This past weekend was an extra-long long weekend. Our a/c broke on Friday night, we had 14 cubic feet? meters? (a mountain) of dirt dumped in our front yard on Saturday morning (to fill a retaining wall we built in the backyard, down, way down, hill from the dumped pile), the plan being to, by any means possible, move the dirt from the road/lawn to the backyard, we had a rehearsal dinner for a wedding, a children’s birthday party, a wedding, among other items. Also Dave hurt his back in the midst of all of this and there are currently torrential rains predicted for about 30 hours from right now (I mention this because of possible implications of precipitation and gravity on dirt mountain).
Altogether, it was a great weekend. And helped me to recognize or remember a few important things which I will comment on (briefly?) below.
While it is important to be (really) grateful for old friends and to appreciate the value of people who have known you when you were making lots and lots of mistakes earlier in life, it is also really really important to recognize the beauty of new friends. It can be hard for me to put energy into making new friends. I have lots of people in this world that I love and I am not in very good regular contact with any of these people. Which in some ways makes putting effort into new relationships feel like a betrayal of old friends who I’m not calling, who I would love to hear from, who I would love to see. But new friends are people who are drawn to who you are today. Who are some part of whatever circumstances you are experiencing in your life now. Who don’t love you because you’ve been through so much together, but because they see the person you are right now and feel like that is a person they connect with. New friends can help you become who you want to become because there is no one you have to be with a new friend but whoever you are. There are not the same expectations to live up to.
On the other hand, old friends can help remind you of the parts of yourself that you loved so much but haven’t seen in a long time (old friends being the impetus for this Jenaissance in the first place). But I think I’ve been so loyal inside myself to old friends that it has been difficult to see how necessary, how life-giving it is to make new friends.
I think I’m learning something new about myself at this very moment of writing. Thinking about friends like you think about the stuff around your house. I feel like I have all of this unfinished business hanging around my house and that it is very hard to begin or focus on the projects I really want to do – those that will bring me the most joy – until I tidy up all of the to dos sitting in different piles. I feel like I can’t do anything new until I’ve dealt with the old, until there is order and all boxes have been appropriately checked. I think it is the same with friends. When there has been ‘disorder’ or lack of contact with some of the ‘staple’ friends of my life (which there always is in my case with pretty much every friend) then it feels like why make a new friend? I have all of these great shirts that I’m never wearing so why would I get a new shirt? But maybe what I really need now is a painter’s smock. And those blue t-shirts are so comfortable, and I will never give most of them away, but is it possible that one or two no longer fit? I’m sure there is more to think about here!
My two other ‘big’ thoughts from the weekend. 1) Weddings, in particular those of really thoughtful people, can be incredibly affirming experiences that are an important cultural tool to strengthen and reaffirm the value of marriage, of community, of friendships, of relationships, of individual expression. I went to an amazing wedding this weekend. It was so beautiful and affirming of what is good in the world. It was an honor to be included, and also really really fun.
2) Another really good thing you can do for your marriage is to have a big dirt pile delivered to your front yard that needs to be moved to the back and to have no plan for how this is to happen other than one wheelbarrow at a time by some family member (yes, Maggie does have a wheelbarrow). Doing hard physical labor together with your partner towards some end just feels really nice. Even if your face gets really really red from overheating. Even if at multiple times during the weekend you feel ‘moderately’ frustrated because just what was he thinking? And also, is now really the best time to be putting together a cart, maybe better to do that, you know, before the soil came? But I appreciated the things he could do that I could not do, and he appreciated that I was out there with him side by side working my a** off. I felt like part of a team that I wanted to be on. And there’s something else that’s harder to put into words. I felt like I could look at myself and say “He’s thinking that I’m a hard worker and he respects that and it makes him feel proud of me.” He maybe didn’t even think those things. But I thought those things and it made me feel strong and happy. And the dirt pile got smaller. And someday we will have a small flat spot in our backyard where we can sit together and smile contentedly and remember all that dirt we shoveled in wheelbarrows to make something for our kids and ourselves. It was good.
And now onto countdown items:
6) Sing with other people (I sang a song with a group for the recessional at my friend’s wedding. It feels GREAT to sing with other people (this is a scientific fact) and I so rarely get the chance to do that these days).
7) Go dancing. Also at the wedding. And my sweet husband danced with me even with his bad back. I had a BLAST.
8) Plant something. Yesterday I took a break from shoveling to plant a Japanese maple in my front yard.
Also making lots of progress on some other items: inbox almost completely dealt with, art almost all hung. Today I’m thinking of re-evaluating the list and making some adjustments as I am now under 30 away from 40… onwards!