Key to life
Jan. 10, 2011 at midnight
Updated Jan. 10, 2011 at 7:11 p.m.
By Myra Starkey
Most everyone has lots of people they know on a casual basis, but there are a much smaller number who we might consider as actual friends. And most likely, there is only a handful of folks who we would count as intimate friends. Close friends come over to your house and eat, and then you all sit around and talk for several hours at the table until you realize it's way late, but nobody was looking at their watch. True friends tell you how they feel and don't just say that "everything's fine." You know their problems, and they know yours, and you still like each other just the same. Good friends are people who you can get together with, and when they ask what activities are planned, you can tell them that nothing is planned other than just hanging around, so bring a book to read and maybe some tennis shoes in case we go on a walk.
It seems we are all on this highway we call life. And we buzz down the road in our bus full of family and friends and we see nameless strangers who pass by our window going the other direction to places we never know. Sometimes we peer out and see folks who look just like us, and their bus is going down the same road at the same speed in the next lane, and we wonder how our lives might be different if we knew them.
There are so many people who I wish I knew better if I only had the time. Susan and Bob are a couple who Taylor and I have known for many years, but we have just never gotten together. They are about our same age. They have two boys and a girl just like we do. Both husbands are local physicians, and both Susan and I worked in our husbands' medical practice. Their youngest son, Ryan, is good friends with our oldest two kids, and despite all of these similarities, we have never spent any time together as couples. It takes a lot of effort to step outside my comfort box and make new friends, especially when I am so comfortable with my "old" friends.
Last year, I planned and carried out Hannah's wedding without any major glitches. All of a sudden, I had valuable knowledge to share with other "mothers of the bride." I had researched everything from wedding dresses to flowers, from invitations to printed napkins, and not wanting any of this to go to waste, I kept a small diary just hoping someone would ask me to help! Within weeks of the wedding, several of my friends had weddings to plan for their daughters, and I had something I could share. Susan's daughter, Erin, had gotten engaged, and she called to ask me a couple of questions, and once again our paths crossed. We met several times to talk about her daughter's wedding, and each time I felt that I would really like to get to know her better.
We planned to meet several times for dinner with husbands, but schedules always got in the way and months passed. Our plans for dinner had failed at the last minute several times, so I thought maybe an impromptu dinner might work and called a few days ago to see if they would join us for seafood at our house. I wanted to prepare a poblano chile stuffed with shrimp, goat cheese and panela. Bob is an accomplished cook, and Susan volunteered him to prepare an appetizer and dessert.
The next day, I was running short of time and did not get to "clean house." Normally, if I am entertaining someone for the first time, I make a huge effort to make sure everything is tidy. On the other hand, when entertaining old friends, I do not let much bother me. I have been known to push papers and books to one end of the dining room table and set the opposite end for dinner. Bob and Susan felt like old friends, so I did not bother with dusting or cleaning windows and instead concentrated on my entree.
Bob brought a seared tuna appetizer served on a whole grain cracker. He made a schmear of cream cheese, chili and pepper and topped it with a thin slice of tuna. Delicious! His dessert was equally wonderful, a smooth key lime pie with a graham cracker crust topped with whipped cream and placed on a raspberry coulis. The tartness of the lime paired with the sweet red raspberry sauce was the perfect end to our evening. We talked for hours just like old friends. We shared cooking tips and recipes and talked about our children.
I asked Bob for his secret pie recipe, and he agreed to send it and even left me the rest of the pie so I could use it for this week's photograph. I could barely stay away from consuming it. You know the feeling when you have something delicious in the refrigerator and you take just one bite at a time, and suddenly you realize you have almost eaten it all, one fork full at a time.
I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and invite someone new to dinner. Call that person who you keep telling, "We really need to get together soon." Your life will be richer for it.
Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.