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Monday, August 1, 2011

Amazing Blessings--Improptu kid-free weekend and Old Friends

So, a very dear friend of mine is going through a difficult time right now.  She is my best friend in fact and we have known each other since we were freshmen in college a mere 19 years ago.  I was maid of honor at her wedding 15 years ago, she was matron of honor at my ceremony 7 years ago, we have been through thick and thin together, and have been anchors in each others lives for these long years, whether we lived in the same house, in the next town over, or over 250 miles apart.  She is going through the breakdown of her marriage, and this past weekend was moving from the apartment she and her husband have shared for 6 years to move into the little one bedroom in-law apartment in her parents basement.  This, as you can imagine is a very hard move, as the processes involved in the ending of a marriage are all very painful and require a lot of changes, both inside and outside of a person.  So, I really wanted to be there to support her in this move and help her move both her possessions and her emotions into this new situation.

However I did not think it would be possible, as taking the kids with me would not be helpful to anyone, even if they were neuro-typical children, small children visiting from 6 hours away is just not going to help with the physical act of moving or with the emotional transitions taking place.  And with the difficulties between A and I last week, A had said NO to watching the kids so that I could go do that (originally A had said yes, but then all hell broke loose when I made the decision to say what I said and A backed out).  Then at the last minute on Friday late morning, A agreed to keep the kids and stay at my house with them for the weekend so that I could go help my friend.  This was difficult as A really has not had the kids solo very much in the past 9 months, and for a solid 48 hours at that.  But I was glad that A was ready to have some one-on-two alone time with the boys, as that is important for their relationship to not always have mama there.

So, as I had not prepared for the trip and was in GF waiting for the boys to be done with school, I cleaned the car out at the car wash (vacuumed and wiped down the inside (a stick mess it was, and more cereal in all the nooks and crannies than I can to admit)), got the oil changed (and they discovered an old squirrels nest in the air filter system, so I had them change both air filters (engine and cabin)), got a free car wash (part of the oil change package--yeah Jiffy Lube and Hoffman's), and then picked up the boys.  It meant driving an hour in the "wrong" direction to take them home, got them settled, packed my car, made my green smoothies for the ride, made a sandwich, waited for A to be ready (A had errands to run too and forgot to get cigs, so ran out at the last minute to get cigs--I'm so glad I quit smoking so many years ago), and finally at about 5:45pm, unbeknownst to my dear friend, I hit the road for the Boston area.  By the time it was around 10:00pm, I figured I should call my friend and let her know I was coming.  She did not answer so I just left a message telling her to call me on my cell phone (which means I was not within 30 minutes of home as I live in an area where cell phones don't work anywhere nearby).  So as I am getting off the exit that is only 5 minutes from her house (around 11:00pm) she returns my call and asks me where on earth I am that I am on the cell.  So I tell her the exit I am getting off.  What a GREAT reaction I got!!!  There is nothing like surprising a friend with your presence.

The move went well, and I actually had the foresight to call another friend of mine from college on Friday when I found out I was going to come, and let her know, as nearly every time I have been in the area she has been out of the area (oddly three times when I was within 30 minutes of her house, she was within 30 minutes of mine--6 hours away).  So I had left her a message telling her about the move, and she was able to come up and help with the move and spend some time with us.  It was the third time I have seen her in 7 years, so it was wonderful to catch up with her and for both of us to help my dear friend. 

On Sunday, my friend that I was visiting had to work in the morning instead of her normal routine of going to church (her farm (she is a therapeutic (and regular) riding instructor) had a horse show and some of her students were in it).  Her mother invited me to attend church with her, but I decided that it would be an opportune time to go to services at my old church, where I had attended when I was in college, as it was only a couple of towns over.  I am so blessed to have been able to do that.  I did get lost on the way there as in the years since leaving the area (11 years ago) I somehow forgot exactly how to get there from where I was.  So I missed the Sunday school, as I drove over to my Alma mater, and backtracked from there without any problems.  I arrived early for service and was able to chat with an older gentleman (83 years old now) who had worked at my college and attended this same church when I was there, and so it was great to talkand catch up with him for a bit as I was early for services.  I connected with a couple of other familiar faces during the pre-service time, and was keeping an eye out for one particular couple whom are very near and dear to my heart, that I have not actually seen face to face in over 8 years.  I have kept in touch via email, phone and more recently facebook, but not had in presence time with either of them in a LONG time.  I knew that he was working at the church as the Director of Children's Ministries, so I figured I was bound to find them.  After service, I walked around a bit looking for them (the church has grown from a single church building with a parsonage next door to having multiple buildings, and unbeknownst to me, multiple services at the same time).  As I came around a corner, I saw him come out of a door.  What a huge blessing it was to greet him and give him a big hug (and say hello to their daughter who is now 10!).  He asked if I had seen his wife yet (she and I had many classes and many late nights studying together, as well as a lot of fun times, and I am closer to her than to him, though have known him and cherished him almost as long as I have known and cherished her), and I told him no, so he led me into the other building where she was.  And I got to have the great experience again of the reaction of surprising an old friend with my presence!!!

