Over the past 14 months, while we've all been home during the pandemic, there have been a lot of unanticipated things that changed because of the way we've been living. Some of them have been wonderful, like being able to sleep more now that I don't have a commute, and better work life balance that comes with working at home. Of course, there have been many other things that I haven't loved as much, like missing out on concerts and events I had been looking forward to or missing big family events at the holidays. Now that we are finally starting to come out of our hibernation and slowly return to our lives as they were before March 2020, I've realized something I missed a lot that I didn't even realize I was missing... the friends of my friends.
These are the people you see four or five times a year at your friends' birthday parties and backyard summer barbeques. The people you have grown to know over the years through being at the same gatherings. The people you might be friends with on Facebook or Instagram, but don't have phone numbers for. The people on the fringes of your life, whom you never had FaceTime calls with during lockdown, but would genuinely care to know what's going on in their lives.
Their lives all carried on during lockdown too. The tiny babies you remembered are now toddlers, and new tiny babies have made their debut. People have bought houses, gotten dogs, cut their hair, and a million other big and little things. Things that seeing someone even four or five times a year don't seem as dramatically noticeable as when you haven't interacted with them in over a year.
It's easy to think of your friends as being the people in your innermost circle, or even to think of the pandemic as a way of paring down, or showing you who was really important to you by way of seeing who remained close during time apart. But even while talking to those close friends this year, and being so grateful to have that network of people, there were times when things felt lonely. After seeing some of these friends on the outer edges of my circle again, I'm reminded that even the most casual friendships truly help round out our social circles in an almost surprisingly meaningful way. They play a bigger role than I had realized in keeping my circle full and vibrant. Just because you don't see someone often doesn't mean that you wouldn't miss them if they were gone, and I'm grateful to this time away for showing me how much it means to be part of a larger network. As the days get warmer, and the pandemic finally (hopefully!) starts to wind to a close, I am really looking forward to seeing these people again and growing my circle back to its former glory.
Several years ago, I was registering for gifts for my wedding. I sifted through so many websites looking for the perfect set of plates, and just couldn't find what I was looking for. In my mind, I kept thinking of my Mimi's dishware. Old white plates with a kind of geometric Native American type design along the border. Not really my style, and yet, I kept looking for something that looked like those plates. But no matter how many places I looked, I couldn't find just the right thing. There's no way I ever could have, and not just because they were decades old and no longer available for purchase.
You see, what I realize now, that I didn't then, is that what I truly loved about those plates were the many, many streaky silverware marks that made once white dishes swirled into gray. (It's no surprise thinking back now that I ended up registering for gray plates... the closest I could get, I guess.) I remember once when I was very small, cutting something on my plate at Mimi's house and realizing the lines I left behind with my fork, feeling both a little guilty and also kind of amazed. Before that moment, I hadn't realized that those weren't originally part of the plates, but rather markings from the people who used them. What I was trying to register for all those years ago was the physical manifestation of a happy, well-lived life. Something I could never buy, or even force. Even if I'd bought thrift store plates, those wouldn't be MY silverware markings. It's something that simply takes time. Many marks made over many, many years. From special birthday dinners, and little snacks before bed, to a piece of fruit loving cut for your sister or your nephew. It is the evidence of happy memories you didn't even realize you were making in the moment that added up to be a wonderful life when viewed in retrospect.
I'm finally starting to see some of those markings on my own dishes, albeit with a different husband (a whole different story for a different day). Every time I take out my favorite casserole dish and see those little gray scrape marks, it fills me with happiness and gratitude for the beautiful life I'm building, and I can't wait to see how they accumulate over the years to come.
I think this may become a regular column here, as I have many more little moments and manifestations I'd like to share, but I'd like to let them stand alone to really appreciate each one. What is your physical manifestation of a life well-lived? Whatever it is, I hope you take time to cherish it.
Here we are again, my friends. The first blog post on my blog... well, that is to say, my new blog. Those of you who know me probably know that this is not the first time I've typed out a blog post, announcing a new project, a new blog to follow, one that will definitely stick this time. The practice isn't new, but the intention is.
In the past, every time I have tried to start a new blog, I start with a great idea, but quickly become bogged down in the details. Creating the perfect design, selecting colors and logos, trying to find that perfect niche that will be both interesting and profitable. I spend so much time thinking about what content will be engaging that I lose sight of why I started in the first place - just to write. To share my thoughts and ideas, to tell stories, to share a piece of myself with anyone interested enough to listen. Because truly, that's all I have ever wanted to do with past blogs. Just to be able to work on my craft, and hopefully, to share that gift with others. I don't really care about making sure I'm using the right SEO key words, or what colors I will use for my "signature brand." All I truly want is a place where I can come to type out a post, or an essay, or a couple of poems. A place to collect my thoughts without worrying if they tie into my niche or seem like a departure. So, that's what this is. Just that and really nothing more. And it feels so freeing to allow it to just be... exactly as it is.
I can't promise anything that will be life changing. I can't promise that you'll get the same type of content on exactly such a day every week. But I can promise that the musings you find on this page will be written from the heart. Be it a true personal story, or a fictional one I've crafted just for fun, you'll get the real me, not the one I create to be Pinterest famous. So, I hope you'll come along with me on this journey to see what new and wonderful things we find in the wide open spaces of my heart and mind. I can't wait to see what's been waiting for us there!
See you soon,