 feet wide, but 120 miles long.
But we still meet there.
We meet there when she sends me a mother’s day card. We meet there when we have a 60-minute phone conversation despite the attempts of one of the six kids we have between us trying to drown it out in the background. We meet there when I am crying on a bathroom floor and just need someone to be there with me… even if she’s just listening on the phone. We meet there when we choose the other one to be our “person” when we have something we’re struggling with. We meet there when we haven’t talked for weeks, but never lay a guilt trip on the other for it. We meet there when we fight to find time in our calendar to see each other.
That 120-mile fence is long, but so is almost 35 years of friendship. And that’s worth fighting for.
There are a lot of fences between friendships. Sometimes life builds them and you accept that. Sometimes we subconsciously build them on our own.
But what defines that friendship is how we look at that fence.
We either see the pickets as an impossible, impassable division. Or we continue to fight to see the the space between and above those wooden spokes where we can still SEE and connect with each other. No matter how big the pickets and little the space.
Because I am REALLY grateful for that space. That space is a safe one. That space is friendship. That space is home.
And I will never stop fighting to focus on it. Because life is not life without those things… Without the PEOPLE … who remind you how invaluable those things are.
(Love you, friend)