The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. To celebrate this special date of 3/30, we took some time to reflect on our friendship and what makes us the inseparable Triangle.
HAPPY 3:30 DAY!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s March 30th!! We’re so excited to celebrate our first 3:30 Day, and on a Thursday no less!! We hope you enjoy this little video we made about how three preteen strangers became the three lifelong friends we are today.
Throughout childhood, my mother often reminded me that to have friends, you have to be a friend. To me, this motherly, Golden-rulish wisdom emphasized the idea that friendship, different from kinship or even marriage, requires a conscious and continual choice. To have friendship, we must actively decide to be a friend to someone, a choice that becomes more deliberate when it needs to span time and distances. There’s no legal or physical link that yokes us to our friends; no rings, certificates, or social contracts tying us to our chosen “best friends.” While our mother never simply ceases to be our mother, and marriage is broken only through often costly, stressful legal processes, a friendship is often described as simply “fading.” The end of friendship doesn’t entail active bridge-burning, emancipation or divorce; simple inaction and neglect seems enough to allow this particular human connection to dissolve. My dentist grandfather had a cross-stitch that read: “Ignore your teeth and they’ll go away.” According to my mother’s adage, it seems our friendships are similarly at risk.
When I sat down to write about friendship and my connection to Maggie and Jillian, I found myself pushing back against my mother’s words. Bear with me, because of course Mom was right on many levels. Meaningful relationships undoubtedly require work, commitment, love-is-a-verb activity—they ask something of us. But I actually feel something quite different has grown in my relationship with these two women: freedom from the requirement to do or be something.
As we’ve referenced on the blog, Maggie, Jillian, and I have called ourselves “The Triangle” since high school, joking that we always form a triangle, regardless if we’re the same room or across oceans. I don’t think we intended any deep philosophical meaning, but what I find beautiful about the symbol is that being in a triangle together is a passive yet stable position. We don’t have to do anything to be in a triangle. It requires only that we be where we are while it remains structurally flexible, yet constant, (provided we don’t fall into a line, gasp! which we assiduously avoid!)
I have wonderful family that I did not pick, but am blessed with. I am not married, (the only one of us who isn’t), so I’ve never picked someone to share my life with in that way. But when it comes to Maggie and Jillian, I feel like we picked one another, committed to one another, and somehow, without DNA, or vows, I know intrinsically that I will walk through life with these women. I can’t know the span of our lives, but if God intends me for old age, I know I will grow old with these women. Yet miraculously I feel like they’ve released me from a sense that I must do or be something in order to bring this about.
I’ve lived long enough to naturally see friendships fade because of distance and time, and to lose touch with people who once loomed large in my life. But with these two, I can’t explain how I know, but somehow I know that the structure is stable. The triangle abides. Even if I never floss again, we are in this together. Okay, we aren’t talking about teeth. What I mean is that sometimes God grants you friendships where in order to have a friend, you don’t need to be a friend.
You simply need to be.
Maggie and Jillian, I love you. Thank you for being those friends.
I don’t call my husband my best friend. Of course, he is my best friend in the sense that we talk every day and share everything. But a husband is something different, and a best friend is something different, too.
I think a lot of people look for a spouse who can balance them out. That’s what I did. I’m neurotic, sensitive, intuitive and withdrawn. My husband is funny, energetic, popular, and athletic. He helps me look outward, helps me see the brighter sides of life. I help him look inward and help him see the darker sides when necessary.
In The Orphan Master’s Son, there’s mention of two women rowing across the ocean together. One rows all day, the other rows all night. That’s like my marriage – he rows me through the day, I row him through the night. We go everywhere together, we do everything together, we rely on one another completely. But when we look around, we see different things. We live the same life, but at times we’d hardly know it – we have to tell it to each other like a story.
It takes so much patience. It takes a relentless, uncomfortable amount of self-expression, and a painfully constant letting go of one’s personal absolutes. It’s challenging but it’s beautiful and it’s taken us so far, and I think it can take us to the ends of the earth. But there’s an inherent loneliness in this arrangement that the other rower can never soothe.
When you’re rowing in the dark and the loneliness overtakes you, that’s when you get on your radio and call out. And the person who answers is another night rower.
The way I see it, Maggie, Mary Margaret and I are all rowers in the dark. No matter where we are in the world, we see the same things – the same black ocean, the same night sky, the same stars and moon. When I call out to them, they’re there, in the night, in my realm. I don’t have to cross over to the daytime to talk to them. And I never have to try to explain to them what it feels like, rowing blindly, rowing on faith, feeling alone. They already know.
If I didn’t have that strength I draw from them, from their understanding, their community of shared feeling, I don’t think I’d ever have the strength to cross realms into daylight – to try to connect with the people who live and see and feel differently than I do, even to reach my own husband. The daytime is a bizarre and irrational place for a night rower. I need to know my other night rowers are behind me.
And they are, always. We’re family – not in the usual way of families, not just by loyalty, not even just by love. We’re family because despite the fact that our physical lives have taken us to such different places, somewhere inside of us we’re all on the same journey. It’s who we are. For all my life I’ll be calling out in the dark, and they will be out there to hear and answer. We’re night rowers, and we’ll make it the whole way, just like this.