February 14, 2024

The Greatest Love of All: In Praise of Friendship on this Valentine’s Day.

The ebb and flow of romantic love has been a constant in my story.

I have been single for most of my adult life, though I have been fortunate to have had great romantic relationships at assorted points along the timeline.

I’ve arrived at a time in my life where I have tremendous gratitude for what has been, joy for what is, and hope for what lies ahead.

Yet on this holiday of candy hearts and flowers, of sappy songs and restaurant dinners, what I find conspicuously absent—aside from the emergence of Galentine’s events—is what has been the greatest love of my life: friendship.

Put simply, I have amazing friends.

This, I feel, is a thing that should be celebrated more. Friendship, in all its many forms, just may be our most valuable resource on this planet that so needs more genuine connection.

And so, here is my celebration of friendship, in hopes that it may inspire you to similar appreciation:

To the friends who are also family. Those who welcomed me into this world, kept me safe, and encouraged me to learn and question and grow. I love you.

To the friends I have known since childhood. Those kindred spirits, our meeting first when we were so sloppily human, gelatinous, and unformed. The way we weathered the many iterations over the decades since, arriving still at appreciation of one another. I love you.

To the newer friends, those ties more silver than gold, or even still green on the vine. To the way an easy laugh or a genuine conversation can spark a new beginning at any time in life. I love you.

To the friends at a distance, our relationship sustained by letters and phone calls and texts. To the way, no matter how much time or how many miles pass between us, we always can reconnect in an instant, walk and talk and laugh as if the time before were just yesterday. I love you.

To those former romantic loves who have become true friends. There is something exceptional, I think, about doing the work it takes to move past a breakup, to let go, and then to find a new place in the heart for a different kind of love. I love you.

To those no longer with us here on earth—from those who burned too hot and fast in this world, sparkling and crackling until the light went suddenly out, to those who lived more simply and deliberately, gently and kindly, and then were taken by illness—you are still with me. In the words of e.e. cummings: I carry your heart in my heart. I love you.

To those friends I do not yet know. Those I think of daily, even though our paths have yet to cross. Those suffering or struggling in this too-harsh world. Those working to make a difference. Those making art and music, those tending gardens and nurturing our planet, those caring for children, animals, the sick, the elderly. Those doing the everyday things that fill my heart and make me hope I someday know you. I love you.

And lastly, to those reading these words now. Those ready to normalize telling their friends: I love you. Go ahead and do it—put yourself out there and make it weird. I bet it won’t be weird at all. I bet they’ll laugh, and smile, and you’ll have made their day.

I bet they will say: I love you too.


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