Loud, boisterous laughter filled the dimly lit dining room. A fire-place a few feet away warmed us. A chicken lover, a pescatarian, 3 all American meat eaters, one pork eater, and one who eats it all gathered, reunited after two years. Seven friends joined by a memorable experienced tattooed to our soul sat around a table filled with a buffet of Thai food.
I am here where I can let my insides hangout and won’t be judged. I am here where I am loved as is, no improvements necessary. I am here without a need to watch what I say or control my crazy in any way. Our destiny was to spend a short two years together before I left, but it was also our destiny to imprint forever on each other’s lives. Love, Laughter, Life. Each sharing some air time spreading news, frustrations, and worries.
We come together not too often. We come together without a purpose. Yet, connect and love and breathe next to each other. Last night I spent a few hours with a few old friends. As we laughed till we cried, I began to have that light and cozy feeling in the bottom of my stomach. You know that feeling that you are exactly where you are supposed to be and all the stars have aligned just for you, just for this moment. While pigging out, we caught up on each others lives–one of us has a fourteen month old now, one of us was considering retiring, one of us was about to start a new job, one of us was having a tough school year, and two of us were living. It was our Friendsgiving.
While in the warm shower after everyone had parted ways, I wonder what is it about certain people that makes it so that your souls join in a way that is so deep and so loved that it’s indescribable? Just last week, I was asked the question: do you believe in soul mates? Initially, I promptly responded a sharp “No!” After last night however, it so clear these people whom I worked with for a short period and I are adjoined in such a way that it feels like I may believe in soul mates.
Because I moved around so much in my youth, I have a serious fear of abandonment. My dancer friend used to call it adult separation anxiety. Leaving my friends or family always took me to dark places. I had to say goodbye to so many of my friends so many times that it has left some scars. I moved to America when I was 10 years old and though I had my brother and my cousins, my best friends were left behind. This was the age of no internet or cheap long-distance calls. If you wanted to contact someone in India, you were to write a letter and hope it would get there. During my last few years in India, I lived on an orphanage (my dad was the head of the orphanage) which meant I had friends-boys and girls-24/7 of all ages. We had adventures daily in groups of 4-8. Never was I really alone, until I walked into Ms. O’Connell’s 5th grade classroom at Hollywood Elementary in College Park, MD. I looked around a sea of White and Black students wondering where my best friend was. I spent so many days quietly observing the American way. I learned to like Pizza and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch instead of rice, daal, pickle, and ghee. I yearned for connections that never happened, at least not that year.
It’s no wonder then that my biggest fear in life is ending up alone and friendless. Every time I’m going through a transition, I cry about how I don’t have any friends. I spent my twenties trying to please my friends and make sure that they would be my friends. Not once acknowledging that I am loveable. In fact, my husband’s theme song for me is Bobby Vinton’s “Mr. Lonely” because I talk to him about this fear so often. When I am in that place of sadness, I can’t see clearly. I can’t feel that, although there aren’t friends right here in front of me, there are people, connections every place that I’ve lived.
From New York to Nashville to Cambridge, I have relationships that have become so special, so filled with truth and love and reality. It isn’t about the number or the proximity, I am now realizing. It is about the quality. These are people who are family. Ones who allow time to pass and relationships to evolve.
So Saturday night at Friendsgiving, we ate yummy Thai food in Sommerville, a bite of a lemon bar gone bad, and then consolation cookies. We drank red wine. We shared a few mementos and laughed and laughed and laughed. As it turns out, I’m going to need a new theme song because I am not Mr. Lonely anymore.