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Thinning of the Herd: Who You Turned to When the World Turned Upside Down

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

I have this good friend who I constantly question why she enjoys my company as much as she does. She is someone that literally everyone loves. She’s the friend who brings you soup when you’re sick. She’s the friend who always has a fresh pot of coffee when you come over. She’s the friend who’s never embarrassed by you or by your crazy friends. She finds the common thread between you and her in every circumstance. She’s a mom who keeps track of screen time but always says ok watch one more show while I finish my conversation with Ms. Amanda. I always count myself lucky that she’s in my life. It seems like she has so many friends and I question why me? Recently, she answered the question. “You put effort into our friendship.”

We’ve all said the words “Why should I call him/her? She/he never calls me.” My friend told me that Covid has really thinned the herd for her. She had too many people in her life. There wasn’t enough soup to go around. My mystery friend uses half a dozen methods to keep in touch with people. From Marco Polo to Instagram, it was a lot to keep up with. But pandemic life is more complicated. There just isn’t time for her whole herd. But it wasn’t difficult to figure out how to thin it. Frankly, it thinned itself out. Those who kept in touch, who checked in, who tried to figure out a socially distanced coffee or play date, and those who didn’t. She said “I can be friendly with everyone, but I can only be friends with a select few.” I count myself lucky to have made the cut. She’s full of wisdom and coffee.

Like her, my herd got thinned, big time. Like my mystery friend I am friendly with everyone. But I am not good with the soup and I am not as easy to get along with. However, I throw big parties and invite everyone. I also know how to send Starbucks gift cards to people in under 2 mins. It’s truly a great skill that instantly makes anyone’s day. When you're the life of the party it's sometimes it’s hard to tell who is friendly with you and who are your true friends, but like my mystery friend, Covid revealed a lot to me.

Everyone is stressed and everyone chose some people to trust and others not to. I'm throwing no shade here. We each have individual risk levels and risk tolerances. But there are the friends who showed up on my porch with coffee six feet away, the friends who invited me to watch the neighbors band play distanced in his yard, and the friends who chose not to take any other risks so they could be with us, and my high risk daughter. There were also friends who chose to be really vulnerable in this difficult time and ask for emotional support and those who sought it elsewhere. There were those who gave it when asked and those who punted the ball.

If you didn't need me in your life during Covid, did you ever really need me? How will I feel when once close friends call me up and say hey the pandemic is over I'm having all our friends over? Will I be able to move past the fact that we barely spoke during a year plus long pandemic? No doubt there are others who feel the same about me. As I said our risk tolerances are all different and that's ok. The question is did you try to work through that or did you assume I'd just be there when the dust settles. Or possibly, did you just never really care? Did I mistake friendly for friends?

Some of those friendships ended with a big bang, some fizzled out slowly, and others just disappeared into the night. Then there were the fights. The fights fueled by anger, pain, sadness, and depression brought on by unprecedented times. Emotions are high most days during pandemic living. If you catch someone on a bad day, they could easily and unintentionally make it a very bad day for you too. Some friendships survived and some not. Then there were the friendships that blossomed into big beautiful red roses.

I had never really got the term ride or die. What does that even mean? According to Urban Dictionary it means: When you are willing to do anything for someone you love or someone you really appreciate in your life. The person who you stand by in any problem and vice versa. The term "ride till the end or die trying."

My ride or dies, were in my life before Covid. They were friends and family, but as the herd thinned out, they rose to the top. Lots of rose references here because they’re both red heads. It’s only sort of fair to count Bug. Bug is my cousin Sarah. My sister named her Aunt Bug when Scarlett was born because she already had an Aunt Sara. And ants are bugs (insert cry laughing emoji). We’re having shirts made for Animal Kingdom during the most epic trip to disney that we’re going to take when this over. They will say: “I didn’t choose the Bug life, the bug life chose me.” Those words rang so true all pandemic long.

Sarah and her husband Paul, chose to pod with us. They chose to do life with us during this craziness. They’re here every weekend. They attended every soccer game that Covid permitted them too. They did brunch, beer tastings. They helped me decorate for Christmas and filled the house with Christmas spirit even when it was hard for me to do so. You may have read about my Christmas crazy and that my favorite song has the line “Wherever you find love it feels like Christmas.” Bug and Paul have felt like Christmas all pandemic long.

Then there is April. I can’t tag all the posts filled with April because she is spewed across every page. When I undertook this, April jumped on board. She has extensive experience in television and marketing. I often refer to her as my brand or marketing manager, because once a week she takes an hour out of her time and we talk endlessly about where this is headed and how to get there. We love writing together, because we both like to express all of our opinions all at once to anyone who will listen. And we always have...but not always together.

