Recently, three friends and I joined thousands of buyers and sellers at the Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market, one of the world’s largest wholesale shows. We received guest passes, and although our name badges identified us as exhibitors, really we were gawkers, mostly-window shoppers, and grown women acting as giddy as kids in a candy shop.
We could hardly comprehend our good fortune: a day roaming show rooms, tasting samples, and hunting bargains on the cash and carry floor, plus the anticipation of a dinner event that evening. For most, the market is big business. For us, it was play: taking selfies with a man creating a balloon dress for a showroom display, obtaining an up-close-and-personal look at coming trends, getting a glimpse of what it feels like to work an outside-the-home job. The years we’ve spent caring for and teaching our children made this extravagant dose of me-time, of us-time, even sweeter.
We shared intimate details of our lives in a crowded food court over overpriced chicken salad sandwiches and bottled water. We roamed together when our interests were the same and apart when we wanted to explore different things. We were altogether comfortable.
Late in the afternoon, we found ourselves seated in barstools while our hair was styled. (It’s hard to resist when someone wielding a fancy tool offers to do your hair, especially when you have somewhere to go later that day.) When they added extensions that perfectly matched our current shades, our heads nearly exploded. We were awed by how good it felt: mirrored reflections that more closely matched what we felt on the inside.
We oohed and aahed over each other, hugged the man who made the magic happen, and walked away transformed. I knew how hard it would be to wear the extensions later, outside this circle of friends, faced with what the world might say (or whisper).
In some relationships, I’ve worn a mask, not sure if my friends would like the real me. But in true friendships, we view each other through a lens of love. Love offers acceptance. When we act in love, we handle each other’s hearts with care.
When love covers all, friendships can grow roots, both wide and deep.
Come visit me today at (in)courage for the rest of the story and see what happened when we got on the wrong bus!