Last week our office was closed for Good Friday.
This new agency I’m at usually shuts down on Fridays and/or Mondays before and after holiday weekends, so a short week and a long weekend felt like such a treat.
Earlier in the week I made bike + coffee plans with a friend in Boulder for Friday morning. This friend and I both landed in Boulder around the same time in 2017, and our friendship was built on a shared love of bikes and riding them around the most beautiful places we could find in the Mountain Standard time zone. But despite this bond, we couldn’t be more different.
We were raised differently and in separate parts of the country. We have clashing beliefs and personalities. We went to different schools, and he’s one thousand times smarter than me. He lived in Manhattan for several years, so he’s harder than me, too. I like to let my emotions lead me through life, and him? Well, sometimes I wonder if he’s hugged anyone in the last 29 years. Because of all of this and a little more of that— and with the addition of stressful jobs and relationships—we’ve been through some stuff over the past year.
For some time, our friendship felt strained and stressful. I couldn’t figure out the best way to communicate with him or when; I didn’t know how to be his friend, so I cut things off. We stopped riding together, and we stopped texting. I rarely answered his messages and wouldn’t entertain his humor that I interpreted as insult. My sensitivity sometimes got in the way.
We hadn’t talked in a while before Friday. We ran into each other at Rapha on the weekends, but few words were exchanged beyond soooo…how’s life? I started to miss his friendship, our unending cycling conversations, and, let’s be honest, our gossip sessions.
So, I reached out.
We met at 7 a.m. and took off for the dirt roads. As we weaved up and around North Boulder and out East, I felt so happy to reconnect with him, and I realized sometimes it’s important to be the first to forgive. To bend a little.
The weather was close to perfect; 50s and sunshine, and we had the beautifully packed and desolate dirt roads to ourselves.
As the sun drenched my skin, I thought about how sometimes, we need to listen for and understand what our friends are feeling, not necessarily what they’re saying. Because what they’re feeling will tell you why they’re saying what they’re saying. You know? Every once in a while, I’d let him fill the silence and vent a little. Because another thing I realized as we climbed a particularly painful incline out of town is that just being present is friendship in itself. I’m my best listening self on a bike or hike. I need wide open spaces to process thoughts and feelings, whether they belong to me or not.
About 30 miles in, we headed back toward town for coffee, which is when I realized it’s important to always end things on a high note: coffee and pastries. I don’t think I did that enough earlier in our friendship. I’d get frustrated or turned off and stop communicating, when I should have scheduled time to finish our conversation later.
I know all this now after working through and standing up for this difficult, beautiful, dynamic, special friendship.
All it takes is a Friday morning bike ride for coffee.