Here’s a little back story. I moved to Maryland from Texas in high school. It was incredibly difficult. The culture shock was massive. April was friendly and nice to me. So naturally I stole her boyfriend. Of course, if you ask April, she was done with him anyway. Needless to say there was this tension between us for years. We ran in the same circles and it was impossible to avoid each other. One St. Patrick’s Day we got completely wasted. Irresponsibly drunk, but it served a purpose. It brought us to a place where we were ready to talk about our problems. We knew we liked each other. So much so that someday, this day, I would call her my ride or die.

The pandemic showed us in a way life never had before that we are on the same train to the same place...middle age. But middle age on our own terms. Life has always been on April and my own terms. It’s a thing other people don’t like about us. But it’s a thing April and I love about each other. We go balls to the wall with everything we do, all the time. April's PTA actually told her to stop raising money recently.

It’s an exhausting personality to have. Having a place where you can truly be yourself and say whatever you want with zero consequences other than an even greater respect for the person across from you is worth its weight in gold. My story with April is appropriately dramatic, because that's who we are. I will also say it's 6 feet across from me because we're not in the same pod and yet we find a way. It turns out there are so many ways to connect with people, if you want to.

For what it’s worth we both thoroughly enjoy teasing that old boyfriend at Friendsgiving, because we’re still both friends with him. April even married his best friend. He wasn't worth losing each other but these are lessons that we learn as we age like fine wine not when we were young and dumb like Irish Carbombs (which is what we we’re drinking that night).

I don’t know what will happen with all the various people in my life. I have this friend Arielle, who’s not on any social media. It makes it hard to keep in touch constantly. But dutifully, in regular life, we have lunch monthly. For almost 20 years. It’s fun to be ladies who lunch. We usually hit up the Cheesecake Factory and have a cocktail and too many calories. We’re the kind of friends who can not see each other for say a pandemic long period of time and we’ll pick up right where we left off. But that can’t be everyone. It isn't everyone. It's a choice Arielle has made to forgive me from occasionally forgetting to invite her to a party because I couldn't Facebook invite her. It's a choice to go to my darkest places with her over cheesecake.

I think we will all walk away from the pandemic wondering about the could of should of would of beens. Some of us will obsess more than others. Some will walk away from it and say my herd needed thinning. I’ll have a massive 4th of July party, when it’s safe, and I’ll invite everyone, because that’s who I am. But I'm going to look around the backyard and I am going to ask myself who's here for the moon bounce and sangria and who's here because they want to do life with me. But Sarah and April won't be drinking the sangria. With them I will to drink my best champagne with and remember that they answered the phone, they showed up, they put the mask on and they loved. I will also bring my best coffee to my mystery friend, and as soon as it’s safe and I will have cheesecake with Arielle.

I want to bring this back one last time to my mystery friend. It's not just that she's this super kind, loving, and a popular girl. It's that she's genuine. So genuine I know our friendship is real. I stayed in the heard because I gave back to what she put in, but honestly I'm not sure how I got in the door in the first place. My life is so messy. I'm so messy. I'm loud and rambunctious. I make BIG mistakes. The people who have stayed, they haven't just proved to be loyal they've proved to be tolerant and understanding. If only we could all be like her, this post might not need to exist.

What’s the takeaway here? We all have to give ourselves permission to make changes in our lives, based on life circumstances. Friendship is about doing life together. There's no doubt we experience seasons of life. Seasons when we can give and seasons when we need to take. But you always have the choice to pick up the phone and say, "Life's hard but I'm still here." Our priorities had to change in 2020, our needs changed, our ability to give changed.

When the landscape changes so do the flowers in the front and the trees in the back. I have said some sad goodbyes and pruned some of those flowers and trees back. I have also planted new seeds and grew roses I can't wait to physically embrace. I took that metaphor too far, right? So I’ll finish with this. Be kind, to yourself and to those who disappoint you. Because lord knows, we’re all disappointing someone, and we have to be ok with that.


Of course I haven’t named or mentioned all my good friends. At the end of the day most blog posts have been heavily edited (though not for grammar and spelling) and things get cut. Creative licenses have to be taken sometimes to get my point more quickly. But if you read through the lines you’ll see yourself in there and know I love you.

P.S.S. April read the postscript and said “but she loves me more bitches!” Insert, the face in your hand emoji.

P.S.S.S. Arielle was not super happy with taking this picture. She wanted an old non-pandemic photo but I said no and that was that. This is what we had to do in order to lunch.

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