November 23, 2005
Nothing like heading into Thanksgiving in despair...
But I wrote this cheery post, and I want to still use it. I want to remember that though there are awful, evil people in this world, some people make up for it. And if anyone can make up for it, it's these two.
Two years ago, I was very frustrated that I was losing all my college friends because of my blog. I went through a very rough patch where numerous friends emailed and said they didn't like me anymore because of my views. When my grandmother died, I learned a hard lesson:
I wish I had friends that I could talk to about how I feel about the world. I have my husband and my mother, and that is basically it...and my mother lives an ocean away and my husband will be gone for a year. We're new to our post here in Germany so I don't have any strong relationships yet, and despite my efforts, I don't hear from my old friends that often. When my grandmother died, I called my mom's best friend to talk about it, and I realized how pathetic I am that I don't have anyone I can count on anymore. And the few relationships I've been trying to hang on to really disappointed me this past week.
But I've been thinking about something lately, something that always makes me smile and know that now, two years later, I do have friends who care.
I met Erin in recycling class here. (Seriously, it's so intense we have to attend a class.) She and I were the only ones who showed up that day, and she gave me a ride home afterwards. We didn't really become friends so much as we became two people who really enjoyed running into each other on accident. When she started working at the commissary, I always was excited to go grocery shopping because I knew I could get in Erin's lane and talk to her for at least a couple of minutes.
I went to the commissary the day after my grandmother died, and when Erin asked how I was doing, for some reason I opened up and told her instead of just saying that I was fine. Erin looked at me and tears started welling up in her eyes. She said how sorry she was and how bad she felt for me. It was so touching because she was just someone I ran into in the grocery line, while friends I'd known for years had failed me. I knew that day that there was something special about Erin.
When the deployment started, Erin got a new and much better job working with a girl named Kelly. Kelly had the morning shift and Erin the afternoon, so when I got off work I would always pop next door for the last half hour of Erin's shift. One evening I stopped by to show off my newly knitted sweater, and it was Kelly in the office instead of Erin. I remember her being friendly but shy, and later Erin told me that Kelly had been so nervous to meet me that she didn't even say anything about the beautiful sweater I was wearing! Hilarious, since that was the reason I was looking for Erin in the first place.
During the deployment, I spent a lot of time popping in and out of their work. I taught them to knit and they taught me to quilt, though they've been much more prolific at their new craft than I have. I shared Thanksgiving with Kelly and Christmas with Erin, which was so generous because Erin's husband came home for R&R on Christmas morning: they opened their home to me on the day of their reunion.
The most exciting day was early in our budding friendship when Erin casually said something like, "I don't know what your views are, but I support the President and the War on Terror." You could hear my heart jumping out of my chest. We began to talk politics, longwindedly and often, and I learned that Erin and Kelly are basically South Park Republicans like me. Kelly and I bought Erin a W t-shirt for her birthday, and I've shared many a Larry Elder and Dinesh D'Souza book with them. Finally I had friends in my life, right here in the flesh and not just in cyber-land, who shared my worldview. And so I opened myself up and shared my blog address with them.
When Bunker died, I went right to Kelly's house. When I read an article that makes me so mad I could spit, I call Erin. Any time my heart hurts, any time I feel happy or sad, any time the dog does something to make me want to strangle him, I call their office. They trade shifts often, but most of the time I don't even care which one of them answers the phone, as long as Erin or Kelly is there to listen to me.
This Thanksgiving, I'm so grateful for my two best friends. I'm grateful that I met Erin, the wonderful girl who cried until Kelly and I let her take home a wounded stray dog, only to find that she's now mothering four unexpected puppies. I'm grateful that Erin introduced me to Kelly, a mother whose heart is so big that she's offered to adopt a relative's children in their time of need. Both of them are such bigger people than I am, and every day I thank heavens that I met them and wonder how on earth I'm going to part from them next year. But for today, I'm simply happy that all three of our families will sit down at the table together and share a fabulous Thanksgiving meal. (And it will be fabulous. We're making everything from scratch, and we even bought matching aprons for the occasion!)
Thank you, Erin and Kelly, for showing me that it is possible to have friends I can completely be myself around, even if Erin does make fun of my Richard Simmons exercise regime.
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