By: Revanche

Sushi pals, and so much more

July 3, 2009

The other night, my phone rang. It was one of my best friends, let’s call him Robin, asking if I was home. It was 9 pm, “sorry, I forgot to call you back in ‘two hours’….!”

I had to laugh. We’d last talked at 11 am, and here he was calling me back the rest of the day later. I shook my head and told him to swing by. We ended up sitting outside chatting for hours. [I have multiple mosquito bites to remember it by.]

The subject of careers and jobs was high on the list of topics: goals, strategies, and reflections on our decisions. Another old friend, practically family, had made an off-hand comment about me that I shared with Robin that night: “You’re going to turn into one of those SATC women. All career, no family.”

Now, Robin’s a thoughtful fellow. He looked at me and said, “you know? From the outside, people think that’s where you’re headed, and …. well, I always just thought you were like me.”

He’s done so well since we graduated from college, working for a school district and then striking out from that “safe” position to a private company three years after that. The calculated risk to grow his job description for a good bit more money, and a huge commute, panned out in a big way. Not only did he get out of a soon-to-melt-down sector, he asked for a major raise after six months, and despite initial balking, received it six months after that. He’s taken on more responsibility, studying for certifications, and worked his butt off in pursuit of another significant raise soon.

“We care about our jobs and careers, and we’re going to keep pushing ourselves, pushing for the next level, and the higher salary. But we’re doing it because we’re aiming for that point when we have stability and freedom, and we’re ready to settle back and grow our families. People see me at work, and they keep asking, ‘why are you working so hard, why don’t you take a break?’ They just don’t see the bigger picture. We’re reaching for the long-term, and we’re going to take that break. But it’ll be a heck of a different break than they’re thinking of!”

His analysis and observations were pretty spot-on. It’s not about the money so much as the expertise, the challenges we take on, and the resumes we build that will pave the way for us to make the choices we want in life. We’re neither of us particularly genius or highly entrepreneurial. But in our own quiet ways, we’re going to aim high, reach high and create some kind of stable lives for our families. And we’ll know when enough is enough. Like Frugal Dad, we don’t need a corner office or the outward trappings of success for the sake of having them. We have longer-reaching goals.

It never fails to amaze me how much we have in common so many years and disparate experiences later.

On Living Almost Large’s post about the recession ruining friendships, Meg asked:

We DO need better friends. But how do you find them? We’ve been burned so many times! And we’re tired of expending so much energy and even money on these vampires.

I don’t have any single answer to that, but as we get older, I understand how important it is to find and keep friends with the same values. Superficially, Robin and I are rather unlikely friends. He’s devoutly religious, I’m completely not. He’s a big earner and spender, I’m neither. He’s unreservedly charming, physically adorable, a frat boy, and athletic beyond words. I’m pretty plain Jane with some alarming health limitations. But none of that really matters when it comes down to cases. What does matter is who you can sit on the front step with in the middle of the night, sharing any and everything.

5 Responses to “Sushi pals, and so much more”

  1. Agreed. Friends are v. hard to find these days.

    As for career and money, I just want to be average, and to have more time and freedom, than to be chained by a high powered, demanding sort of job.. I just want to be normal, happy and comfortable, but not rich.

  2. Crystal says:

    I love this post and completely agree. Like Michelle Pfeiffer said in “Story of Us”: “Good friends are hard to find.” I think this is especially true the older you get. Like FB, I want enough money to be comfortable, but the freedom to spend my time as I see fit.

    Hope you’re having fun in NY!

  3. It sounds like a lovely evening with a really great friend. Very good post, thanks for sharing!

  4. Sense says:

    Your posts are so lovely lately; I blame the recently-broken chains of employment that were obviously dragging you down. It sounds like you are much happier than you were only a little while ago!

    It is so very true about friends. Aside from family, they are the most important part of life. However, it gets harder and harder to make/maintain them as you get older and people start pairing off and getting insanely busy with children.

    As for ‘Robin’…is he single? πŸ™‚ He’s clearly a catch.

  5. Interestingly, the older you get, the harder it is to make create new friendships–solid, long-lasting ones, that is. Young people today seem to have developed a knack for nurturing friendships over time and space…in the Dark Ages, we tended to lose touch with people when we no longer went to school together or worked together or carpooled the kids together.

    πŸ™‚ Hang onto those friends. Especially Robin, eh?

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