I recently finished reading Shauna Niequist’s “Bittersweet” and it’s a book chock full of essays that really resonated with me. I’ve written once before about Shauna’s books and I found this second collection of hers just as meaningful to me as her first. There were two essays in particular that stuck out to me while reading them and I’m going to try and find time to get to the other one, but for now, this one’s a nod to Shauna’s essay titled “The Home Team.”
She writes: “Lately, I’ve been working hard on my commitment to the home team. Everybody has a home team: it’s the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people who, near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyway. The home team people are the ones you can text with five minutes’ notice, saying, ‘I’m on my way and I’m bringing tacos.’
There are two reasons you need to know who your home team is. First, you need to know who they are because they need you. These are the people you visit in the hospital no matter what. These are the people whose weddings you attend, no matter how far the destination is or what terrible thing they’ve chosen for you to wear. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water without asking when they are at your house. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people.
The second reason you need to know who your home team is, is because then you know who your home team is not. Everyone else is everyone else…It’s so easy to give everything we have to the first people who ask, or the people who ask the most often, or the people who are always in crisis. But stop yourself: are they a part of your home team?”
Last week, one of my college besties, Andy, sent a note to myself and another of my college besties, Jon, reminding us we’d agreed to go out to dinner on Wednesday night. “I’m sending this email on the outside chance that we might still dine together this evening, but realistically I’m guessing we’ll probably reschedule” were the words Andy had typed. I sat there and thought about it. Cancelling, I mean. I was up to my eyeballs in editing and felt as though there was no way I could make the time to do this. (Even though I was the one to set it up two months ago!)
But then, I thought back to those words of Shauna’s—words I had read only the week before—and thought “Forget this. These boys? THEY ARE ON MY HOME TEAM.” So we made it happen: Sat down together outside on a beautiful night and had sips of one another’s martinis and gorged ourselves on yummy food. And we talked for nearly two hours about new jobs and existing jobs and our families and vacations and all sorts of pop culture tidbits in between (Andy had just met Anderson Cooper at the Indy 500 Parade so we had to talk about that eye candy of course ;) ).
You see, Jon and Andy were two of the first people I met when I came to Ball State. We sat down together at a table as 18-year-old strangers sharing the same major (journalism). And a few years later, we graduated as close friends. We have lived and learned and talked about SO much of our 20s together that, as we all three knock on 30′s door, I must say, I am proud of my friendship with these boys. It’s not easy to stay in touch with friends as the years pass. Life … it just has a knack for getting in the way, doesn’t it? But when I think of the decade’s worth of memories I share with these fellas—lots of heart-to-hearts and book club meetings and turns on the dance floor at friends’ weddings—I get all sentimental thinking how, even though months may pass in between, we still make an effort to make our friendship stick like this.
I got all sappy like this on them at dinner. Told them about this particular essay. Felt like a fool when I professed they were on my “home team” and all. But—and maybe it’s because I’ve been on a kick lately of wanting to let people I care about know just how much I care about them—it felt good to say the words.
Then, with all that out of the way, I took this photograph to remember the moment. I showed them on the viewfinder and Jon said, “Hey, you made us look good.” And I told him, “That’s why you bring your professional camera to take a snapshot with your home team.”
Whoever your home team is, go out and celebrate ‘em. They deserve it. And you do too. Work will wait. It always does. But memories like this won’t, will they?
(Jon, Gail and Andy—Summer 2011)