Today my friend Kate and I went for a walk. Our plan was to walk to the local coffee shop to get their specialty — Cardamom Rose Lattes. When we started walking it was warm and sunny, surprisingly so for winter in the Pacific Northwest. As we walked, it started to sprinkle a little bit, and then a bit more, and then it started to pour. We were several blocks from the coffee shop and were getting completely drenched.
Neither of us had an umbrella and there was nowhere to take cover so we kept walking. When we finally reached the coffee shop we were drenched. Because of COVID the coffee shop is just to-go so we couldn’t go inside to get warm and dry, but there was an awning and we stood beneath it until it was our turn to go in and get our lattes.
A table outside under the awning was free and we decided I’d stay outside and hold it for us while Kate went in to get our drinks. While she was inside I dried off our chairs with my gloves and sat down, chilled but happy to be out of the rain. While Kate was inside the sun came out and it turned into a glorious day. We sat outside and enjoyed our coffees, catching up on each other’s lives. We talked about our parents and our kids and our jobs. We talked about how to manage travel during COVID. We talked about how good our lattes were. But we never did talk about the rain.
A few months ago Kate and I took our teenage daughters hiking in the snow. When we got to the trailhead we realized that Kate had forgotten the bag with her older daughter’s boots at home. I happened to have an extra pair of shoes that fit one of her daughters well enough and everyone made do. We had a great hike and there was no drama.
Kate is a drama-free friend. It’s not that there’s no drama in her life, or even in our friendship. It’s that she doesn’t add drama. When we were walking in the downpour today she didn’t shriek or run or freak out about getting sopping wet. There was nothing we could do about the rain so we just kept walking. There was no added drama.
The same was true for that day hiking. It could have been a big deal, even a deal-breaker where we aborted the hike, but it wasn’t. She had forgotten the boots, but she didn’t make a scene. She didn’t fall on her sword and say what an idiot she was. She just said sorry to her daughter who had to wear my ugly spare shoes and we got on with it.
I’m fifty-two years old and I have many friends from different periods of my life. I love and appreciate each of them for their unique personality traits. In this era of social media and added drama — everything is a story or an event — I am especially grateful for this drama-free friendship with Kate.
With Kate, it is refreshing that life just is what it is. The forgotten boots didn’t end up as a funny photo on Instagram because it really wasn’t that big of a deal. Posting a photo and making it an event would just have been adding drama, taking away from the real point of the day which was to hike in the snow with our kids.
And getting caught in the rain might have been the main topic of conversation during our coffee date or a funny friend photo on Facebook. We could have lamented our cold hands or wet pants but that would have taken away from the really important things we wanted to catch up on today.
Adding drama to an experience is a distraction from true presence. It is a way to deflect away from what is actually happening. It might feel exciting or invigorating or funny for a moment, but it’s not satisfying on a deeper level. In a friendship or relationship, adding drama is often a way to escape a more authentic or intimate connection. Life has natural drama without adding any extra. And really, who cares about a little rain?