Friends Are All Around Us

Last fall, a friend was coming to visit us in Maplewood—he’d never been to our house before and he’s always been a little bit hard to please. I eyed up the guest room and decided that the comforter on the bed he’d sleep in didn’t seem quite cozy enough for him, so I ordered a new one, a beautiful deep turquoise quilt; sometimes it’s nice to have an excuse to buy something special. The comforter looked so pretty, ready to welcome him.

Until I spilled bleach on it . . . by accident . . .

I was so bummed . . . until I decided to see if I could make it look intentional.

I put the bedspread on the back lawn and threw some more clorox on it—then I threw a little more. The coolest thing happened—it looked like the sea and the sky all at once.

That’s not the only cool thing. I’d planned to get new pillow cases too, so they’d match the new bedspread . . . But the pillows and quilt seemed like they were meant to be together . . .

I asked an artist friend how this could be, how a cotton turquoise quilt could look good with crimson velvet pillows. It didn’t make sense, but the evidence was irrefutable. He said, “Are they the same value?” I understood what he meant, and the answer was yes. These two colors had the same richness, the same saturation, the same depth. That’s all they needed to have in common to be beautiful together.

The other day I went to get this original artwork framed (it’s Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard). The framer pulled out a blue frame and a red frame because Grumpy Bird is blue and his shoes are red. But I chose a green of the same value as the bird.


I think friendships work like this too, but it’s not as easy to see “value” with people as it is with colors, cause it’s inside. It can be shared history or grief or joy; it can be aliveness, openness, or sorrow; it can be integrity or drive; it can be laughter or wit. It can be anything at all . . . it just has to be seen.

And that’s what I want for this holiday—to remember to look for the connections, the inside ones, the ones that are hard to see—big and small—I want to see them better.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Holly McGhee