Tag Archives: friendship

shrinemont weekend ’14

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In the beginning of July, Daniel and I headed out with friends from church to attend the annual congregational get together at the Episcopal campground that borders the George Washington National Forest. It’s taken me forever to get to posting these, because on the way there, our car broke down (RIP) and the rest of July was spent either car-less or in Florida to buy my grandparents’ car (thanks, Grandparents!).

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I had a most relaxing time despite the stress of losing a vehicle. We played literary games, sang gospel songs in three parts, read on the covered porch, ate s’mores, and went on a very educational hike thanks to the presence of an ecologist and a former geology major. I fell in a creek, got bitten by a horsefly, and overheated a bit, but that’s part of the joy of summertime!

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The weekend could not have been better.

 

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skyline drive with mary

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Mary and I have been friends for nearly 10 years. We met our junior year of high school, attended college together, and were roommates for a year and a half. She came up to visit last month, so naturally we went to Skyline Drive. It’s one of the most impressive parts of this state and I’m lucky to live so close to it. I especially love the foggy haze and flash storms that visit the mountains in summertime. It’s like exploring a primordial rain forest.

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back home again

Daniel’s friends asked him to officiate their wedding in Lakeland last weekend, so we flew down to Florida for the first time in a long time (in fact, Daniel hadn’t been back since we moved over a year ago). It was a weekend of reunions and reminiscences.

w1 w4 w6 w11 w13Though most of the people we hung out with are Daniel’s friends and family, I did get the chance to see my friend, Amanda, in Orlando for an hour or so.

Seeing old friends is a great reminder of the progress we’ve made. We think our lives are boring until we’re forced to summarize them to people who no longer experience our routines firsthand, alongside us. Everything is reanimated. We defend, reflect, reconsider. We begin to see ourselves as the protagonist in a grand narrative like we did when we were young and dreaming. We see each other through new eyes. We see we’ve grown up.

As we drove along the wide Florida roads, I realized that Virginia really feels like home, maybe more than Florida ever did. I am swaddled in the mountains, set at ease by this community. Life is richer here.

All I need now is for my Florida friends to move to Virginia. That would be heaven.

at the skyline

blue ridge moutains love queen anne's lace frolicking girl in wildflower fieldbee on wildflower skyline drive mountain overlook yellow swallowtail butterflymountainsTaylor and I became fast friends this summer. She’s moving to Georgia at the end of the week and I wanted the chance to meet her husband, newly arrived from Wales, before they departed. I took the day off and we all took a trip to Skyline Drive.

We saw wildflowers galore, dozens of butterflies, bees harvesting nectar for Wildflower Honey, deer, a turkey, a groundhog, and panoramic mountain scenes. We even got the chance to stop in to the Visitor’s Center to purchase some memorabilia; while perusing the gift shop, we witnessed a Junior Ranger excitedly – and somewhat bashfully – getting sworn in. We clapped for the new ranger, exchanged group photos with a family parked at one of the overlooks, and marveled, once again, at the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains.

 

on coffee shops

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Coffee shops are a necessary social institution. They’re a place for meeting, reuniting, flirting, reading, studying, napping, meditating, observing, and imbibing.

I feel immensely grateful to work in one. I eavesdrop on brown-nosers, innovators, hobbyists, gossipers, and over-sharers. I see joyful reunions and daily fights between friends over who gets to pay for whose latte. I meet local business owners, professors, students, artists, volunteers, and retirees. I see kindness and generosity extended. I see community at work. And I get to be a part of it.

Today I met a new friend at a local coffee shop. Although the ambiance differed from the one where I work, the purpose was the same. Coffee shops create an open atmosphere for free expression, a safe space for complaining, intervening, and frivolous merry-making alike.

My daily work is addictive. That we can unite under the banner of espresso – republican and democrat, Christian and Atheist, heterosexual and homosexual, scholar and athlete, male and female – fills me with joy.

Diplomats should consider conducting their meetings exclusively at coffee shops.

twenty four

I turned 24 years old yesterday.

It sucked.

Objectively, there was absolutely nothing wrong with my day: I slept in, opened up a few presents from Daniel (he got me a series of early Bakelite pieces), went to work, got complimented on my outfit, received a delicious smelling candle from my boss, ate some honey bunches, and had the best Chinese food in town from the comfort of my living room. It was actually a pretty perfect day.

But I felt miserable. The article I posted upon my arrival here indicated that there comes a point after every move when the mover’s positive expectations come crashing down. I feel that I’ve made great professional and personal progress since moving here. But I need help in the social department. I’ve met lots of potential friends, had great conversations, participated in activities, and gathered phone numbers, but I haven’t quite gotten to the state where I and my social partner mutually acknowledge our friendship. I really do think that a handful of local people would have been happy to celebrate my birthday, but I was too shy, and too set on wallowing, to ask.

My birthdays have been, at least for the past 5 years, a reunion. Different groups of dear friends may never have mingled throughout the year, but they were always at my birthday. We’d get a big table at a restaurant and have a lovely, raucous time catching up. It was more a celebration of the great people in my life than a celebration of my birth. The realization that I wouldn’t get that reunion this year hit me yesterday, along with all the sadness and insecurity of losing the daily, physical support of many friends.

I realized, too, that the birthday group I memorialize was gone before I moved, separated by distance, spouses, falling-outs, jobs, and heaps of schoolwork. Life is likely full of more chasms, more continental drifts, and I have to let it go and learn to live on my newly formed patch of grass, letting go of what it was, disregarding what it looks like elsewhere.

Thank you to all who sent me birthday greetings via mail, text, facebook, and phone. I know you’re out there and I appreciate your kindness. You’re still there, I know, but it’s hard to feel that sometimes.Twenty four will be a good, productive, transformative year, I’m sure.