My Traveling Tales by Michelle
"Love easily confuses us because it is always in flux between illusion and substance, between memory and wish, between contentment and need."
—Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
|Garden of the Gods is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.|
I have reached the age where I can look back over the course of many years and try to consciously examine the relationships I have had with friends who have come and gone from my life. While friends may come and go, my sisters and I remain close. In fact, as time marches on, our bond continues to get stronger. We sisters tell each other the truth and we hold each other accountable. We also kick up our heels together and tease each other. We're each other's mirror and we reflect what needs to be seen, both the good and the not so good. We all have work to do on ourselves. No one points that out faster than a sibling or a spouse. Friends, on the other hand, seem to come in and out of my life and tend to need more subtle discourse than the rather blunt conversations I enjoy with my sisters.
|Perhaps the park should be renamed Garden of the Goddesses|
for yours truly (on the left) and my dear friend Stephanie.
One of my favorite authors, Tom Robbins, wrote an entire book examining the question, "What makes love stay?" This is one of my favorite quotes from Still Life With Woodpecker:
“When two people meet and fall in love, there's a sudden rush of magic. Magic is just naturally present then. We tend to feed on that gratuitous magic without striving to make any more. One day we wake up and find that the magic is gone. We hustle to get it back, but by then it's usually too late, we've used it up. What we have to do is work like hell at making additional magic right from the start. It's hard work, but if we can remember to do it, we greatly improve our chances of making love stay.”
I met my friend Stephanie thirteen years ago when my family moved from Northern California to Tucson. Stephanie, her husband and young daughter lived in the home next door to our house. In other words, we were neighbors. My first memory of Stephanie was of her slender pregnant form, sitting on the ground in her front yard, picking weeds. I walked up to say hello and that's all it took. We've been friends since that day.
My daughter Maddie celebrated her fifth birthday shortly after our arrival in Tucson. Stephanie and I were talking on the phone recently and we both marveled that Maddie will be graduating from high school next month. Over the thirteen years that we've been friends, our families have known both happiness and heartache, and we've done our best to support each other while we walk along life's rocky path. What's made our friendship stay when so many others haven't?
I have noticed in my forty-something years on this planet, that most relationships don't survive distance. Relationships need consistent nurturing which is more easily accomplished through proximity. When my daughter, Maddie and I returned to California for one year to support my sister Linda while she was grieving the death of her son, Joshua
, I found that a close friendship that I had enjoyed for ten years—despite its ups and downs—would come to an end. And, although my friend and I tried to keep our strained friendship alive and even revive it when Maddie and I returned to Tucson—to my disappointment our friendship did not last. By the time we tried to discuss our differences, there was too much water under the bridge, as the saying goes, and a dispassionate current swept away what little remained of our relationship. I always feel a little melancholy when I think of her, and then I recall another Tom Robbins quote that is our sister Juliette's favorite, "It is what it is, you are what you it, there are no mistakes."
While one long-term relationship slowly withered and then died, my friend Stephanie and I continued to grow closer. It wasn't long after I had returned to Tucson that Stephanie shared with me that she and her family would be relocating to Colorado. It was a sliding doors moment. I returned and she departed. There goes my dearest friend, I thought. Life won't be the same. And it is not. I miss her deeply. Life morphs and changes and hopefully we resolutely continue to support each other along life's journey regardless of whether we are near or far.
Last year when I discovered that I would be visiting Denver in February for a trade show, the first call I made was to Stephanie. The prospect of spending a couple of days with my dearest friend and her family made my heart sing. I patiently counted down the months until we'd be together again. In the meantime Stephanie made plans. On the itinerary, Garden of the Gods
in Colorado Springs made the cut as well as a tour of downtown Castle Rock
and a special lunch at one of Stephanie's favorite places to eat, a quaint old stone church turned restaurant. I would also have the opportunity to watch Stephanie's eldest daughter ride her horse at a jumping lesson. We'd share family meals. We'd talk and laugh and have time just to be together. I could hardly wait.
My trip happened to fall over Valentine's Day. Stephanie's youngest daughter, with whom she was pregnant when we first met, helped her dad make a breakfast of pancakes, eggs and sausages. I can't tell you how much I love to watch other people cook, so it was great fun for me to be seated at a bar stool that overlooks the cooking range and see the father-daughter duo companionably doing their thing while I sipped a latté and admired the bouquet that was waiting for me when I arose. Talk about five star bed and breakfast accommodations!
|A stylized portrait of my Valentine's Day bouquet.|
I think a lot about interpersonal relationships. Over the course of my life, I have gained so much from failed relationships that did not, for various reasons, stand the test of time. These are people that I loved deeply for a time and then we let each other go. We couldn't make love last. Yet, I have an unbreakable bond with my sisters that has been tested throughout the years. We have not and will not let each other go—ever. There have been times when we have been so angry with each other that we did not speak for nearly a year, but we overcame our differences and are stronger for it. In a similar vein, I've been married for 24 years. Like any marriage, we've experienced our ups and downs. But, we overcome our differences and are stronger for it. Why can't it be the same way with friends that we've been close to for years? Why can't we overcome our differences and be the stronger for it?
|The Barn offers shoppers an amazing mix of specialty items |
and antiques along with upcycled and recycled finds.
I suppose I think a lot about long-lasting relationships because my daughter is an only child. She has no sisters that will be there to pat her on the head or to kick her in the ass, or both simultaneously, depending upon what's needed. I had hoped that her early childhood friends would be like her sisters, but that was not to be. They all parted in middle school and went in separate directions. My continuing hope is that college will bond her to friends that will last throughout her life. Maddie also has her lovely cousins with whom I hope she will enjoy close familial ties over the long haul. Because I think that's what we need, people we can depend upon for the long run. They have your back. They're resolute. Folks with whom you can disagree and then get beyond the argument to find new common ground. And, then get on with the business of living. Together. Happy for each other. Supportive.
|The Barn is a conglomerate of shops — similar to an antique mall —|
located in downtown Castle Rock, Colorado.
I have many acquaintances and few friends. I only need a few friends though, when I have a friend like Stephanie who is kind, honest and supportive. I especially admire her strength of character. And, to my point about my sisters, Stephanie kicked me in the derrière
once and we got beyond it. She was right and I was wrong. Maybe that's what makes love stay; admitting when you are wrong and then offering an apology—at least it's a good place to start. My sincere apology to Stephanie got us back to playing card games, discussing art and sharing laughter. As an added benefit, Stephanie is an amazing artist, and I have her artwork displayed throughout my house. Her gifts to me of her are are constant reminders of her whenever my eyes rest upon one of the intricately crafted pieces she poured her creativity and love into. At this point in our relationship, after our years together, and supporting each other through our crazy lives, I think of her as my sister. Thank you, Stephanie, for all the love you've given me since the day we met. Let's make love stay. I'm playing for keeps.
Chimichurri Dressing by The Old Stone Church Restaurant
|The gorgeous stained glass windows are gaze-worthy at The Old Stone Church Restaurant.|