I first heard about the lovelist project from Kristin at HalfwaytoNormal.com and was quite bemused. The concept is a simple one, intuitive and obvious enough to be easy to grasp and implement and yet I was somewhat off-put. My interpretation: the idea is that you list the things you love - publicly - and then you make changes and commitments to include those loves in your life - and report back on that.
Can I really admit in public that I like to sleep really, decadently late on weekends? Will my boss appreciate seeing my plans to include more epicurian lapses into morning slumber? Will me husband react to my Saturday morning coma with his usual stoicism if he knows that I'm planning to shirk Saturday breakfast duty? I'm not sure yet that I can be so public as that. Yet, there is one somewhat private activity I can share - something I find I really love, and really want to have more time for, so I'm committing to that now.
I'm fortunate to be endowed with a wonderfully gracious and intelligent group of friends who, despite my failings, count me as a friend amongst them. They're a group with whom I laugh, I share my aspirations, I plot. We gripe together, we offer sympathy for life's petty wrongs, we have flashes of insight that make troubles easily resolve. And sometimes, we grieve.
I met them online back in the dark ages of the world wide web, back when meeting someone in person who you'd only ever emailed or gotten to know online was considered risqué, and very unlikely as we were located in every corner of the country, in the lower 48 and Canada and occasionally in Hawaii or Belgrade too, depending on deployments. Nowadays, with all the pairings through match.com and eharmony.com, you'd think that the internet was actually a better place to meet people than is one's own local community. But back then, it wasn't. We took the risk anyway and started meeting up. We even included the one we thought was the token guy pretending to be a girl, and were surprised to find she wasn't pretending.
It has been 10 years since we first met, give or take a few for some of us. I recently travelled to the other side of the continent for business and was fortunate enough to end up in a place where there were 3 others from my group of friends; I made time in my schedule to see them. I loved seeing them, and I love the way it seems like we haven't been apart long at all when we're together. Leaving my family for business travel is a grind, and business travel is never glamorous; but I went because it is part of the job, and part of my career that I like. But seeing my friends - making time for them - I did that for me.
And I've seen this before with others in the group - we extend ourselves, make time when there isn't any, and reach out and stay out to be there for each other. We head out to airports to help visiting friends navigate the foreign lands that are our homes, we send care packages, we head out in the rain in Boston and to piercing parlors in NYC, through the subways of Chicago, the mountains of Colorado, under the Arch in St. Louis, at the Lincoln Memorial in DC or at a church in New Jersey. Through bone scans and driver's permits and weight loss and remarriage and childbirth and tattoos and military service, we're going through it together - daily online, and semi-annually in person.
Each year, we meet up in person - actually make a point to do that, once we realized that without such an effort we might only meet at funerals. And I've been unable to go the past two years, through a variety of factors, but I would have loved to be there. This year - thanks to the lovelist project - I'm doubly committed to being there. Because it is the people I love, the people who love me. Being with them renews me in some way to face all those who aren't such dear friends, and still leaves open the possibility that anyone could be - even someone you only first knew as a funny-sounding user name on the internet.