Friday, November 12, 2010

Gratitude 10: Shelly

In my sewing room, I have a tiny Victoria's Secret bag full of embroidery floss.  I have carried that bag for years, toting around nativity stitcheries and advent calendar pockets and other gifts I have stitched.  The floss inside the bag is tangled in such a way that it would take hours to remove all the individual strands of red and black and yellow and green and orange floss from one another.

When Shelly moved across the street from me, I didn't know she was the friend I had hoped and prayed for so long.  I had imagined when we moved into our house that I would have good relations with my neighbors.  I had a secret longing for one of them to become a best friend, but the reality showed to the contrary.  It took more than 3 years for her to find her way to my street, and then it was a casual meeting of me walking across the street to introduce myself.  I still remember I was wearing a race t-shirt from a 10 mile run I had ran earlier that summer which eased us into a conversation about running that eventually turned into how many kids we had and where we were coming from and were we were going in life.  I also remember Thomas was riding a pink hand-me-down bike, and he screamed bloody murder when we left 20 minutes later.  I was excited that this new neighbor had a son the same age as Thomas.  She later made fun of the fact that my only (male) child was riding a pink bike.  But I didn't know that at the time.

From there, we became visiting teaching partners.  We weren't very good at going, I have to admit.  But it required us to talk on the phone once a month to decide who would make the appointments and who would give the lesson.  Our requisite phone calls turned into long conversations.  As we talked, we came to know each other.  I found it was easy to talk to Shelly.  We laughed at the same things, we understood each other's humor, our sons were becoming fast friends.  It was awesome.

I look back at those early days with such fondness.  We got pregnant within 3 months of each other.  We had play dates at the park with other neighbors.  I made her daughter a blanket when she was born and made sure to take dinner over.  We were building a friendship that transcended the bounds of neighbors or visiting teaching companions.

When I decided to start sewing, it was Shelly I invited to take a class with me.  When I wanted a friend for my kid to play with, it was her son (and later daughters) I called over.  If I needed sugar, I called her.  When I left on vacation, she fed my cats.  I once included her in a blog post and referred to her as my "neighbor" (it worked stylistically; it wasn't a reflection of the depth of our relationship.)  She never let me hear the end of it.  We weren't neighbors, we were friends.

Now my friend is moving. It seems a little hypocritical, since I was the one to move away first.  But I only moved half a mile away; she is moving 3 towns away.  95 blocks away.  Too far away for me to run over to ask her opinion on something I am sewing.  Too far away for our kids to be back and forth, in and out of each other's houses all day.  Too far away for us to have the casual conversations and visits we have grown accustomed to in 7 years.  We have too many strands of our lives tangled together to be able to separate them easily. I don't know how to do it. 

I know that I should just be grateful to have found such a friend who lived so close to me.  But I'm not.  I don't want our lives to unravel.  I don't want to go weeks without seeing her or her kids.  Our bond isn't made just on proximity, but it certainly doesn't hurt, either. 

So tonight I want to be grateful for Shelly.  I love her easy going friendship.  I love that I don't have to be anyone other than myself.  I love that the 7 people in her family mix perfectly with the 4 in mine.  I love that one of us can't start a project without the other one eventually taking it up.  There aren't any politics or niceties.  We can say what we think about what the other is doing and not worry about how it will be taken.  We don't keep track of who does what; we both know it will come back to us eventually.

So, I'm grateful. And sad.  And I wish I could write this post well enough to really say what I want to about the last 7 years and the incredible gift of friendship that they that bestowed on me.  I wish it were so easy, that I could just cut out the tangled floss and accept that she is moving, but it's kind of like cutting out a piece of my heart.

Thanks, Shelly. I'm going to miss you.  I hate that you are moving, but I will always be your friend.  And now I can never ever call you "neighbor" again.

PS - will you please get DSL at your new house?  There is this thing called the internet and it might make it easier for us to hang out.

PPS - can you find out where the half-way mark is between our houses? I am willing to meet in the middle if you are.


Ginger said...

Aw yes, I remember Shelly. How sad for you! Seriously, nobody stays in the same place anymore. So sad that our friends have to move away!