Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


In the beginning, there was Naomi and Ruth, Lucy and Ethel, Laverne and Shirley, Thelma and Louise, and the friends from, well… Friends. At Okay, Listen Here, you’ll find Jean, Stephanie, Cheryl, and me. Realizing how lucky I am to be part of such a fine group of southern ladies, I began to wonder who invented the mysterious, superfluous, and iconic relationship people need on a basic level… friendship.

A good southern woman is taught to be a friend from childhood. (Cue Steel Magnolia’s) Southern women are bred to offer companionship, sustenance, and solace to those they love and in times of need. Born in a Texan family with northern roots on my mother’s side, I was taught early on what it meant to give your word and follow through. Add my Army Brat roots on top of this and you’ve got quite a combination of loyalty, grit, duty, and service.

Friendship, as defined by The American Heritage Dictionary, ‘is a condition or relation of being friends. Friendly feeling toward another, friendliness.’
A friend, also defined by The American Heritage Dictionary, ‘is a person whom one knows, likes and trusts. Any associate or acquaintance. A favored companion... One with whom one is allied in a struggle of cause; a comrade. One who supports; sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement.’

Moving every three years when I was growing up taught me a lot about making friends, keeping them across a span of many separations, leaving friends and starting the process all over again. Though it may not seem like it, the world is a very small place. I often run into people I knew when I was a young Army brat or a military wife. It never ceases to amaze me when I run into someone I’ve known from another part of the world, especially someone who remembers lil’ ol’ me.

As children we learn early on how to set the dividing line between acquaintances and friends. Children instinctively grasp when someone can be trusted. A child has an uncanny sense about these things. Still, there are times when children and adults overlook these hints and learn the hardest lesson of all… betrayal. Loyalty and betrayal are closely linked. Without opening oneself, friendship cannot be achieved. Without trusting another soul, intimacy cannot be met.

What a joy it is then, when friends are found who can be trusted, when friends appear in your time of need. Who, but a friend, would know without asking when you aren’t feeling well or have had a bad day? Who, but a friend, cringes at your wounds, cries with outrage when you’re slighted, or applauds your grandest achievements?

I have always envied women who have been friends since childhood. (Cue Designing Women) My particular upbringing has given me friends for life, but friends I rarely get the chance to meet or see. After putting down roots in the south and joining my local writing chapter, Heart of Dixie, times have changed. I’ve been given the opportunity to make the kinds of friendships I’ve always admired in the movie, Steel Magnolia’s. And at Okay, Listen Here, I’ve found the Southern that makes life worth Living in the friendships I’ve made with Jean, Stephanie and Cheryl.

I leave you with a snippet of this poem by Lucy Larcom, called Plant A Tree.

He who plants a tree
Plants a hope.
Rootlets up through fibres blindly grope;
Leaves unfold into horizons free.
So man’s life must climb
From the clods of time
Unto heavens sublime.
Canst thou prophesy, thou little tree,
What the glory of thy boughs shall be?

Extend a hand to someone in friendship. Maintaining friendship is a mysterious journey, a journey that begins with a simple ‘hello’. We are the fibres binding rootlets which uphold the tree of life. Each of us must help the other climb in order to bring glory to each bough.

If your friendship resembled a tree, what kind of tree would that be? And are you the root or the bough?



  1. Introspective blog Kathy. Amazingly, it came at a time when I was questioning my own value to others - who really wants to be around me? Ok, that's sappy... not usually my no-nonsense style. I have usually been the root - gnarly and pushing through the dirt to get what I want and what I want for other people (interfering maybe but I want everyone to be successful and happy - hard to do). Just my nature.

    I have never had really close friends except for my sister who shares a common bond with me (and a sick sense of humor). Like you, I found it at HOD. Oh, I know there are superficial friendships but to find people who understand the creative part of you is actually amazing. You, Jean and Stephanie have accepted the old battle axe with the smart mouth and, if you can believe it, the cream puff interior which I never show. To finally have found such people is a treasure - one I really do appreciative and hold close.

  2. Between a highly dysfunctional family and the constant moves - I often went to two or three schools per grade - friends were hard to come by. Now I cherish the ones that I have and work on cultivating others. I am usually the root of the tree in the relationships that I have.

    Great post, and a lot to think about here.

  3. What a nice post, Kathy!! I suppose I've been both the root and the bough in my friendships. Sort of a give and take. But isn't that the way it's supposed to be?

