Bounce. Squeak. Bounce. Squeak.
I was on my mini-trampoline in my bedroom, listening to Sublime, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Squirrel Nut Zippers, staring out the window and doing some random combination of jumping and dancing. This window is my favorite in the whole house. It faces south; I can see about an acre of land on which sits the vegetable garden, a good portion of the goat yard, part of the yard where the children play, and I can see the corner of the barn to the southeast. Surrounding it all, making me feel safe and secluded, is forest. Fifty feet into the forest there’s a creek, of which you can catch glimpses in the cold season when the trees are bare. But it’s not bare now; everything is green. Overwhelmingly lush and green. Eye candy. In the garden I can discern flowers which just began blooming this last week. I see the cedar-pole bean-house with its long, red, “noodle” beans and heirloom cucumbers, the potato-leaf tomatoes tower over the cedar support I built for them. Among my other vegetables and perennials, covering the ground everywhere, grows the Smartweed, bane of my gardening existence.
On the edge of the forest is the paw paw patch, an area in which the goats have cleared everything but a few paw paw trees which spawned saplings and will, I suspect, begin producing quite nicely in a few years. There’s the mimosa that lost its top during the big storm a few years ago and has re-sprouted like a gorgeous, frilly fiend, and the sassafras that fought that same storm and continues its growth at a perfect 45 degree angle. Sycamore, oak, hickory, maple, elm; they’re all in there.
The weather is mild today. The sky is grey with clouds, but the sun peeks out occasionally. We’re having the most amazing July. I usually detest July, but this has been so moderate, cool. We’ve needed jackets going out in the evening to view the stars and a sweater when cozying on the deck in the morning.
Bounce. Squeak. Bounce. Squeak.
I absorbed the view in a moment. It faded to a green blur as my mind wandered. This short time of exercise each day has been good for me; a loose meditation of sorts. I thought about what time I would need to stop what I was doing to start pizza dough for dinner, thought about how much time until Justin needed to go down for a nap, thought about the music, thought about the people in my life.
I’ve always, for the most part, loved people. I like having a broad mix of them in my life, but there’s those special few that I meet that immediately find a place in my inner circle, right there by my heart (or brain, as Denny says, insisting on accuracy regarding the human emotional center—but it’s not as romantic, is it?). My peeps. And they all know who they are.
I remember the time I realized that many people would come and go from my life; it was several years ago. And I remember the time I made peace with that. It felt like a mile-marker moment when I realized that the people in my life wouldn’t all hold the same significance, but that they would all have significance, and I wouldn’t ever know, upon meeting someone, if they would end up being close to me, and how close, and if not close then maybe they would end up somehow having a direct impact on my life. Or maybe I would have an impact on theirs.
Maybe that’s when I began to come out of my shell. Maybe that’s why I don’t meet many strangers these days. Maybe that’s why I will engage with anyone and openly share random pieces of my life with anyone who seems interested. You don't know where it will lead.
I’ve spent a lot of time the last few weeks corresponding with a sweet couple in Great Britain. What started in May as two authors exchanging books for the purpose of writing each other honest reviews has turned into a wonderful relationship which includes both of our partners. Tim and Hazel are such kind, engaging, humorous, interesting people. And they pretty much adore us, if you can believe that. What a world we live in, that we can form such friendships across such a distance with mere words and images on computer screens.
I have one other foreign friend. Australian. We met online in 1996, in person in ’98. Stayed in touch, but since I turned my life around we have become good friends again. I know he will always have an understanding ear and I can talk to him about anything.
A couple evenings ago I engaged in a lengthy pun exchange with two friends on Facebook; one friend lives not too far away, but I don’t see her much. She helped deliver two of my children. The other is a friend in the town in which I used to live; we met online when I was a teen and quickly formed a good friendship in person. I haven’t seen him in ages and we rarely correspond much, but we know each other and will always call each other friend.
Other friends near where I used to live recently brought their whole family to stay with us for a weekend. We womenfolk had connected the first time we met at church, but my family moved soon after. We became good friends online and as her family worked their way out of religion too, we became better friends. When they visited we connected all the way around; guys, gals, kids. I would be surprised if anything ever interrupted our friendship.
So, as I was jogging in place, gazing out at my beautiful yard, I was feeling mighty happy to be alive right there, right then. Grateful for the internet and for people who are open and interested in engaging, crossing distances to become the neighbor you always wished you had.
I may not ever meet some of my online friends in person, or it may be years before I meet them or see them again. When I was younger and had such friendships I was impatient to take them to the next level. Now, as much as I would enjoy getting any of these friends to sit at my dining table, to feed them homemade pizza, hear their voices, see their eyebrows wag as they tell stories, hear them LOL, I’m not going to waste time wishing. I’m going to enjoy these relationships for what they are right now. Mine are fun, encouraging, helpful, inspiring and comforting. Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, Skype, Twitter, snail mail; these are bridges to friends, friends I might not otherwise have, friends I might not get to see very often. It’s remarkable how much of a life a thoughtful, observant person can share through these mediums.