(re)birth

Two great things happened today that helped lift my otherwise sunken spirits, and both gave me some perspective on the tragic passing of Fran.  I’d like to share them with you, in the hopes that you might find some perspective in your everyday world as well.

First, I reconnected with long-lost friend Elysa, who was my best friend for the years I lived in Santa Rosa.  We gradually lost touch after I moved to Pleasanton, but recently found each other on Facebook.  In one of those random moments where the moon and the earth and the stars and luck all align, she happened to be in DC this week!!  In a tribute to our generations’ dependency on social media, we chatted via Facebook and arranged to meet up tonight.  Elysa had been out in DC last fall for a semester studying and interning (she graduated from Stanford in May), so she picked one of her favorite little bakeries/coffeshops, called Open City in Woodley Park.

I arrived at Open City about 20 minutes before we were supposed to meet, so I grabbed a seat at the bar and ordered a YUMMY Dogfish Head IPA and was absorbed immediately by the old Muppets episodes they had playing on the bar TV.  (No LeBron game?!?!?! GAAASSPPPPPP).  When Elysa walked in, we moved to a table (but not before the bartender insisted on buying my beer!!  Ladies: go to Open City just for the cute bartenders and the free drinks they throw at you.  Win-win.) and dove right into telling our respective life stories.  Some highlights:

  • Elysa is going to be Rachel from Glee for Halloween–minus the singing.
  • Her younger brother, who we used to call Benjy and was always the prop manager in our amateur play productions, is now 6’4”, has an afro, goes to UC Santa Cruz, and never surfs.
  • Her dad dreams of turning her room into a drum studio when she moves out.  I think this beats the planned transformation of my room into a fitness center by a LOT.
  • She has been dating her boyfriend Luke for 2+ years and they never talk about marriage.

Elysa and I chatted for over two hours in the cozy, comfortable, homey, buzzing Open City dining room, and never once ran out of conversation topics.  It was like we were back in 2nd grade, playing with her rabbits or choreographing dance routines involving her luxurious white leather couch or sneaking fruit pops from the freezer.  It was an effortless conversation, one that meanders and flows without having to be forced anywhere and that, once over, surprised me with its ease.  The good news is that Elysa, while returning to Santa Rosa next Wednesday, is determined to move to DC and will make no compromises.  This means that we will hopefully be able to see each other more regularly than once every fourteen years.

I left Open City with the promise of a (semi-) new friendship in the air; that hope of finding a person with whom you connect on an intuitive level filling my chest like a balloon being filled with warm, uplifting air.  The rekindling of my old friendship was the break in the clouds that let the sun shine through on these past few days.  Dinner at Open City tonight reopened my eyes to the fact that while life gets the better of us sometimes–knocking us down, shoving us into the sidewalk, and walking all over us until we are just a stain on the pavement–it also presents us with ways to peel ourselves up out of the cracked concrete and try walking again.  All it takes is one extended hand; one offering of a new, unknown friendship to pull us away from a tragedy and towards learning from a tragedy.  The rebirth of my friendship with Elysa made me feel like myself again, and that is irreplaceable.

Second, while nowhere near as personally relevant as my Elysa-story, moves me nonetheless: Candace had her baby.

courtesy of facebook

Candace was, in two words, my teenage idol.  She was somewhere in high school when I moved up into the senior group on my club swim team, and I just worshiped her (from afar, obviously.  We were WAY too annoying for her to pay us any positive attention).  She was everything I wanted to be– fast without ever working hard.  I do not mean this in a derogatory way whatsoever; I literally would have KILLED to be like that.  My favorite Candace line: “Oh girl, you go ahead.  I’m just holding up the wall here.”  As we got older, I started traveling to meets with her, and our relationship developed into something resembling friendship.  However, I only idolized her more when I learned that she got married to an adorable, wealthy, successful guy from UF, and was moving into a scrumptious apartment before traveling the world– and never doing a day of work in the process.  A few months ago, I learned that she was pregnant, and today her baby son came into the world.  (Unfortunately, I am not in contact with Candace other than some serious Facebook stalking, so most of this information has been gleaned via, again, my dependency on social media.)  Her baby’s name is Maverick (gahhhh I die!) and looks to be red and loud and healthy and wonderful.

The birth of a new child into this world is a phenomenal event.  A lot of us have been having a terrible few days since Saturday morning, but Candace and her husband and her family have been anxiously awaiting what is most likely one of the happiest days of their lives.  What some people will remember as The Tuesday After Fran Died, Candace will remember as little Maverick’s birthday.  October 26 will be forever filled with parties, cake, balloons, presents, singing, hugging, laughing, and loving for her and her baby.  The world takes people away from their loved ones, but brings new loved ones for other people at the same time.  I am truly happy for Candace, and thank baby Maverick from afar for helping me remember the value of life– a few hours or 26 years of it.

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One Response

  1. Sweet post, Jen! I loved your blouse. Your Uncle Greg was also born on Oct. 26.

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