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How a Sweater Taught Me About Friendship

Several years ago I acquired what is probably my favorite winter clothing item, and at the time my best friend purchased the same one. (Yeah, we were those girls who sometimes purchased matching outfits to wear together.)

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Pictured in the sweater (which I probably wear way too much now), and pajama pants. Pardon the blurry cell phone picture.

For me, the sweater was a necessary purchase as I was home for the weekend from my internship in Florida and had forgotten to bring back any warm clothes– despite the fact that I knew I was going back to the Midwest in September.

I won’t bore you with the details of our girls day shopping trip, but picture any chick flick movie montage where there are scenes at a mall and that pretty much sums up how that day went for us. By some stroke of fate, we stumbled on the same sweater in different parts of the store and rather than only one of us be able to buy it, we decided it didn’t matter that much if we happened to own the same sweater.

When I went back to Florida to complete my internship, I brought the sweater with me and whenever I put it on, or even just pulled it out of the closet, I was filled with happy memories of the best friend back home who I missed.

Those months of separation were pretty rough for me as it was the first time we’d really been so far away from each other for an extended amount of time since establishing our friendship and I’d often considered her to be like my other sister instead of merely a friend. It was also before the explosion of cell phone use that we have today, so text messages were almost non-existent for either of us, and Facebook had just been created and wasn’t yet a good way to keep in contact.

Eventually it was time to return home, and if my memory is correct, we both managed to be wearing the same sweater without any planning when Heather picked me up from the airport. (If that’s not what actually happened, I’m still going to selectively remember it being that way.)

As time has passed and life has caused us to grow in different directions, just like my sweater, I started to neglect the care of my friendship.

For a couple of winters, I don’t think it ever came out to be worn because I was too ashamed of how I’d taken care of the sweater, and coincidentally our friendship was likewise neglected and we rarely spoke during that same time period.

I’ve mentioned my friendship with Heather a couple of times on the blog before, and how we’ve taken different paths in life, but even when we haven’t talked in ages, I know she’s just a text message away from me. Busy schedules mean that we still don’t hang out often, and our friendship will never go back to how it was when we were in high school, but I know she’s still there for me whenever I need her.

I often take for granted that friendships, just like my raggedy old sweater, require care and upkeep.

A couple of weeks ago I pulled that old sweater out of my closet and sat down to try restoring it to a wearable condition again. It wasn’t easy, but eventually I was able to make it look almost new and while it’ll never be perfect, I’ll proudly wear my sweater and count the snags or worn spots as lessons learned to take care of things that I value.

It’s silly how a simple sweater and the restoration process made me think about friendships and the work needed to keep a friendship stable, but well sometimes the most random events in life can teach you something.

Now when I decide to wear that sweater, I use it as a reminder to make sure I’m doing my part to maintain my friendships.

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