Girlfriends. There is really nothing like them in the world (and boyfriends too, I suppose…). I recently read an article giving an alternative voice to the measures of social success. I don’t remember the details exactly, but I do remember that one thing that was considered healthy was the ability to maintain friendships over long periods of time. (As opposed, I assume, to having a multitude of friends that are constantly shifting). So hurray! I am a social success! (I wish I could put the article in a better context, but it’s late, and I’m not digging it out right now.)
Who would have thunk?
I’ve lived in the valley now for over five years, and sometimes I am amazed by all the people I know here. I am so happy to have landed in a place with such a wonderful community. A place where it is not unlikely that I run into someone I know almost anyplace, but where I can still go places without knowing anyone at all. I’m a firm believer in the two year rule: you have to give someplace at least two years of living there – one to get your feet on the ground, and one to really LIVE there – before you can pass judgment. Five years is the longest – by far – that I’ve every lived anywhere consecutively since high school, and it’s amazing how things can shift while I’m standing still. And through these five years , I’ve met a lot of people, most of whom are just aquaintences, but many of whom are turning into true friends.
And where am I going with this? And what does it have to do with Easter? I’m asking myself the same question. Sometimes I sit down with a plan, and then my fingers just start typing…
Oh yeah. So I’ve met a lot of GREAT people in the valley – some of whom I’m sure will turn into lifelong friends – but as the girl scouts say: “… one is silver and the other’s gold.” There’s nothing like old friends.
[I don’t have a scanner, but if I did I would insert a really great old photo of Amy here. You’ll just have to read the following story and use your imaginations]
When I first met Amy, she was selling acid out of her boyfriend’s van at a highway pullout on the way to the high desert in Arizona. We were both freshman in college, and also both part of a caravan of 18-year-olds heading north to Sedona for the weekend to camp – among other things. Shortly after this little pit stop, the car I was riding in was pulled over by the police, and by the time we were released, we had been separated from the rest of the group by many miles. Amy spent that weekend camping with the group, and I spent a crazy weekend in Payson and Sedona with my fellow passengers in the car – my roommate at the time, and two guys I didn’t even know. Ah college…
Amy and I became better friends later that year, when she moved across the hall from me in the dorm. I’ll leave out the details, but over the years we went from going to rainbow gatherings -really – to sharing a house together in Philly (with her husband and oldest daughter – who I watched come into the world), and from there to here.
What this has to do with Easter I don’t know. I’m digressing.
I guess what it means is: it’s really nice to sit and chat with other parents after school on a regular day, but right now it’s a holiday weekend, it’s eighty degrees outside in April, my friends are in town, and there’s beer to be drunk.
Day One –I brought Luna with me to pick up Emerson from school, and the minute she got home she immediately took her dress off. I think she thought her tights looked like Luna’s pants. And who needs a dress OR pants when your four? I sometimes forget how small Emerson still is until I see her next to a bigger girl.
Emerson loves Luna so much, and was so excited for her to be here. She has been having such a good year at school, but it’s great for her to have her older friends (and friends who she doesn’t see every day) to hang out with too. The kids in Emerson’s class are all really sweet, but it’s always nice to have other friends, with whom Emerson can try out different things. From the moment we got home there was running and jumping and sunshine and just happiness that our friends were here!
How can you go wrong when it’s 80 degrees on the first of April?
It was all beer drinking, unpacking, getting the groceries out of the car, girls in and out, and then we all got ready to head out to town to meet Matty for dinner. When I came back inside to grab something and lock up, I noticed that the cat wasn’t in any of her normal relaxing spots, so I took a quick look around at her usual hiding spots. I couldn’t find her anywhere, and was a little concerned that she might have gotten out, but everyone was waiting for me, and Ophelia was SCREAMING in the car, so I left….
We met Matty and ending up going out for Indian food at the same restaurant we had all gone out to almost five years earlier when Emerson was six weeks old. And of course, we hit Herrell’s afterward. The evening was full of delicious food, beer, ice cream and lots of April Fool’s jokes. “Daddy – what’s that huge alligator doing climbing in your ear?”
