Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My life as a house plant

OK, I'm confused ("yes, we know." says the peanut gallery). No, I don't mean generally. Today I mean specifically, confused about something.

Six years ago we moved to Sacramento. We, well, actually I, believed we would be here in our starter home for about 3 years before returning to what had become our spawning grounds, Santa Rosa. Anyone who knows us has been repeatedly annoyed by our droning on and on about the virtues of the place. "It's beautiful!", we say- rolling hills covered in oaks and vineyards, misty groves of redwoods and pastures dappled with black and white cows. Eden. "Oh, the weather! " we say - balmy, not-too-warm summers with cool sweater wearing evenings, an outrageous blue sky, cotton ball clouds and hair tousling breezes. "And the feel of the place!", we say - Artist colonies, theater, galleries, cultural events, music, farmers markets, a half hour from the ocean and the redwoods, an hour from San Fransisco. All the things we love to do right in our front yard.

Lastly, "and we have such good friends there.", we say.

Oops. Something has happened in six years. Try as I might to have avoided it, I look down at the earth beneath my feet and realize I have set down roots here. I have friends. Wonderful friends, here. Wonderful friends both places.

We stole away to Santa Rosa this past weekend, and because for the first time in ages we didn't have to be back for Sunday responsibilities, we stayed and went to church at our old meeting house. I worried as we walked in that we might not be remembered, or casual handshakes of recognition would let us know we had been out-of-sight-out-of-mind. But to the contrary, we were surrounded by sweet faces, beaming smiles and enormous hugs. We almost created a disruption as a crowd gathered to welcome us.

"Are you back!?" the questioners demanded. "We have missed you!" My heart both swelled and ached. I love these people. This is the place we started our marriage. This is the place where 3 of our children were born, where our friends cared for us through new babies, the death of my mother and many other trials and joys.

They hadn't forgotten us, but instead literally enfolded us in their arms in the chapel aisle. Within moments we had both lunch and dinner invites, and several offers to stay the night. It felt like we were home.

Later I sat in the sister's meeting, and a seat away sat Becky. She was shuffling through papers and didn't realize I had sat down beside her. Becky and I had just begun our friendship when I left. We had so much in common, but our paths had not crossed often enough for us to realize what good friends we could be until just before I had moved. I reached over the empty seat between us and touched her hand. She looked up, and a wave of expressions, one after the other, crossed her face in rapid succession; confusion, recognition, surprise... and then she pummeled me with a bone-crushing hug. She embraced me, wrapped her arms around me nearly twice and kissed my hair. She wept and and held on, and whispered, "I have missed you so much." Later, my family and I laughed and talked through lunch and dinner with the Funk's and the Hall's families. We fell in love with our dear friends all over again. It was like no time had passed at all.

It flooded back again, I love these people.

But there was a familiarity in that feeling. It was like being with one of your siblings and realizing that it is making you miss the others. I became aware, suddenly, of roots that I have also anchored in other soil.

I have been blessed in my life with lovely friends. When we came here to Sacramento I made an effort not to get too emotionally attached to anyone for fear of pain when we eventually left. But, wow, am I ever attached. And I get more attached by the day.

In the past few months a new friendship peeked around the corner. Ellen and I have been in the same general vicinity for nearly two years, but just realized that we are woven from the same cloth only a few months ago. There is a safety and comfort I feel with her that takes years to cultivate in your run-o-tha'-mill friendship. Then there is Christina, who has made me laugh for several solid days with her emails. I never knew all that was sitting across (not acrosst, she hates that) from me in the chapel all this time. Before them was Stephanie. I have known her since we moved in, but only had the blessing of her hysterically funny phone calls and monster hugs in the last year or so.

I could make this the academy awards; "I'd like to thank Nicole, Heidi, Rebekah, Joanna, the Bakers..." Wow. Have I ever got roots. Too many to name, too special to leave any out.

Sometimes I wish I knew what the future held. Since life has taken a completely different track than I ever planned, I would want to know how many of my other well-laid plans I would be better off deleting from my mental Life's-to-do list. But then if I knew, maybe I would try too hard to avoid any deviations from the plan. Deviations like making lifelong friends. I would keep my self in a pot and never let my feet touch the earth.

But potted plants never grow as much as they could when planted in deep, fertile soil.


rebekahmott said...

What a sweet post. I am so glad that I became your visiting teacher you have been a treasure. I am glad that you are here, but I am also glad that you feel so much love from your friends in Santa Rosa, that is the way it should be. Love Ya!

Joanna said...

Right back at you! I felt the same when we moved here..This is only for a short while. Well now it is for the long haul! And I know I can survive it because I have you and others who help me through!