As I’ve said before, there are many ways to give beyond giving with your wallet. I took a trip out to Los Angeles this past weekend and saw two friends- one old, one new. What they don’t know is that they both gave me something invaluable.
I ventured out to LA with few plans and plenty of time. Lucky for me, I have a wonderful close friend Rachel who was thrilled to host me at her new house in Hancock Park, Los Angeles. Though I knew she would pick me up from the airport and host me, beyond that I had little idea of just how hospitable Rachel would be. I was truly blown away by how selfless, thoughtful, and caring my friend was during my whole trip. As an aspiring actress, Rachel has a life of her own, with classes to go to, agents to woo, and auditions to book. But for me, she took a pause. For five days, Rachel schlepped me from the beach, to the restaurants, to her house, and to the bars, all the while entirely happy to have me. Like old times at NYU, I borrowed her clothes, napped with her, watched TV with her, and cooked with her. For five days, Rachel was there for me in every way. She truly took me on vacation, all the while being my chauffer, party planner, and therapist.
Knowing that Rachel still had classes to attend and needed her full-night’s sleep, I tried to meet up with other people in those times she would be “off-duty.” Just over a month ago I became friends with Jason, a fellow non-profit professional. As he lives in LA, I asked if we could meet up while I was there. Hardly knowing me, my new friend Jason gave me the warmest of welcomes to this new city. We met up briefly in Venice Beach, checked out a small bar, got sandwiches from a popular Italian deli, he took me to Rosh Hashanah services so I could get my prayer on, and even drove me to the airport to go home when Rachel had to be in class. With no obligations to me, no “bad intentions,” and no hope for anything in return, my new friend showed me just how selfless someone can be.
Rachel and Jason seem to have no idea how unique they are. I wrote this post while on the plane back to New York, while I really had the time to think and appreciate how lucky I am to have such selfless friends. I didn’t want this trip to end without me having gained something. Usually when I come home from trips I’m excited to return with a new piece of clothing, or a new chatchke for my shelf. But this time I’ve returned with a new value. Rachel and Jason taught me, without even realizing it, how much it means to others when you give them all of yourself. I hope to take that value with me into the new Jewish year. I can’t wait now for a friend to come visit, so I can take them around New York, stay up late to show them the coolest bar, spend extra money so they can enjoy the yummiest restaurant, and wake up early to make them breakfast before catching their flight home. I want to pass on the hospitality and kindness that Rachel and Jason showed to me.