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The Sisterhood of the Travelling Plate
Reflections on friendship
Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash
My friend arrived for our girl’s lunch and brought a large white platter of delicious homemade biscotti. It was a pretty porcelain plate with a gold line around the edge and a filigree pattern in the centre. After the meal, I washed the platter to give it back to her.
“No, just keep it,” she said. “It’s a travelling plate. Pass it on to someone else.”
And so I did. I gave it to an acquaintance the next time I was invited to her home for dinner, along with a tomato salad, because I’m not much of a baker. I thought she was the type of person who would appreciate and know what to do with a travelling plate.
The friend who brought the biscotti is a member of my closest and dearest friend group; we are four women who have been my friends for thirty years. It’s not a night out at a bar or fun dinner in a restaurant kind of friendship, although we have had a few of those. We are not friends because we share hobbies or interests like gardening or books. Our friendship was formed, as is often the case for women, because our children are the same age, went to nursery school together and played in the park with one another. At the time, we were older moms with established careers striving to do good at our jobs while juggling it all at home; that’s what brought us together.
We are friends, not because of what we can do for one another but because we value and want the best for each other. One friend is a great listener and will let me rant without being judgmental. She listens but steps in to catch me when I have fallen too far down the rabbit hole of thinking things are all my fault or can be fixed when what I should do is let it go.
Another is organized and thoughtful. We have often followed her lead because we know she has taken the time to do her homework or the extra bit of research. If she said this was the best day camp, that’s where we’d all sent our kids. When she said it’s time to show our teenagers that not everyone is as privileged as they are, then we brought them for two weeks to one of the barriadas outside of Lima, Peru, to build a classroom.
And the friend with the platter is easygoing and a glass-is-always-replenishing kind of person. When life gets a little intense, she reminds us it’s just not all that complicated. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be great is her motto. I admire how she puts everything together effortlessly. Fresh flowers always help. These are the friends I know I could call at three in the morning. Luckily, I haven’t had to.
Together, we have been through life’s major challenges: raising children, divorce, the death of loved ones, illness, and aging parents. Everybody has lived through times like these when you need your friends. We have also shared life’s joys: vacations, first communions, bar mitzvahs, birthdays, long walks, nights at the ballet, and many dinners in each other’s homes. But I most appreciate that we have raised our children together and launched them into adulthood with their own built-in set of friends. Having my these women by my side has taught me the power of friendship.
The travelling plate is a metaphor for our friendship. I love my girlfriends because they bring something good and expect nothing in return but that I will pass on something good when it’s my turn.
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