We got home late, and scrambled around trying to get the girls in their pajamas and to bed. In doing so, I realized the cat was really no where to be found. Ugh. Naked girls running around, little ones crying because they’re so tired, and me imploring Matt to get outside and find the cat before total darkness comes. No April Fools.
Matty went out for a while and called the cat. Nothing. Sparkle, we just got you – why’d you have to leave so soon?I have to admit, the cat being gone put a damper on my day. I felt so bad for the little cat, out there alone in the dark. I felt so guilty for not paying more attention to the door being open and everyone running in and out, and the fact that she was probably scared shitless that we had so many people running all around, kids picking her up and dragging her around. Mostly, I couldn’t believe that after all we’d done to get her used to living with us, and after only being with us for a short time, she was gone. Just like that.
I couldn’t sleep at all that night. Every time Matt would move a little bit, I thought it was Sparkle jumping on the bed, and I would wake up, just to realize she was gone all over again. I got the cat so that the kids could feel empathy, but it’s me who’s the sappy one I guess. Ugh. An edge to an otherwise perfect day.
But dawn always brings clarity. Especially a sunny dawn. So after sleeping about a total of two hours…
Day Two –
I got outside pretty early to call for the cat. Another thing the dawn brings is action over thinking – which is always preferable. I still felt horrible, but made a plan to do everything I could. It was really nice to walk around the woods so early in the morning. It was so quiet, and I found places on behind our house I never knew existed. (Like a waterfall). I kept on having visions of hearing her up a tree, or her just running up to me -these visions oscillating with visions of her being eaten by a coyote or a fisher cat – but she didn’t come, and I walked home feeling like I just had to push it all out of my mind.
The kids were already outside when I got back, building a “Bridge to Terabithia.”
I lingered around for a little while in their play, but ended up intentionally staying away from them for most of the weekend. Emerson has always been such a sensitive little girl, and when she was younger, I always felt like she needed an advocate in her dealing with other kids – and sometimes adults. She was always getting pushed around and getting her feelings hurt – really hurt. But Emerson has come a long way this year in her independence. She is still sensitive, but has the ability to let things roll off her now, which is more than I could have asked for a year ago. I’m also confident that although she still follows kids -especially older ones – and imitates them, that she also has a clear sense of who she is – at least as clear as a four year old can get. She learns from imitating people, and she likes trying different things on for size, but she’s Emerson through and through. It was very freeing for me to feel comfortable staying out of the kids dynamics. I know she will come to me if she needs something, or has something on her mind, but she is at a point now where she needs likes to figure these things out on her own.
And kids will do what they do. Luna was really into racing this visit. “I can eat faster than you, I can run faster, build this faster, etc…” It irritated Matty, and he tried to counter it by telling Emerson that it’s not important who gets finished first. But it’s all just words. Emerson needs to try it on – just like Luna is trying it on – and see if it fits. The most important advice I ever got about kids imitating undesirable stuff was to not resist it. Just let it play out in them, keep on being the parents you are, and they will come into their own eventually. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to trust my daughter. I wonder how long it will last…
The reality is that Luna will always be older than Emerson. She’ll probably always be the leader – or at least for a while – and she’ll always be one step ahead of Emerson. So it’s a good thing they have so much fun together! I’m actually amazed at how well they played together the entire weekend. It will be interesting to see the different forms their relationship takes. Because like it or not, they’re stuck with each other.It was another beautiful day. Being outside all day breathed life into the adults and kids. Yeay spring!Later that afternoon we blew out some eggs for the girls to decorate.
Later that night, we went up to Vermont to have dinner with one of Amy’s friends from childhood and her family. I always love meeting new people, and seeing how other people are living their lives. It’s rejuvenating. It was such a great night, but I still kept having these flashes of bad thinking about the damn cat.
