today: when we were young

Grass to us is more ground than figure, a backdrop to more legible things in the landscape- trees, animals, buildings. It’s less a subject in its own right than a context.
-p184 The Omnivore’s Dillema, Michael Pollan

Whenever I get a bit of time with Carla, my bestie, we travel back in time a bit. This trip, with the arrival of her daughter, we have done more life in the present than past visits. Still, we have history, and the endless memories of people and place provide context for who we are today. We went places together back in the day: all over Poland and to Montana and Colorado. I went to California when she lived there. She visited Ontario when I lived there.

We have never lived in the same place for more than a couple of months, but we have forged a friendship around music, lattes, the gospel and and endless array of yummy meals. I can post the following photos, and they mean something to us that a handful of our friends relate to.

To everyone else, they are merely photos of a funny whittled man and a guitar. I look at them and see the story of two girls with matching coats greeting each other on a snowy sidewalk in the sleepy town of Lakeside, Montana (pop. 500). We barely broached conversation. Fast-forward six months, and these same two girls found themselves in Czecestochowa, Poland living in a flat. That summer we taught endless Bible studies and English classes and played music and walked the streets. We rode a lot of trains. We filled pages of our journals. And late at night, after an internet cafe ritual, we talked. And talked. And talked. Sometimes until the sun came up.

We were both on a huge learning curve in regards to our faith, and God put us in Poland at the same time, I think, so that we’d find each other along the way. We did.

I was in her wedding. She will be in mine. I said then that I would come when she had a baby. I would help out. I am here.

When I look at the way our respective stories have zig-zagged through the years, I am amazed at how consistently we picked up the phone and sent emails. We’ve mailed birthday gifts and Christmas boxes. And on days like today, when I found myself snuggled in with her two-week-old girl while she and Johnny, her rock-star-and-a-half hubby went on their first post-baby date, I know I belong here. Luci and I hung out while Johnny and Carla went out.

I ate; Luci slept; she woke; we rocked; she ate. My life expanded the moment she arrived to enfold this baby girl. Children do that to the people who love them. And I love Luci because she is, but it’s her mama’s presence in my life that affords me this little one.

Emily Dickenson wrote her friends were her estate. I write along these lines a lot, because I think our culture does not necessarily help us recognize the incredible wealth the right relationships bring. And I don’t know much, but I know this: in regards to people in my life, I am very, very rich.

I also know this: It so matters who we do life with.


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