An ode to strangers who become friends:
Love lives in a text message chain
between strangers who might someday
realize their power to change and make change.
What if I’m not good enough?
I guess I don’t really know
who I am on the inside.
Love lives in four strangers who
were thrown together
by fear and faith in something bigger.
You got this, girl.
Don’t let them tell you
that you shouldn’t or won’t;
you should, and you can, and you will.
Love lives in four friends;
strangers strung together
by “me toos,” words, and wifi.
We got this, girls.
Who we are on the inside
and have shared with the out
has already made change–
in changing each other.
Dad used to come home worn from the day, and from working a job that wasn’t meant for him. His talent was often overshadowed by younger men who perhaps didn’t have the skill, but could talk a good game. “Life’s not fair,” he used to repeat, like a paper fortune hugged by sugar cookie halves. As I entered young adulthood, I brushed off failure and disappointment by repeating the mantra I had learned at the kitchen table.
As the year winds down, folks will poke holes in 365 days of events. Some of you are shaking your fists at God, the sky, or the first person who stands idly in your way. It’s all so unfair, this year needs to end.
I get it. It’s been a tough year for me as well. Much like you, I’ve been trying to grab onto my own piece of closure and have been reflecting on a pretty hellish period. My anxiety has been the worst it’s ever been. My family battled cancer, addiction, mental illness, mortality, estrangement and loss. When I look back, I can’t believe all this shit was crammed into a single year.
I suppose that’s the thing for which I’m most thankful. Is that I was able to keep moving without noticing the weight that was resting squarely on my shoulders.
I am not a particularly religious person, but I am so thankful for blessings that went undetected until I sat down to write this. Amidst the shitstorm, I also got to celebrate remission, recovery, treatment, reconnection, and life.
Most importantly, I was given the gift of grace more times than I deserved it. More times than was fair. There’s this lyric I love that sums it up perfectly for me:
“The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.”
Like Dad said, life isn’t fair. While I hope life will someday afford equality, it will never be fair. But sometimes that’s the gift. There are plenty of times when we benefit from the cruelty of life’s challenges, and we are given chances that we often don’t deserve. There are times when we just need someone to give us a shot, whether it’s fair or just a random act of kindness.
It is so easy to blame this past year for all of our failures, our pain, and our losses. As we welcome a new, fresh year and search for closure, I am focusing on grace. On gifting it to others as it has been offered to me. To be patient, to give second chances, to let the chips land where they will. Because while every time I lose, it means someone else wins. Because every time I screw up, it provides an opportunity for renewed hope and blessings realized.
I am a known cynic, but I am quite in love with the idea of grace. Perhaps because I often don’t deserve it.
I don’t yet have children, but always thought it might be a good name for my first daughter. That is, until Dad stole the name for the cat he rescued. It all seems so unfair, but alas, that’s part of the beauty.
We are hosting Christmas dinner this year for both of our families and for friends who can’t make it home to see theirs. Our dining room table, scratched and worn from moves across the eastern seaboard, only seats four. The guest list keeps growing, last I checked, we were expecting around 10. This is a problem that will need to work itself out– with a loaves and fishes type solution.
My first thought, before invoking a miracle of biblical proportions, was to grab the piano bench.
Growing up, we used the bench much more than we used the piano. It was filled with music ranging from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Shrimer’s book of scales. I remember trying to pick out the melodies from The Sound of Music, and other scores that were much more advanced than my training. I don’t remember much else about my fingers on the yellow-stained keys, but I remember dragging the piano bench into our kitchen.
Like on Thanksgiving, when my friends crammed into my parents’ house to eat cinnamon rolls and drink coffee with a larger creamer to java ratio. Like on holidays when my aunts and uncles and extended family members came to visit for dinner. Like when my girlfriends and I would sit at the computer and message cute boys on AOL Instant Messenger.
I’m not sure what happened to it. I am sure it landed in someone else’s home after my parents moved a few years ago. Whoever has it, I hope they are putting it to good use. Whether it’s to play the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein correctly (or not), to serve as a coffee table in a first apartment, or to provide some extra seating for guests.
That piano bench is a symbol of community and family. And that there’s always room for a few more at your table.