Going Deeper after 50.
I wasn’t looking for a best friend. I’m 56, I’ve been with my beautiful wife Elizabeth for 24 years now, and have a large network of friends and former colleagues. Still, a part of me felt closed off due to the losses I’ve had in my life.
When the pandemic hit the world, I was in my beginning improv class. I'd felt lost and adrift from a community since retiring from recreational soccer, being laid off from a company with a vibrant campus life, and joining a large company as a 100% remote worker. I'd come to a Modern Elder Academy retreat to help me get clarity on all of these changes. A big reveal for me was this: I needed to find my funny people. For me, humor is a form of spirituality. Would improv be a new place for me to find connection, friendship, and funny people?
Improv on Zoom became the format for months of classes. A woman joined a class I was taking, sitting quietly until her turn was called to be in a scene. And suddenly the screen was filled with her energy, presence, and focused talent. I was mesmerized, and sent a private Zoom message to her, saying "You’re funny!"
I invited her to a storytelling class, then a musical improv class, and on to advanced improv classes. But once we exchanged numbers, we changed the game, creating text conversations that go on for days. I had a friend constantly with me, in my phone, responsive and waiting.
A few months into our friendship, the vaccines were released and we both got immunized. Time to meet in person. I chose a beautiful cemetery that was located halfway between her house and mine. She arrived late, approached me and began talking as I memorized her now 3-D face. She was just as infectiously energetic and startlingly insightful as in text. And, wow, was she funny!
Bit by bit, we opened up our lives, homes, and families to each other. When she asked me if she could call me her best friend, I was so surprised because do adults talk like this? When was the last time I heard that question? Yet at the same time I felt my body receive that love in a huge rush of feeling. I turned to my wife and read the text to her. She smiled so lovingly, and said, "That’s wonderful!" I resoundingly replied with “Yes!”
Lisa and I are now "besties" who support each other's creative endeavors, family issues, and most importantly, personal growth and self-discovery. I can’t imagine my life without this new soulmate. We share an energetic chemistry that almost blocks everyone else out when we’re riffing on something or cracking each other up. We are two young best friends making mischief, being too loud, not paying attention in class, and having playdates. She has made such an impact on me during this extremely trying time that all of my other relationships have been enhanced and deepened, too.
The key to how we got here was Lisa bravely stepping forward and asking that question. And then we had to define what that meant for two moms, two wives, and a remote worker during a pandemic! I have had huge feelings arise in me around the definition of love and its many forms. Elizabeth, Lisa, and I even met to express what this has meant to all of us, and how to navigate this together.
Where in your life do you have a friend that you could go deeper with? I had to open up and trust in this new person in my life to receive the incredible gifts of best friendship. I never realized, at age 56, how much I had been holding myself back from going deep with anyone other than my family. But only by going deep have I received the rewards of a much happier time for me. Best friends can happen at any time in our lives, and we must keep finding these connections as Modern Elders to ensure a rich and loving life.
Myra Lavenue is a lesbian, wife, mother, writer, advocate for social justice, and MEA alum. From her home in Portland, Oregon, she works remotely for Kaiser Permanente in the National Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity department.