I'll just start with saying that the blog I was working on last week didn't save an update in which I'd made major edits and written the bulk of the content. I was so bummed I couldn't get myself to revisit it. So I'm officially missing a week of the Manzanita Project. I may get to it one day, though the time-sensitive nature of the subject matter (on turning 36!) may prevent that. So there's that. And here's this:
This week I'm thinking about girlfriends. Specifically, I'm thinking about the women in my life who have kept me laughing over the past 20 years and been there for me when I didn't feel like laughing much.
It started like this: for my birthday, my kind and thoughtful boyfriend Kevin surprised me by installing a new stereo system in my car and having a broken speaker fixed. He said he knew how much I love music and didn't like that I did so much driving, unable to enjoy music during all that drive time.
So the new stereo has a USB port, and I've been plugging in my iPod, getting back in touch with a whole ton of music I'd been missing. I love putting it on random so I can be surprised every time and can ensure there is no shortage of variety. And that's how I came to hear my gal Kelsi coming through the speakers yesterday. "Monkey!" I said, "that's Auntie Kelsi singing!"
He took it in.
The song we heard was a now 15-years-old one called "Amazing," which Kelsi wrote on the heels of returning from Mexico with our friends Nicole and Rachel and me; we'd gone as human rights observers to Chiapas in the summer of 1998. We came back with a friendship solidified by adventure and conflict and soaring, ridiculous dreams.
One of the lines in the song says that our friendship involves "infinite inspiration, language laced with laughter, late-night conversation." I heard that line and thought about all of the above...how much we'd done of it over the years and how much things have changed in each of our lives.
Between us we now have at least 10 kids, including stepchildren absorbed along the way. We've lost track of Rachel (that's why it's at least 10 kids, rather than a final head count), but last we were in touch, she was living in a yurt in Northern(er) California with her husband and daughter, making and selling natural soaps and beauty products. She never was one for convention.
None of us were.
Or maybe I was.
As I sit writing this, I'm listening to this other of Kelsi's albums on Spotify (you can, too!).
There's a song on it that was written about a night we all went salsa dancing in downtown San Jose, one about Nicole's first pregnancy (surprise!), one called Ask Me that is so raw and sad you just want to reach out a give Kelsi a big hug.
It's a musical time capsule. A beautiful tribute to togetherness, and to lack thereof. I love that I can listen to it and remember those unfathomably carefree times in our lives and be equal parts sentimental for them and relieved that things have settled into, well, more conventional patterns.
My gals are forging ahead as they always have, as am I. We have less contact and many more miles between us. Our daily dealings look much, much different than when we all converged on our one-bedroom duplex on 11th street after work at about the same time each early evening and sat on a couch facing the open front windows and smoked cloves and watched the world (and our halfway house neighbors) go by.
We have looked into and summarily dismissed a handful of religions, we have tried on and left hanging outside the dressing room various relationships. We have held numerous jobs, driven a dozen cars, and transitioned into having grown-up discussions about things like health care and women's rights (well, that was always there) and the appeals and drawbacks of homeschooling.
The title of this blog is from a song of Kelsi's called All That:
We are deep...in the marrow of it,In the case of this song, "it" referred to love. For me, now, it refers to life (words which can often be used interchangeably). We are somewhere around the middle now. When I met Nicole and Kelsi (at 12 and 14, respectively), we were near the beginning.
we swim in the richness.I can't get enough of it.
What will happen between now and the end? How many more changes of address and meeting spots? Will our kids grow up and marry each other after all like we used to joke about, long before there were real life kids to refer to by name? :P
These women are two of the gifts I have been most grateful for in my life. They have caused me to grow in ways they are somewhat aware of and ways they couldn't possibly know (ways I myself can sometimes only understand years later). If they were the only two girlfriends my life had known, I'd consider myself abundantly blessed.
Cheers to my gals. I love you both.