It was like breaking up with a guy when you know the relationship has been over for a while, and you go about your day feeling empowered and great, like you’ve done the right thing, but every once in a while you just seize up with a bad feeling. Ugh. The cat was so sweet, and she loved the kids, and she was so helpless and out there all alone…
When I first realized she was gone, Amy’s husband said she’d be back. He told me a story of his cat, who was gone for a month and just showed up one day. Amy’s Vermont friends said the same thing. I have to admit, that although I really didn’t believe it in my heart – they were talking about outdoor cats, not scaredy indoor ones – it was reassuring. Maybe I have given up all hope too soon. Maybe she was still out there somewhere. And of course then I felt guilty for not talking to neighbors, or hanging up signs. On the ride home, I promised I’d do more tomorrow.
But I didn’t. I went out early and called for her again, but as the day went by there were no signs, or telling neighbors to be on the look-out. There was beer, and egg decorating, and more people – Matt’s dad and my mom showed up in the afternoon for the holiday – and horseshoes and walks,
and did I mention that a logger had been sawing away all weekend too? (Which bodes even worse for an indoor kitten lost in the woods)
Day three is usually a hard day for the girls. Unlike other friends – who you see at school, or visit at their house for a few hours – when Luna and Emerson see each other, it’s usually for a four day stretch. Which means they have to spend every waking moment together for four entire days. Which for two little girls, is very hard.
This visit was actually the best one yet though! Usually by day three, Luna is sick of playing with Emerson, and wants her to get away from her, and Emerson is crying because she is so exhausted. Emerson did get exhausted
and she did cry – for what reason I will never know. We were in the bathroom fixing her hair, and she just broke out crying. But after she sat on my lap for a while – after having me lock the door so no one would see her – she was fine. And throwing horseshoes to boot.
And although Luna had her moments, the girls got along fine that evening as they toasted up their marshmallows in the backyard.
I just had to add this extra photo because I love Ophelia in the background. She’s such an eater.
I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but at some point that evening, Amy called me inside to come look at something. When I walked through the front door, she held up a pregnancy test, reading positive. We had been talking about kids, and how she was thinking she wanted one more, and how there was a chance she could be pregnant, but that really wasn’t the news I was expecting. THREE!
Little Lexi is going to be a big sister…All these people having babies around me makes me think of how much fun it would be to have three kids. I went back to the feelings I had in the fall – just having another person around. The chaos. The idea of three is so much fun!
Amy’s pregnancy has kicked off those feelings in me again – or maybe it’s just a biologic urge – but after many daydreams, I realize that I like the idea of it more than the reality. I don’t want to get a new car so that everyone can fit. I don’t want to have to live in poverty forever. I want to be able to afford the education I want for my kids. I want to be a stay-at-home mom for my children, but I don’t want to do it forever. I want to travel on an airplane again. This and many other things – including my husband’s absolute refusal – will keep that urge in it’s place. Maybe the desire will live in me for a bit longer, but I think that as my kids get older it will go away. If one just pops into our lives – like our first two did – sometime in the distant future, then so be it. But for now, I’m ordering bar-codes to sell all our baby gear in a consignment sale. I will live vicariously through my friends with many little ones.
Anyway, after the sun set and the girls went to bed, Amy and I cleaned up the kitchen while my mom – the quintessential cat lady – set to work on sign making. [I was going to insert a photo of her wonderful signs on here, but I don’t really feel the need to share my phone number and address with the entire blogosphere]
There’s something really nice about being in a kitchen with a bunch of woman, after the children have gone to bed, and the men are outside being ridiculously drunk and playing horseshoes.
There was something so comforting and warm about the house that night. The first weekend of the year when it was warm enough to open the windows after dark. The only noise the spring insects waking up – and some clangs from horseshoes. Good friends around us. A new baby on the way. It was a moment of repose from the rest of the weekend, where the craziness turned into something quiet and transformative. But there was still that nagging feeling.
Later, as we sat on the couch sewing together felt bunnies for the girls Easter baskets, I just decided to let go. It had been a long weekend, full of both wonderful and sad emotions. I love when the Hutchinson/Moultherrien gang gets together. At that moment I realized how very lucky I was to have two healthy children who were safe in bed, and to be surrounded by friends and family on this holiday. I couldn’t ever ask for more.
And then, through the silence…