  4. I think I'm a root and a bough too.

    But I've learned one of the worst things to happen is for a best friend to become a worst enemy. That really cuts to the heart and I'm not sure it's something I'll ever be able to forgive.

    Great post.

  5. I'm a root and a bough. My parents immigrated to Canada when I was 4, leaving behind a wealth of friends and family. I have a very wonderful friend there that I have maintained a relationship with for over 35 years! She and I are a lot alike, she's the Dutch version of me. Yup, another bubbly, fierce blond. I also have another dear friend I've known equally as long who lives in Canada. We're different, but bonded by our history and our affection for each other. I have a handful of dear friends in the states that I am super close to, but I have a lot of friends who are more casual. I recently made a some new friends with whom I share a great deal and they are in my trusted circle of friends. I consider my closest friends more as sisters of the heart.

  6. One of the greatest things I've gotten out of this writing journey I started 7 years ago is friends. I have moved around a lot since graduating high school and seemed to have trouble making close friends. I never expected to become rich in friends through writing, an extremely solitary undertaking, but that is what has happened. And I LOVE it! So very thankful for all my online friends, and now that I'm in HOD, I have friends I can actually look in the eye and talk to! And they even hug me! And understand my Southernness! It's so wonderful. *Happy Sigh* :-)

  7. I think I've been both root and bough over the years. Being a creative recluse, I cherish the friends I have, for they understand the nature of the beast.

    Wonderful post, Kathy. Very thought provoking.

  8. Kathy, as a fellow military brat, I know exactly of what you speak. I, to this day, have a hard time making close friendships because I always expect them to be uprooted at some point. I fear that I'll have to move away, even though that really isn't much of a problem these days.

    And I completely love all the wonderful women who have taken me in and let me be part of their group. I don't know what I'd do without HOD.

  9. Great post, Kathy. I got a little misty and we all know how mean I am.

    Can you imagine being friendless? One of the prayers of the people includes "We pray for ..., and for all who are sick, friendless and needy"
    Ms. Classy and I were talking about that yesterday at lunch. What does it take to be totally without friends?

    I hope I am never there.

  10. Cheryl, you are a sweet, thoughtful, wonderful, caring soul who understands that being creative is a calling. Psst. I knew there was a cream puff in you the moment I met you. :D

    Debbie, thanks for posting! The roots of the tree are the foundation. Your friendship must be golden. ;)

    Giving and taking is the way of friendships, Debra. You're so right about that. Our roots and branches must be strong enough to bend when the time calls for it. :D

    PM, I hate that you've had such a negative friendship experience. But I know that the friendships you've made in HOD are the kind that are forever. Blessings. :)

    Christine, I don't have any sisters but I agree. Friends are like sisters and I count myself lucky to be surrounded by so many. ;) You're so fortunate that you've been able to hang on to the friendships in your life.

    Melanie, I so agree with you. HOD and all the writing friends I've made on this journey have helped me understand that I'm not insane to want to write stories about other people, especially when I hear voices. LOL! (P.S. I'm so glad you joined HOD and I'm so excited for the success you are experiencing!)

    Crystal, you've got a very docile beast in your heart. ;) But you have a way with words, my friend. I'm so grateful to the friendship you've given me. :D

    Lynn, my partner in crime! You and I understand each other so much. It is very hard to let go when you've learned to hold back as a matter of self-preservation. Being in the south has opened my spirit more than I could have ever hoped. And, being a small off-shoot of the tap root we call Heart of Dixie has been an amazing learning/growing/soaring experience. :)

    Jean! Shucks! I'm blushing. I'm glad my post touched your heart.

    I really can't imagine life without friends. And I do pray for those who stand alone each and every day without hope of companionship or affection of any kind. I've led a separate life while learning to meet people and make new friends and have had my fill of loneliness. A truly stable tree cannot grow without the foundation off-shooting roots can give it. We all need each other to exist and on deeper levels than many can even begin to understand.

  11. Great post and wonderful comments. You all make me proud to be a part of HOD. How nice it is to find people who "get" me and yet like me anyway!

  12. Oh yeah, we 'get' you, Stephanie! With your easy smile and buoyant spirit, what's not to get? :D

  13. Lovely Post Kathy,
    Friends are a true gift of the soul. They even put up with me when I'm late.