We had an amazing time reconnecting.  They invited me over for lunch, and even though I really was supposed to be leaving to get back home after church, after we stood there for an hour chatting I decided to accept their invite.  It was absolutely marvelous seeing their home, meeting their new little one who is only 6 months old, re-meeting their oldest who is now 10 and I haven't seen since she was 2, and really talking with them about life and what they have been up to and what I have been up to and all that.  Time of course went way too quickly, and soon it was far past the time that I should have been gone, so I did have to leave.  I am hoping that next month (or rather this month I guess as it is August already isn't it!?!) I can get out there again with the boys this time, after their summer program ends and before the regular school year begins.  Maybe we can go out to the area and camp near the ocean and enjoy a vacation with some more time with old friends stopping by (oddly I did not get the chance to greet my beloved ocean, I was just a couple of miles too far inland, but I was happier to see my human friends than to greet the great sea this time around, though I do miss the ocean). 

Anyway, A was not horribly upset by my later than planned arrival (of course I called after church to let A know I had run into old friends and would be later than planned, and then called after I was on the road as it was even later than the later I thought it would be.)  As it was after 11pm when I arrived home, the kids were well into their slumber.  I had talked to them on the phone before they went to bed and let them know I would kiss them both when they were sleeping as I would be home in the middle of the night.  They did wake up around 4am, and I tucked them in bed again, so that worked.  Then we were up at 6am (well 6:30 I was slow to rise this morning) and got them ready and we drove down for school (just a little late getting there).  I spent some time at the laundry mat and now I am at the library. 

I feel refreshed and renewed, not only by the kid-free weekend (don't all parents need that once in a while!?), but more so by the amazing joy that comes from reconnecting with old friends.  I have not really realized it, but I am actually lonely much of the time--not that pining kind of lonely, but that deep, isolated feeling.  And it is not that I do not have amazing friends, but it is that, as you can see from above, the past few years, I have not had a lot of real, close connections and time with friends.  Part of that is just a natural artifact of raising children, some of it is more drastic than usual because of the isolating factor of raising children with special needs, and part of it is the slow erosion that took place during the harder years with A, which really pushed me further and further away from friends and family.  So, it also does not help that many of my dearest friends live far away from where I am.  Having moved 4 hours from the area I lived for nearly 10 years took me away from those friends, and the dear friends from college are spread out all over the country (many still in the greater Boston area (and all of New England)), but some in California, some in Indiana, some in Florida, some in Alaska...

While right now I know that I need to be near family and that the school situation for the boys is well set up for this year, I can't help toying with the idea (yet again) of moving back to the Boston area someday.  But then I will have the problem that I always have--when I am living near the ocean, I miss the mountains, and when I live in the mountains I miss the ocean.  There are more jobs in the greater Boston area than in the rural area I live, but there are also a LOT more people, and I love the peace, quiet and security of the rural mountain towns. I would be closer to friends--very dear friends, but father from family.  I have gone round and round about this many, many times over the past few years.  I am sure I will go round and round about it many more times.  For now, I am staying where I am, working on getting my health back up to par, working on getting a solid base for my children in their schooling and social development, and working on transforming myself and my life into the person I want to be and the life I want to provide for my children, and if, in the future on or more of those steps brings me back to the Boston area--well then hooray!!!  But until that would be a positive move for all areas of my life and development and the lives and development of my children, we will suffice with visiting there for now.  I do plan to visit a LOT more often than we have been these past few years though.

So good friends and a weekend away is like a breathe of fresh air for the soul.   And I look forward to having a few days on the ocean with the boys in August, and connecting again with those friends whom I have been away from for too long...

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