Thursday, August 16, 2007

August Showers Bring Fall Flowers

My husband often bemoans the fact that I have so many friends. Why? Why must you keep in touch with everyone, he asks. I don't know what it is in particular, but I've always considered myself a humanophile (sure, it's my blog, so it's a word if I say it is!) -- a lover, an aficionado of people.

I am endlessly fascinated by people from all walks of life. I collect people, their stories, their lives, and I store them in my pocket. They may end up in a future story, but most likely, they will help my understanding of life and the world we live in. And sometimes, to my husband's dismay, they land a small parking spot in my heart.

My husband prefers solitude. When he's ready to come out of his cave, he prefers ALL of my attention. I understand this too. I understand that he's frustrated because the space and time I allow others means less space and time for him and Nate. But with a heart so big, I worry that my love for them would consume me, swallow me up whole. So I ration it out, spread it around and try to make sure that I enrich the life of everyone I know.

Blogging has only increased this sphere. I now have dozens of "friends" that I care about. Care enough about to take time out of my day to see how their lives are, to see if I can make their day lighter with a laugh somehow. These relationships are especially hard for the Dog to understand, because he has no relationship with these women and men, most of whom I've never actually met.

But blogging saved me when I was drowning in my own shortcomings. I was lonely in my new role as mother, and the mommy groups weren't turning my crank. I could say Fuck and Shit and Pussy online and still talk about my kid without getting the hairy eyeball. When I moved to a new neighbourhood, far from my circle of friends, the blogging world reached out to me and said, "Hey, we know how you feel."

Then an email, a chance meeting, and a whole world of like-minded women were at my fingertips -- live and in the flesh. I never thought I could form such bonds in adulthood, but somehow I did. My friendships with these women have been some of the most rewarding of my life.

When Kate and I are together, we are often asked, "How did you meet?" It seems strange to say, "Oh, the Internet." It feels sleezy and tawdry and not at all representative of what we share together. We are raising our kids together, living a few streets apart, sharing dinners, homes, vacations, several dozen quick phone calls a day. She is a part of my life now, in a way that is hard to articulate on a screen. When I dreamed of how I would like to raise my family, I think Kate's family was a part of that, even without me knowing it. The crinkle of her husband's blue eyes, her daughter's unbottleable energy, Kate's craziness, incredible laugh, and one crooked tooth -- I'm in love with them all. Their little details are a part of my family album now too.

Marla, on the other hand, is my lifeline. My conscience. My good sense. She is the one I turn to when I don't know how to solve a problem, or how to get a stain out. I call her and ask ridiculous questions like, "If the chicken smells like mushrooms, has it gone bad?" And she patiently schools me on hygiene, housecleaning and the appreciation of older things and found objects. She is also my funny bone. The type of friend who can make you laugh until orange juice comes out your nose, or make you cry because she dropped warm cookies on your doorstep. That is a valuable friend indeed. Like a fine work of hand-crafted folk-art, she is a woman who deserves to be appreciated. Her nuances, her quirks, all the things that make her beautiful and completely unique. She is a treasure, a blessing, a lucky rabbit's foot at a bingo game, an imperfectly crocheted shawl that finds its way around your shoulders when you didn't even realize you had a chill.

These two incredible women (whom I met via blogging) threw me a shower a week ago. (A onesie shower! How fun is that?) On a patio in our 'hood, with tasty treats and stunning candles, centrepieces and gift bags that my dear, creative friend put her soul into -- like she does with even the smallest, most mundane task. It was attended by more fantastic women we met via blogging, some of whom have made it into my special roster of infrequent cocktail playdates, and others whose company I highly enjoy, but don't get to see nearly enough.

I cannot possibly do the description of the night's events as much justice as Kate and Marla did last week on their respective blogs. But the one thing that struck me the most was that these women, virtual strangers, gathered together to celebrate ME and the life growing inside me. That our collective experience of motherhood (and writing about it publicly) was enough to bring us together, face-to-face, to kvetch and laugh and share some more in person. The support these strangers have given me, knowing full well what I am about to embark on again, is sustenance as the waiting game grows long and the workload threatens.

You don't know me, yet in some ways, you all know me better than my own kin. You spend time with me each week, inside my head, inside my depiction of my homelife -- because you want to. And that is a pretty cool thing. My children are blessed to have you behind them, in spirit or in person.

So thank you, all of you. It takes a village and a village we have created. You'll always have valet parking in the chambers of my heart.

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