By definition ‘soul food’ is a noun, defined by Merriam-Webster as: “food (as chitterlings, ham hocks and collard greens) traditionally eaten by southern black Americans.” With origins dating back to the mid-sixties, it is safe to say that its definition may have morphed a bit in the way of mainstream thinking.
Some liken the term ‘soul food’ to food which soothes the soul, not completely dissimilar from the ever popular ‘comfort food.’ In truth, depending on demographics the two could be viewed as synonymous. Those with roots stemming from the South may indeed find comfort in foods such as collard greens, ham hocks, corn bread and fried okra.
Recently, following a two-hour coffee date with a girlfriend I realized I have ‘soul friends.’ Not dissimilar to the treats and treasures of comfort food, soul friends are unique and not everyone has the perfect recipe.
Typically speaking, I’m an extrovert/social butterfly type. My guy was the first to bring to my attention the number of ‘friends’ I have in my arsenal, often stating, ‘I can’t keep them all straight.’
While I do subscribe to the quality over quantity rule, I do also feel extremely fortunate to have met so many wonderful and unique people to call ‘friend.’ The soul friends though, now they are of a different breed from the masses.
The soul friends are the ones who come without rules or expectations, accept you as you are and demand little if anything from you on a regular basis. They are also the friends who can shoot you a text in the middle of a Saturday after weeks of not connecting simply stating, “We need to belly laugh soon” or “I can’t do life, let’s do coffee.”
Both drastically different messages to the naked eye, both meaning essentially the same, I need to authentically connect with a person who gets me (other than my spouse).
Speaking as a mommy, soul friends (at times) are my lifeline. They know my imperfections, as well as my strengths and yes, they offer up each on a regular basis with no apologies. They are the people I can count on for both brutal honesty as well as a supportive ear, which may extend to a shoulder to cry on.
The crazy and often beautiful thing about these friendships is you truly never know when you’re going to meet. When you’ll cross the path of that person whom perhaps after moments you know, yep! you’re my peeps. Then there is the friend you may have met through a shared interest or employment whom in time becomes a true confidant, a treasured friend.
As I grow older, I find myself being more grateful not just for these friends but their openness in reciprocating the very feelings I share for them. So often, as women, we experience the ‘one up mommy,’ the one trying to be everything to everyone or out shine the other. While I won’t pass judgement on how this group chooses to live their days, I’m equally grateful to have found my niche in the way of friendship.
Because every now and again, I recognize I’m still very much the same as when I was a girl. I treasure my one on one time with my friends. My soul needs the honesty, the laughter and yes even to deal with the tough stuff.
Ultimately, the soul friend is very much like soul (and or comfort) food, not served daily, but served just enough to remind me how fortunate I am to live such an abundant life.
Who could ask for more than that?
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.