I would have missed it if I had blinked. But I didn’t, and in that flash of a moment, a pair of roller skates taught me something about the nature of friendship.
After college, I lived for a year in Romania (it was such a transformational year in my life; you’ll probably see me reference it over and over), in a spacious flat that looked decrepit from the outside but provided a cozy retreat for my stint in this country. A few days before I left Europe to return home, I walked to the grocery store near my apartment building. On the way back, with a loaf of crusty fresh bread and cheese and half a dozen eggs bought at the outdoor market, I noticed how the weather had already begun to turn cool again. Back home in my native Mississippi, I knew the trees would still look lush and green, and my family might even have the air conditioner still running.
Amid my musing, I noticed some children playing at the edge of the dusty street, students recently released for the day from the elementary school across the road. A pair of girls caught my eye, their laughter and swinging braids attracting my attention. Each with an arm around the other’s shoulder, these girls roller skated past me—each girl wearing one skate, pushing off the ground with her other foot to propel the pair forward.
Practically speaking, these girls could have taken turns; one could have skated down the street and back, and then she could have handed off the skates to her friend for that girl’s turn. But they chose not to share the skates this way. These girls, in this moment, skated together, side by side, sharing the experience and the joy—and the hassle—of togetherness.
Those skates, and those girls, showed me a vital truth that day: that friendship is worth the effort. When I spend hours in the kitchen working on dinner for my own family as well as a meal for a family with a newborn baby, I remember that blessing my friend is worth the time. When I tidy up a cluttered guest room during an already busy day in order to prepare it for a friend in need, I remember that serving her is worth the work. When I listen long to a friend on a phone call instead of finishing the pie for that night’s dessert with company, I remember that being available to her is worth the delay.
Caring and compassion and friendship aren’t always convenient; in fact, they can be laborious, time-consuming, and costly. But friendship, as a labor of love, is a joyful load to carry. And a pleasant path on which to skate.