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Accidental Friendship, The Very Best Kind

Posted April 16th, 2010 in Friendship, Katie, Reflections by Glenn Plaskin
Peg Wallis

Peg Wallis

Last night, with balmy spring temperatures soaring to nearly 80 degrees, I had to take advantage of the sunset on the Hudson, pictured below, by having dinner outdoors.

And I happily took in the water views (and grilled salmon) with my close friend and confidante, Peg Wallis, the brilliant life coach who travels around the country giving workshops to large corporate audiences, skillfully teaching how we can become better team players, think “bigger” and out of the box, and push beyond perceived limitations to the boundless possibilities within.

As for me, I’m just lucky to have Peg as a friend. And like many of the best things in life, my friendship with her was sheerly accidental. For years, I’d only heard about the exuberant Peg, who is my sister Debby’s closest friend, both of whom lived in Albany. (They’re pictured below at a New Year’s Eve dinner).

Peg and Deb

Peg and Deb

But who would have guessed that Peg would eventually take on more than one sibling in the family?

About five years ago, tired of Albany and ready for a change, Peg moved to New York and only wound up in my building because I recommended it, telling her, as I tell everyone, that living in Battery Park City is the most scenic place in New York–and the quietest.

Peg took my advice and moved right in. Just five floors above me, she became my new buddy and I became her New York guide, introducing her to the ins and outs of neighborhood–and to all my friends. She quickly turned out to be one of my closest friends, which only proves that proximity is the messenger of fate, a concept I wrote about a few blogs ago.

How many of your closest friends were also fortuitous accidents, products of not just chemistry and rapport–but geographic proximity as well?

As you’ll read in my upcoming book, Katie Up and Down the Hall, accidental friendships are the driving force behind the entire book. I just accidentally met the octogenarian heroine of the book, Pearl, through a friend in the building. That first knock on the door led to a sixteen year relationship that utterly changed my life. I later just accidentally ran into a little boy named Ryan (who had no Mom), and his Dad, John, at a Community Center in New York. And we all just accidentally wound up fatefully living on the same floor of our Manhattan high-rise. Together with Pearl and her husband, Arthur, something miraculous happened. Living in such close proximity, with my dog leading the way, we all transformed from unrelated strangers to neighbors to close friends, to family.

And sure enough, “Pegsy,” as I sometime call her, has accidentally become a key part of my current day family. She is a uniquely kind person, a superb listener (as every therapist and coach should be), who typically puts the focus on giving rather than getting, offering her perspective and wisdom gently, but always getting her point across. As I say in the final chapter of the book, “with her soothing voice and buoyant spirit, Peg has that rare ability to put everything into perspective no matter what the day has thrown at me.”

I must say that during the many ups and down of the last five years–when I was elated and optimistic or anxious and worried–Peg was always there no matter what, a great lunch and dinner partner, helping me strategize the best solutions to a variety of challenges. And as I never seem to have a pen or paper handy, she always comes armed with her trusty mini-pad in a steel case with matching pen. I can’t tell you how many paper place mats or table cloths we’ve also written on, figuring things out, making lists, sharing our professional goals, you name it.

And not least important to me, with the absence of the heroine of my book, Pearl, Peg has, in a way, filled in the void I’ve felt, the loneliness of losing a friend eased by the joy of finding another. And on a very fun note, Peg has also taken over as my prime event and party planner!

Sunset

Sunset

We’ve orchestrated some daunting events here, including a sit-down dinner for 30 for local politicians, birthday parties for many a friend, and most recently, a book launch party for Suzan Colon, the author of Cherries in Winter. Through it all, Peg arrives glamorously attired, her easy smile relaxing everyone, a great hostess. And as I’m hopeless at making coffee, and since she’s a coffee fanatic, she brings along her sublimely rousing brews.

All in all, she’s just a great gal, a magnificent friend, and I consider myself fortunate to know her.

Who’s your favorite friend and why?

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