I collect people. Not in some creepy Jeffrey Dahmer way. And not in the urban dictionary sense of adding random followers to my social media accounts. But from phases of life to states I’ve called home, places I’ve visited and groups I’ve belonged to – I have assembled a group of people, my people. Some are part of my lifelong collection – permanent fixtures that are cemented in my life. Others are mere memories, like my New Kids On the Block poster collection (RIP).
Many of the people in my collection can make me laugh until my stomach hurts (man do I need them in my life!) Others transform me into a carefree 15-year old with their mere presence. A few know my deepest, darkest secrets (important to be nice to them) and others know only what I want them to see. There are those who wrapped their arms around me as I sobbed leaving my babies in the NICU or when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. And others who have made complete fools of themselves dancing with reckless abandon alongside me at 2 am. There are the people I call when I feel like I’m failing as a mom and the people I go to find out the latest must-read novel. And inevitably there are those in my collection who were nowhere to be found when I needed them most.
I recently said to a friend, “If you want to know who your friends are you should move.” Having gone to seven schools in 12 years I speak from experience – a lot of it. When locations change and everyday interactions cease, it becomes clear which people are your cement and which are your New Kids On The Block posters. And that is not to say the NKOTB friends aren’t wonderful and necessary – I still heart Joey McIntyre. They were part of the collection for a reason and filled a void in a specific moment in time that got me to where I am today. But not every friendship is meant to withstand the test of time or distance. It can be a hard life lesson to learn at any age. Watching your kids learn it for the first time can be downright gut-wrenching. But once you recognize the beauty of being able to curate your very own collection of people who are unique to you and your journey in life, it’s pretty extraordinary.
We all curate differently. And there is no distinctively right or wrong way. Some people’s collections are expansive. Others have a more intimate circle of trust. Some people collect friends who lift them up and other people seek out lost souls to guide. My collection spans many states, moves, phases and life experiences. There are days when I only want to be surrounded by the comfort of cement friends. And others when the NKOTB friends are the “Right Stuff” (see what I did there?). I love the moments when old members of my collection pop back in unexpectedly, years of words left unsaid yet a familiarity that will never go away. My people collection is my greatest treasure in life, and it’s something I had not even realized I started.
Laurie Larsh is a freelance writer & travel blogger. She has a gypsy soul, a passion for writing and is just trying to survive the twin tween years (bless her heart.) You can follow her adventures on her website, Facebook and Instagram.