“hold your own
know your name
and go your own way”
I am the kind of girl who can quote Jason Mraz on my blog. It’s a Jason Mraz kind of month. There you have it.
My first friend when I moved to Toronto (besides the amazing Choms who got me to Toronto to begin with) was this guy:
We did a lot of life together. He stayed on in Canada little longer than me. Our season in parallel was a mixed bag. Our friendship, though, was full of laughter and life (and beer and food and movies and adventure). I think for the most part we brought out the best in each other. We were kinda inseparable. Until we went our separate ways.
We’ve lost touch. Our separate ways led me to Texas, him to New Zealand. We have not been email friends. We do not instant message. We haven’t communicated, really, in years. We happened to have overlapping trips to our former playground last week, so we met up and did what we always do. We laughed and drank some beer and caught up. The good old days came right back.
God’s handiwork in weaving our lives together during that first year in Toronto seemed evident in one quick (too short) evening… I guess God knew our stories needed loose threading to work. Yet he put enough detail in for us to be able to pick up easily. Our goodbye was heartfelt. I’d missed the melody of his Irish accent, and the certainty in his ability to find humor in any and every circumstance… even when his story challenged him immensely.
Toronto was a place where my identity got rooted. It is the place where God took me to show me how to be myself and in my own skin while trying (and failing… a lot… still) to understand what it means to be loved fully, unconditionally, always, by God. I started to be okay with myself there. Andrew was a good friend during that time, because he didn’t get caught up in the process. He quietly walked alongside me for that season. He did not have a lot of expectation. Those kinds of friends are rare treasures.
He said he’d missed me. I said the same of him. We’re going to try to do better at staying in touch. We’ll see how we do.
I’m thankful we met, albeit quick. Our time back in the day also introduced me to these guys:
They were in the background of my story the first year I lived in Toronto and moved to the foreground the second year. It was a tough year for them and for me in many ways. We did our share of eating and talking and drinking and processing. They got married… not the tough part… cancer was the tough part. We did our best with what life was handing us at the time. I came to love their determination, their respect, their love for each other.
We’ve remained friends, in touch here and there over the past few years. When their little guy was born this year, I so, so, so wanted to meet him. I finally got to, because they are totally the kind of people who bring their baby to a bar.
He snuggled up to me, already asleep. I kissed his little cheek and marveled at the wonder of babyness: new, beautiful, small, bent towards wonder, teachable… He spent most of the evening unaware of the conversation… His freshness contrasted a dark bar in a corner of Toronto where some old friends were catching up. I love that he was there, little and cuddly, in my arms. I love how relationships work, creating space for new things as they shift and transition and change. A baby in a bar among old friends reminded me there will always be new reasons to go back to the places that matter. Because going back to the old places for new reasons sometimes helps you find your way back to the core of who you are.
And that is what a few days in Toronto did for me. That makes me thankful.