My year is off to a great start. Already, I’ve renewed what once was a valuable friendship to me. Yesterday, I met up with a friend of mine that I haven’t seen in almost a decade. In a previous life, our husbands worked together for the same big church in my area. She is still married to the same husband she was married to then (yay for them!) and my husband from that former life is now my ex. He still works for the same big church. Things changed, my marriage and my life erupted like the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima as failing marriages of staff people in large conservative fundamentalist churches have a way of doing. My friend and her husband moved away to Portland, Oregon, went to school and well, though I’ve thought of them over the years often, we just lost contact. But our daughters, who were born about the same time nearly 15 years ago, stayed in touch. Earlier this week I received a surprising phone call from Portland Friend with the request that our daughters get together since Portland Friend and her family were in town for the holidays.
I have to say I was a bit nervous about this. I felt the shame of my past come rushing up as it sometimes still does when I come into contact with folks who were in on the front lines of the action when that whole nightmare went down. I needn’t have troubled myself. When Portland Friend walked in the door, it was like time had never passed. Her first words to me were, “You know, Cat, one of these days you’re going to start aging!” I laughed at her. I was thinking the exact thing about her. “You look great!” I fumbled.
We spent some time getting caught up on each other’s lives and just talking about bigger things. Like God. Like Church. Like life, dreams, goals and purpose. Like how we’ll probably neither of us do the organized church ministry again and how that entire experience changed our lives. Like how we really take issue at some points with organized religion…at a lot of points. Portland Friend and her husband are now working with people in crisis, homeless people, drug addicts, those most people would call the dregs of society. Church image, attendance, activity and rules are no longer the focus of their lives. She relayed to me how her husband was noted as saying, “If given the option to spend an hour with heroin addicts or the church board, I’ll choose heroin addicts. They are the ones who know they need to change.”
I found as we talked that though our lives had gone different directions over the years our perspectives continued to be as congruent as they’d ever been. We’d ended up in the same place on many issues though our roads to get there diverged greatly. It was a fascinating almost revelatory conversation for me in some ways. I told her of my feelings of restlessness here and that I felt I was nearing a bit of a crossroads. I’m not exactly at the place where I can make the choice to go one direction or another but I see something like that appearing on the horizon.
“I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if it meant I moved away from this area”, I told her, “But right now the liklihood of that seems so remote.”
“It sounds like you smell a change coming. It will be interesting to see what happens to you. Let’s keep in better touch from now on. And I want you to come up, stay with us for a weekend and explore the possibilities in our area,” she smiled. I knew she was not just offering that invite out of courtesy either. I know this about Portland Friend, she doesn’t have a false bone in her body.
Eventually we both realized that though we could have talked all night, we had to get back to reality. We exchanged phone numbers and emails, said our goodbyes and off Portland Friend and her daughter went.
I don’t believe people enter our lives or leave them on accident. I don’t believe Portland Friend’s re-entrance in my life at this particular time was inconsequential. What does it mean? I have no idea. What will come of it? I may not see the significance of that particular event for years to come. It is nice to know, that if I should ever want to consider relocating to Portland, there is someone there who could help me navigate what could be an overwhelming transition were I to go it alone. That reality alone is significant. I’m reminded again how life turns on a dime and sometimes the little things turn out to be really big things. I’m wondering if this little conversation might be one such little thing.
I can tell you this: Because of that conversation I’m anticipating an interesting year.