At the beginning of December, I got to go visit friends in Ohio without my husband or kids. (Note: the hubs would have been welcome, but somebody had to mind the banshees.) Although not really a birthday present, this certainly launched my birthday month in fine fettle. First of all, I stayed with my best friend since preschool, Jenny Southcombe.
Jenny and I met because our Moms became friends and we were forced to spend time together. Prior to that time, we were enemies. I wanted to follow every single rule to the letter. Jenny just wanted to play with the damned preschool toys. I don’t really remember how we overcame this, but by the time we had to go to separate kindergartens, we were heartsick, and it is probably her friendship that kept me from realizing until the following year that I had not bonded with a single one of my new classmates.
Staying at her house a couple of weeks ago allowed me to meet her nearly two year old daughter, the elfish Jena (see for yourself)
and to find out that her older daughter, the ten year old Juliette, is a kickass writer. (No, you may not see. I do not photograph anyone over age 8 or so without express permission and sometimes an invitation.) Seeing how Juliette writes was really validating for me, as well. I burned a lot of my early writing in a fit of teenaged mortification, and I have wondered fearfully for a long time if I wasn’t just arrogant to one day decide I’d be a writer. Looking at how good Juliette’s stuff is, both technically and stylistically speaking, gave me renewed confidence in my own ten year old writer self, made me feel like, yeah, I probably did know what I was doing when I picked my future career.
It also allowed Jenny and I to reconnect. We have always been the sort of friends who can pick up with each other years down the road as if no time has passed. And there have been times when we lost touch completely. But we always seem to land on the same page when we do find each other again. And this time, we found each other in glorious hour-long conversations in her kitchen and living room. We stayed up giggling until midnight and woke up thinking deep thoughts at each other. I think that, given a couple more days, we’d have horrified her children by role playing Voltron like we used to do as kids.
So, that in and of itself would have been enough of a reason for me to want to go. But realistically, until I’d done it, I had no idea how powerful it was. So I probably wouldn’t have gone for the sake of a ‘girlfriend’ visit alone. (I had no idea what I was missing. Seriously. No idea. In the future? Oh yes. I will be going to see Jenny. And others, too. And them only, one on one, even if only for a couple of days. Because these are friendships I value so much. I never want to lose them.)
Anyway, as if that wasn’t enough, I also got to go to a wedding and a baptism. And there was a for-real birthday gift in there, but I’ll get to that tomorrow. (Or, given that it’s nearly eleven and my kids are home sick and likely to be up by six, I’ll get to it first thing in the morning after I turn on the babysitter television and upload THIS entry. Or possibly Thursday. Yup. Thursday. Friday?) The wedding was fantastic. The bride is one of the few people – perhaps the only person – who I have literally known for her whole life. She is one year younger (down to the month) than my little sister was, and I can remember her mother bathing her newborn body in our grimy and inadequate sink.
Looks a little different now, doesn’t she? (Though really, she doesn’t. She’s one of these people whose face never changed its essential shape, so her baby pictures resemble her little girl pictures, and she’s so pretty.)
I’ve always considered her a cousin, since her Mom is my Auntie Em, no biological relation. And I loved having a “cousin” since my biological ones are all either about thirty years older than me and on my Dad’s side (I’ve never met them – long story) or else “twice removed” or “second” on my Mom’s side (met most of them – another long story, though). The ceremony was short (but very sweet), and the night’s focus was the reception. Cheers Morgan. May you and Jimmie have a long and happy marriage.
Finally, I made it to my Godson’s baptism. Physically, I was standing in for the Godfather. I handed my camera to one of my friends’ friends and stood at the altar. There was an awkward moment when the deacon handed me a candle.
Because right about then, the Catholic Godmother was instructed to put a vestment on the baby’s chest and I worried that maybe I was supposed to drip symbolic wax on the baby’s head. I had visions of the headline “Stand-in Godfather Accidentally Burns Baby in Botched Baptism.” Fortunately, the candle just stood for the light of God, and all I had to do was hold it and promise to love, support, and adore baby Jake.
With a face like that, how could I disagree?
That’s all for …. well a few hours. Several blog entries have hit me all at once here lately, and it will take me a few days to get everything posted.