They drove nearly two hours in the Florida heat to sit in a hotel lobby with us while our kids made messes, jumped on sofas, and generally told us what to do. We had planned on grander adventures, but vacations often leave a lackadaisical wake and after a week of lying around you kind of want to just keep lying around. But to have friends that find the charm in eating fast food while your daughter can't decide if she wants a high chair or a booster seat (or neither) is to be in a lucky place, like you're invited to a party and you show up not sure if you're overdressed or underdressed so you're just trying hard to enjoy yourself hoping that someone doesn't come up to you, ask you to put your drink down, and then tell you that you're in the wrong place.
We do not want to keep up with 2,000 one-time-acquaintances on Facebook. We do not want to only hear the highlights of people we knew once, back when we were younger, thinner, and different.
The kind of friends we want are those who will drive and drive just to see your face and the faces of those you love so you can see their faces, too, and together you can continue a conversation that stopped abruptly 18 months ago. The kind of friends we want are those who think eating mediocre burgers and warmed up fries is a great way to spend an afternoon, as long as that food is eaten around the same table with you so we can all look into each others' eyes and laugh some and empathize a lot and know that our heart is happy in the presence of people we care about.
To get that kind of friend, though, we have to be that kind of friend. Don't just "like" the wedding pictures on Facebook; go to the ceremony. Don't leave a congratulatory comment on a new baby picture; cook the new parents a meal. Don't text your happiness when someone graduates; pick up the phone and tell them with your voice.
Facebook doesn't make it easier to be a friend; it simply draws a line in the sand to remind us that the real friends we want in life are worth working for. Friendship that is true and forever takes the same kind of grit and guts that it took to forge lasting friendships in a world before wifi and filtered phone pictures. Friendship takes sacrifice and devotion and humility and patience and kindness and empathy and hope.
Friendship is not a number. It never has been, and it never can be. It is an experience borne of our need to connect with someone who gets us in a way that cannot be conveyed in an online album or expressed with thumbs on a keypad. And to find a friend who knows us and still loves us no matter in what life stage we greet them? Well, that's the kind of friend we need. The kind of friend we want. The kind of friend we have to have to remind us that we're not crazy, that we're not losing it, that it's okay to be just the way we are, and that everything will be okay because if nothing else, we've got a friend.
And if you want that kind of friend, make sure to be that kind of friend. Want two-hour-drive-lobby-friends? Then get in your car and bust it their way next time. Otherwise, just keep clicking "like" from the confines of your recliner in your silent house.
Either way, you've earned it.